|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
Mustache March is annual event occurring in the month of March, where young men in the United States grow mustaches for amusement and to raise money for charity. The idea stems from an early Air Force tradition in which members of the U.S. Air Force would grow mustaches in good-natured protest against facial hair regulations during the month of March. The act of growing a mustache as a gesture of defiance against dogmatic leadership is attributed to U.S. Air Force triple-ace Robin Olds who grew an extravagantly waxed handlebar mustache which did not comply with U.S. Air Force regulations.
Robin Olds "Wolf of Kunsan" (July 14, 1922 – June 14, 2007) was an American fighter pilot and general officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was a "triple ace", with a combined total of 16 victories in World War II and the Vietnam War. He retired in 1973 as a brigadier general.
Robin Olds was known for the extravagantly waxed (and decidedly non-regulation) handlebar mustache he sported in Vietnam. It was a common superstition among airmen to grow a "bulletproof mustache", but Olds also used his as "a gesture of defiance. The kids on base loved it. Most everybody grew a mustache." Returning home, however, marked the end of this flamboyance. When he reported to his first interview with Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell, McConnell walked up to him, stuck a finger under his nose and said, "Take it off." Olds replied, "Yes, sir."
For his part, Olds was not upset with the order, recalling:
- "To tell the truth, I wasn't all that fond of the damned thing by then, but it had become a symbol for the men of the 8th Wing. I knew McConnell understood. During his visits to Ubon over the past year he had never referred to my breach of military standards, just seemed rather amused at the variety of 'staches sported by many of the troops. (It) was the most direct order I had received in twenty-four years of service."
The incident with the mustache is given credit as the impetus for a new Air Force tradition, "Mustache March", in which aircrew, aircraft maintainers, cyber operators, space operators and other Airmen worldwide show solidarity by a symbolic, albeit good-natured "protest" for one month against Air Force facial hair regulations..."
- Byrne, Stacy (March 30, 2007). "The facial hair protest is an Air Force tradition". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved April 25, 2007.[dead link]