Mustache March: More than meets the lip

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Reggie Manning
  • 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron
Editor's Note: Information in this article was taken from

Even if your spouse doesn't follow college sports, there is a chance that they are aware of March Madness, better known as 'Mustache March.' Air Force wide, March has been designated as a time for men to express their manliness and their freedom by disregarding their normally clean shaves. What better month than March, the beginning of spring, to let their mustaches blossom.

However, there is a deeper origin to Mustache March. Besides a symbol of rebellion and a way to annoy wives, Mustache March has been traced back as far as the Vietnam War, starting with Brig. Gen. Robin Olds.

During the Vietnam War, then Col. Robin Olds was an exceptional pilot as well as a leader of men. Honored as a Triple Ace for his heroic actions and superior air power, Olds shot down 16 enemy aircraft alongside the infamous Wolfpack squadron. Though he fought for freedom in the air, he was also known for his outlandish handlebar mustache.

Dated as far back as the tradition of the 'Challenge Coin,' aviators would often grow out their 'bulletproof stache' as a superstition for a safe return home.

Olds' rebellious fuzz inspired nearly everyone in his squadron, non-pilots and all, to grow out their mustache. His act of defiance was brought to an end when he returned home and reported to the Pentagon. Upon arrival, Olds was approached by then Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. McConnell, who simply said, "Take it off." To which Olds responded, "yes, sir."

Although Olds died on June 14, 2007, at the age of 84, he left behind a legacy and a tradition that is still carried out to this day known as Mustache March.

So next time you see an Airman with a desperate caterpillar sprouting on his face, just know that there is more to the 'stache' than what meets the lip.