Soldiers’ ‘Iraq ’staches’ pay lip service to machismo
March 1, 2009
PATROL BASE TAHWEELA, Iraq — Soldiers out of Grafenwöhr, Germany, have added something new to the face of U.S. military power during their current deployment to Iraq — the moustache.
The moustache has become a fashion sensation among soldiers at Forward Operating Base Hammer and Patrol Base Tahweela.
Enlisted soldiers and officers with the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor, and Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment sport moustaches — or as they’re better known here, the "combat ’stache" or the "Iraq ’stache."
Some moustaches are thin, raggedy looking things that resemble shredded felt. Others are full, thick testosterone-fueled testaments to masculinity. It’s as if their owners are declaring their machismo from the mountaintop of their upper lip.
Mostly, the lip slugs are grown and groomed downrange for humor and camaraderie. Staff Sgt. Michael Bezdziecki’s full-bodied, rounded moustache has people telling him he looks like the guy on the front of the Pringles potato chip cans. And it’s because he does.
Sgt. 1st Class David Jones had never grown a moustache. But after caving to peer pressure, he proudly wears one now. His wife can’t stand it, so he’ll have to shave it before he redeploys.
First Lt. Lucas Barger, who also will likely lose the moustache when he heads home, hates the way his growth looks.
"It’s the Iraq ’stache," he said. "You gotta grow it. My girl hates the ’stache. So when you’re gone, and she’s not around, you grow it."
Growing moustaches downrange is just boys being boys, said 1st Lt. Javier Avila.
"We cut loose a little bit," he said. "We keep it in [regulations] as much as possible. It’s time to be boys. Most of these guys are young and they don’t grow ’staches out, so why not give it a shot?"
The dark stubble on Pfc. Ashraf Yasin’s upper lip is what will become his moustache soon. He’s growing it out to "look cool," he said.
"I gotta fit in with my brothers," he said. "When you go to Iraqi army camps and they see you with ’staches, they think it’s pretty sweet."
Sgt. Louis Scharf had a deployment ’stache but accidentally shaved it off a few weeks ago because he’s so used to shaving his whole face.
But don’t you risk looking like a creepy, unseemly sort with a sickly ’stache?
"If it’s sickly, yes," Scharf said. "But if you grow it full and mesmerizing, people stare, and they’re like, ‘Wow. That guy has one heck of a moustache.’ "