Talk to a veteran, and something they’ll never forget is the haircut they received when they first got to Basic Training.

When we first arrived at the Reception Company, we didn’t get our hair cut right away. We arrived late at night, got fed, put to bed, and then it started the following morning. I’d been shoved into a barracks with about fifty other guys, and about the time you got to where you could put faces to names, they marched us all downstairs.

It was haircut time.

It didn’t matter what you had when you walked in. Long hair, short hair, three quarters bald, you walked in, and as they old march goes, “They put me in a barber chair, Spun me around, I had no hair.” We had a name for the haircut and it was an “On the floor, Out the door.”

It was the biggest shock of most peoples lives. More than a few young men left the barber shop crying. You’d have thought most everyone had the first name of Samson and the barber was Delilah.

We were back to learning to recognize one another all over again. About twenty minutes after that, we were issued our uniforms, complete with nametags, so that helped.

We got to wear that hairdo all the time we were in Basic Training.

The girls were a little different. They had to be able to hide it up under their hat or helmet. I recall one girl in the female platoon that wore her hair up in some kind of braid. Fit perfectly under the hat and helmet. A few weeks after we got out of Basic Training and into AIT (and were allowed weekend passes – and wearing civilian clothing), I saw her. She’d taken the hair out of the braid. My first reaction was, who is she? My second thought when I realized who it was, where did she hide all that hair?

In AIT, we were supposed to wear the “On the Floor, Our the Door” or “A High and tight.” I have too many scars on my head and so I hated the “On the floor, Out the door.” And since none of the Native Americans tribes who contributed to my genetic makeup wore hair that way, I wasn’t about to start. I quietly began rebelling and wore a taper cut which was allowed.

It hid a lot of sins.

When I got to Germany, we had a barbershop downstairs. This older German Lady ran it. I’m pretty sure she cut hair when the Nazis ran the place. She did an awesome job, and it wasn’t unusual to walk in and see a number of high ranking officers and NCOs getting their hair cut.

One day I walked in and there’s a man in the chair. He looked vaguely familiar but since most of him was covered with the barber cloth, I didn’t realize who he was. I sat, waiting my turn, and he engages me in conversation. We talked while she cut his hair, and when finished, she takes the cloth off him.

Thank God I always addressed older men as “Sir.” It was General Griffith, the boss man of 1st Armored Division.

But the biggest shock came to folks when they arrived a permanent party.

I was working gate duty one day at Ansbach Main Headquarters. Cpl Eric McArtor and I got relieved long enough to walk over to the main post mess hall and have breakfast. We were sitting there talking and eating when we heard someone say, “Soldier, what kind of haircut is that?”

The voice was commanding and since we were around it often, we knew who it was Division SGM Caitlin. The voice caused us to look, and CSM Caitlin has this young soldier at parade rest. The soldier in question has lightning bolts and stars cut into his hair.

“Son, has your Platoon Daddy seen that haircut?”

“Yes, Sgt. Major.”

“Well, that’s not allowed in the regulations. So here’s what you’re going to do. The barber shop opens in an hour. You’ll be in a chair at that time and receive a proper military haircut. Then I want to see you and your Platoon Sgt in my office at ten hundred hours. Understood?”

The thing with SGM Caitlin is he never had to shout at a person. His voice sounded calm, professional, and respectful at all times.

And you never wanted to draw his attention for anything bad.

My haircut caught his attention a few weeks later. I’d just had my haircut that weekend, and it was a little shorter than usual (we’d be going out to the field soon). He sees me and notices this long three inch line above one ear.

“Sergeant. What is that above your ear?” he asks.

“That’s a scar, Sgt. Major.”

“A scar? How did you get it.”

So, I had to launch into the story of how when I was three and a ball I was playing with rolled behind the dog house, and in my efforts to retrieve it I opened up my scalp on a nail that sticking out.

“That must have bled like crazy,” he said, and walked away.

Things have changed a lot since. My Special Forces son told me the story of a 2LT that got onto him about his haircut and beard in Afghanistan. Another officer saw what was going on, and went over an explained to the young officer that didn’t really apply to these war fighters, and he’d best leave them alone.

I wonder what SGM Caitlin would have thought of soldiers with long hair and a beard?

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Like my blog and stories? Check out my novels available on Amazon. I have two out right now, The Cross and the Badge, and Against Flesh and Blood. A third novel, The Judas Tree will be coming out soon. Click on the novel names to be taken straight to them.

As always, thanks for dropping by and for your support. God Bless.