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Mustache March - Roots Deeper Than Facial Hair

Aircraft Mechanics at Laughlin AFB

Two aircraft mechanics from the 47th Maintenance Squadron perform an inspection on the T-6A Texan II aircraft at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Feb. 26, 2021. Maintainers at Laughlin are unique because they are comprised entirely of Department of Defense civilian employees. Most of the employees are former military service members or residents of the community who bring essential continuity and invaluable partnerships to advance the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

SARM at Laughlin AFB

Staff Sgt. Garret Comparint and Mark Salas, both Squadron Aviation Resource Managers with the 85th Flying Training Squadron, prepare to brief pilots before a flight at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Feb. 26, 2021. The SARM oversees and maintains all the records for pilots in the squadron to ensure they meet all regulations to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

Student Pilots at Laughlin AFB

A student pilot with the 47th Student Squadron at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, inspects her flight gear Feb. 26, 2021. The 47 STUS is primarily responsible for the administration and day-to-day non-flying support for more than 400 US and International students currently going through Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training. The squadron also manages over 200 students that are awaiting pilot training and pilot training graduates that are waiting to transition to their next assignment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

Student Pilots at Laughlin AFB

Staff Sgt. David Vasquez-Velez, an aircrew flight equipment technician with 47th Operations Support Squadron, checks the fit on a pilot’s flight helmet at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Feb. 26, 2021. The AFE flight inspects, maintains, packs and adjusts equipment such as flight helmets, oxygen masks, parachutes, flotation devices, survival kits and more to ensure pilots’ equipment are functioning properly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

434th FTS at Laughlin AFB

Capt. Mike Beachamp, 434th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot, is doused with water by squadron members Jan. 22, 2021 at Laughlin Air Force Base Texas. In celebration of a pilot’s final flight, it is tradition for the pilot to be showered with water and champagne. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

434th FTS at Laughlin AFB

Four T-6A Texan II aircraft and instructor pilots from the 434th Flying Training Squadron "Red Devils" and 85th Flying Training Squadron "Tigers" from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, fly a four-ship formation over the city of Del Rio during the Veterans Day ceremony Nov 11, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

434th FTS at Laughlin AFB

A life-size “Red Devils” patch from the 434th Flying Training Squadron at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, is the first and last thing seen when you enter and exit their building. Together, the 85th Flying Training Squadron and the 434th FTS, known as “T-6 Nation,” both conduct primary flight training in the T-6A Texan II as part of the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

434th FTS at Laughlin AFB

A mural entitled "The Legacy Of The 434 Red Devils" hangs in the 434 Flying Training Squadron at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. The mural showcases the rich heritage of the 434 FTS, which dates to 1943. Brig. Gen. Robin Olds was among many notable figures assigned to the historic squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It’s March and Air Force members are donning bulletproof mustaches exponentially. Their newly acquired face armor is more visible than Liberty Mutual commercials.

If you’ve spent more than two weeks in the military, you know that growing a furry lip ornament is one way to commemorate the iconic Brig. Gen. Robin Olds. Albeit this tradition is a fun way to build camaraderie, it can be easy to miss hidden gems in plain sight.

By anyone’s standards, what Olds did for the Air Force is extraordinary, a Marvel like character, but way cooler.  Unfortunately when we think about super heroes, it’s coded in our DNA to fall in love with the heroics opposed to the culture he or she changed.

When you read between the lines, Olds championed diversity and inclusion by promoting a sense of belonging, an environment to implement new ideas, and always doing what he felt was right.

With that being said, let’s look beyond the status quo and study the presents this gifted leader continues to pass down.

There’s no better place that internalizes these characteristics like the 434 Flying Training Squadron at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. Coincidentally, Olds was a former squadron commander there.

At any given time in the squadron, you will see a diverse mixture of enlisted, officers, and civilians from different backgrounds, gender, and race who seamlessly work together toward one common goal.

“I like to think the 434th maintains Robin Olds forward learning mentality, said Capt. Mike Beachamp 434th FTS instructor pilot. He was an inspiration to the people to around him and a “staunch advocate for better pilots. Two things we (the Red Devils) pride ourselves on is a great sense of comradery and setting the standard for our students.”

The 434th supports the second largest flying hour program and flies over 35,000 hours annually. The instructors develop fundamental skills critical to combat pilots, officers, and leaders by preparing students for follow-on training.

It truly takes a concerted effort to get a jet and pilot airborne. Whether it’s a maintainer, aircrew flight equipment, flight records or step desk to name a few, EVERYONE has to be on their A game, or the effects would be catastrophic.

Their success is attributed to embracing multifaceted layers of diversity and employing the universal rule of treating everyone the same. Considering how many sorties they generated last year in triple digit weather, morale was a natural byproduct of their collective efforts.

Olds will always be synonymous with Mustache March and most will never come close to his accolades; however, everyone can embody his ability to be a change agent.

After all these years, that legacy can still be found in the men and women of the 434th FTS.