The End of the World as I Knew It

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Oh my god: the Air Force says it’s okay to put your hands in your pockets. Or get a scalp tattoo. Talk on a cell phone while walking. Untuck your PT shirt. Wear morale patches. Roll up your BDU sleeves like a commando. If you’re a woman, you can ditch the pantyhose and go bare-legged in a uniform skirt (but you still have to shave your legs).

Per Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services, the new rules foster “standards and culture that maintain our focus on warfighting, while providing options to meet many of the needs of our airmen.”

During my Air Force career, depending on which command I flew for, I’ve seen generals weigh in on whether rolled-up flight suit sleeves were good or evil. Full bird colonels in officers’ club bars ordering pilots to show their socks (black was the only authorized color). Captains dressed down by majors for moustaches.

I chafed at some of those rules. I thought any pilot anywhere should be able to roll up his or her flight suit sleeves and wear socks of any color. When the Navy went back to WWII standards and allowed aviators to wear brown shoes, I felt a stab of jealousy. The Air Force, with its Army roots, didn’t have the brown shoe tradition, but I wished we could go back to the WWII dress uniforms with the Sam Browne belts.

Pilots could get away with minor infractions ground-pounders couldn’t. Airmen in medical specialties seemed to have a different set of rules for hair length. And general officers … well, they could do pretty much whatever they wanted. Who’d tell them they couldn’t? I expect none of that has changed.

The change that gives me pause is the one allowing personnel to talk on cell phones while walking. Why? Because it’ll become an excuse for not saluting or standing at attention during retreat. Yes, I’m enough of a curmudgeon to be bothered by the thought, but since I’m rarely on military installations these days I probably won’t witness it.

Now I’m wondering what the Air Force has to say about personal pronoun preferences. I know it’s trying to strip names and gender information from the personnel files evaluated by promotion boards, but what about everyday use? What if an airman wants to be referred to as e/em, xe/xem, ze/zim, or sie/hir?

And why is it still “airman?”

© 2021, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


One thought on “The End of the World as I Knew It

  • Absolutely true Skid, no more dicipline, moral and ethical values. The world has been taken over by “woke” activists and communist/marxist political establishments.
    All i can think off is the young men how gave their lives on the beaches of normandy (16000 men in one day.. ) apart from all the suffering of the wounded. they made the ultimate sacrifice so we can live in a free world and were driven by the motivation of doing the right thing if you know what i mean. My father didn’t talk to much about the war (WW2) but hoped the world would not forget what happened back then so it would never happen again. He was from Amsterdam and i am dutch growing up in Bilthoven close to camp new amsterdam. he admired the americans/canadians/british forces and was thankfull for liberating us from the NAZI regime, and so am i.. I am happy that my parents are not alive anymore so they dont have to watch the absurd reality of the world we live in today. The western world takes freedom for granted and are not willing to make sacrifices if they see things are getting out of control. We have not learned from the past and therefore history will repeat itself.. i feel sorry for my children. i live in germany now and it becomes very clear why the events happened as a prelude for WW2. Excuse me for my pessimism.

    I wish you and your family good health and keep your blog going.

    best regards,


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