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Base trivia: What part of your body may not be exposed in public?

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

Whether it be forgetfulness, disregard for the rules or perhaps even a desire to show off your new haircut, excuses for not wearing a hat when out and about are wearing thin at MacDill.

The wing Protocol Flight is once again pushing hard to remind all Airmen about "covering up" when outdoors on base. The instruction is clear but too many Airmen are being spotted around base with their hats off in the wrong areas, said 1st Lt. Steven Coffee. Other problems are people who are wearing the wrong cap. While things have not gotten to a point where harsh discipline measures are being implemented, excuses for ignoring the hat rules are not likely to get much traction, as the wing works to sharpen its image of professionalism.

"The military standard always has been to wear covers outside," said Lieutenant Coffee. "We're reemphasizing it now as part of customs and courtesies and an overall effort to get everyone looking good and to look smart."

Lieutenant Coffee said the rules of when and where to don your cover are readily available online, among other places, on the MacDill Intranet but everyone should already know them. In general, Airmen are to wear their squadron caps when outside, including when leaving shopping sites, the gas station or anywhere else the sun is shinning. While some may believe they are meeting the obligation by slipping into their battle dress uniform hat, they are only half-right and that's not good enough. BDU hats are allowed during exercises only, under the rule. All Airman assigned to the wing should be wearing their squad hats in designated hat areas unless they are part of an exercise or if they are assigned to one of the other commands in which only BDU or other caps are provided.

"People (Airmen assigned to the wing) have been seen with their hats off - usually while leaving somewhere like the gas station," said Lieutenant Coffee. "It is something we want to eliminate and everyone needs to be thinking about the rules."

There are a few exceptions to the "hats on" rule, including areas at the hospital but the exclusions are few and for those looking for guidance, it is better to err on the side of caution. Keep the lid on if in doubt when outside and moving around the base, said Lieutenant Coffee.

Lieutenant Coffee said no "new teeth" have been added to the rule but those in leadership positions should be taking it upon themselves to set a good example and be "enforcers."

In cases of repeat offenders or flagrant disregard of the rule, it is an option to report violators to their appropriate supervisor but the hope is everyone will condition themselves the same way they should be snapping on a seatbelt.

"Cooperation and thinking about it is the key," said Lieutenant Coffee.



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