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COMUNALE v. MIER

March 14, 1973

Raymond A. COMUNALE, Plaintiff,
v.
Harry J. MIER, Jr., Major General, Pennsylvania National Guard, Adjutant General, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., Defendants


McCune, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCCUNE

The plaintiff is an Airman First Class in the 112th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

 On September 1, 1972, during an inspection he was told to get a haircut by his commanding officer because his hair did not meet the regulations set forth in the Air Force Manual. The plaintiff did not comply with the order which led to further discussion during which it was discovered that plaintiff had been wearing a wig to disguise his hair which was much longer than the hair of the wig. It was the wig which the officer had found to be unmilitary. The wig was somewhat long in the back and extended over the collar which was in violation of the manual.

 The wearing of a wig to drill was also in violation of the manual of regulations unless worn to cover disfigurement or baldness and plaintiff was told that he could not attend drill in either the wig or in long hair because he was not bald or disfigured. He refused to comply with the orders.

 Plaintiff's commanding officer discussed the matter with him and offered non-judicial punishment or a court martial. The plaintiff chose to face a court martial but before it could be convened plaintiff filed a complaint in equity seeking a permanent injunction against the convening of the court martial, or the taking of any punitive action against the plaintiff for violation of the Air Force Regulations dated September 3, 1971, reference AFM 35-10 relating to the wearing of wigs. Plaintiff also asks for an injunction against the defendant enjoining the exclusion of plaintiff from drill while wearing a wig and from ordering plaintiff to proceed to active duty by reason of his excessive absences. It is apparent that plaintiff has not been allowed to drill and has thus become an absentee who may be ordered to proceed to active duty.

 The Air Force Manual published by the Department of the Air Force governs the Air National Guard. The Air National Guard is but an arm of the Air Force. The Federal Government pays 75% of the salaries of the men and officers of the Air National Guard. The state pays 25% of the same salaries.

 The pertinent regulations from the Air Force Manual are the following:

 
"1-12. Dress and Appearance -- Men: a. General. Each member of the Air Force must maintain high standards of dress and personal appearance. As representatives of the Air Force, it is imperative that all members present a neat and well-groomed appearance to their fellow citizens and citizens of foreign nations in countries where they are serving. Further, the need for personal cleanliness, safety, and proper wear of the uniform on the part of all members requires that certain minimum standards be established throughout the Air Force. All Air Force personnel will comply with the following standards: . . . .
 
* * *
 
(2) Hair. Hair will be neat, clean, trimmed, and present a groomed appearance. Hair will not touch the ears or the collar except the closely cut hair on the back of the neck. It will present a tapered appearance. Hair in front will be groomed so that it does not fall below the eyebrows and will not protrude below the band of properly worn headgear. In no case will the bulk or length of the hair interfere with the proper wear of any Air Force headgear. The acceptability of a member's hair style will be based upon the criteria in this paragraph and not upon the style in which he chooses to wear his hair.
 
* * *

 The Air Force contends that plaintiff is neither bald or disfigured and that when he appears for drill dressed in a wig he is out of uniform. Of course the Air Force contends that even the wig fails to meet specifications.

 The plaintiff argues that he is really a civilian who devotes little of his time to the Air Force (weekend drills and summer camp) and that his occupation demands that he wear long hair. He is a member of a musical group called "Harombee" which plays so called "hard rock" for audiences of young people and argues that if he were to appear in short hair it would be thought so unusual that it would jeopardize his job. He apparently has been a musician for about 7 years ...


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