AT SEA - Marines learn many valuable skills throughout their military careers. Some of the skills are far from expected.
While deployed aboard the USS Rushmore, a few Marines assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit have practiced and honed the valuable skill of cutting hair. Deep in the lower decks of the Rushmore, they have used practical application to learn the art of giving military regulation haircuts in the ship’s lone barbershop.
Marines rely on the skill of civilians at barbershops on and off base to give them their weekly haircuts while in garrison. With this option unavailable while deployed, many Marines became the representative barbers for their units. They had to learn the hard way how to give a proper haircut to their peers.
“Two weeks into the deployment, I volunteered to cut Marines’ hair,” said Cpl. Gabino Chacon, motor transportation mechanic, Maintenance Detachment, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th MEU. “I wanted to hook the Marines up. There were a lot of bad haircuts in the beginning. At first I wasn’t so good. But I got better the more I did it. I learned to do smoother fades, how to use scissors to cut longer hair, the difference between fades and how to cut different kinds of hair.”
Corporal Kyle C. Sieradski, fire direction controller, 2nd Platoon, Battery B, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th MEU, offered these five tips that he has learned since he started cutting hair for his Platoon:
I. “Hygiene is your top priority. You need a clean workspace. It’s very important to sanitize and clean your equipment between each haircut.
II. “Patience. You have to cut a lot of heads and it takes a lot of time out of your day. If you speed through the haircut you make mistakes.
III. “It’s easier to fade from the top. If someone asks for hair off the top of their head, you should cut that first and then fade down to prevent lines.
IV. “If you are having trouble cutting short hairs, sometimes it’s easier if you tighten their scalp with your hands.
V. “It takes a lot of practice. I cut hair every Thursday, usually for at least 34 Marines. And I’m still not the best.
Chacon even plans to use the talents he learned cutting hair on the Rushmore to attend a Barbers school and earn a degree.
The real testament to these skills is the customers. Many compare their new hairdos to what they would receive from a barber out in town.
“I’m glad someone is able to cut our hair,” said Jacob E. Salas, field artillery cannoneer, 2nd Platoon, Battery B, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “They’re really good. I’m impressed with the haircuts I get. At first the fades were bad, leaving lines, but over time they’ve learned to fix it. Now both our barbers give good fades.”
The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.