CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – The Godfather has a round head that narrows toward the top. Where the curvature ends, the flatness begins – a plateau of blond hair level enough to satisfy any foreman. Maj. David “The Godfather” Nyback has been sporting the flattop haircut for the better part of his 30-year military career, which now has him stationed at the U.S. Military Hospital – Kuwait at Camp Arifjan as the medical regulating officer with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital (Forward).
The older brother of the High and Tight, the flattop is this: evenly buzzed or razor slick sides, light fade to the top, and where barbers make their money, a uniform top without unevenness. Just picture the late Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas or Ivan Drago from the film "Rocky."
The recently published Army Regulation 670-1 may have outlawed the Landing Strip, the Horseshoe, and the Tear Drop, but men are still authorized to wear the flattop.
Now, Soldiers in the 452nd CSH (FWD) have taken the ageless hairstyle to the next level. They created the “Flattop of the Week” award to honor the sharpest haircut in the unit. The Godfather was crowned first and received what became the customary certificate that reads: "For displaying the flattest of the flattops. Your hairstyle reflects great credit upon you, your unit, and the United States Army."
“It was an honor, especially to win it first,” said Nyback with a chuckle. “Not only did I win the competition, but now I’m the one who signs all the certificates.”
In the beginning
The first time Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Boldon saw a flattop was his father’s around 1963, long before the up and comers now seeking the award were born. A veteran of World War II, his father wore the flattop, and motivated to emulate his hero growing up, Boldon did too.
Many hairstyles are no longer with us, but the flattop is immune to time. Boldon, the command sergeant major of the 452nd CSH (FWD), said he was initially dared to get a flattop just as the competition was gaining momentum.
“I thought if it’s going to make my troops happy, and it’s not illegal or immoral, then why not?” said Boldon. “It’s good, wholesome fun that’s good for the morale of the unit. It does the troops good to see the higher ranks have fun.”
What started with heckling the flattop, turned into admiration, which ended up becoming emulation, Boldon said of the competition’s origins. From there it was off to the barbers. Now, a new flattop is crowned weekly.
“Guys razz each other and challenge each other to get flattops,” said Nyback. “It started off with a couple of leaders doing it and now the younger ones are doing it too.”
Rules and regulations
The competition is simple. It’s devoid of paperwork and submission packets and only requires one thing: a flattop.
“If you have a flattop, you’re automatically in,” said Spc. Austin Polster, a medic with the 452nd CSH (FWD) and the originator of the competition. “The rules are really just made up as we go along. It’s really just the best haircut. The way it initially started was I presented [the award] to major Nyback.”
Throughout the week, the Godfather and the previous week’s flattop champion simply keep an eye on the newly minted flattops. Between the two, with their resumes, they have no trouble identifying the front runners going into the ceremonial discussion held Fridays to determine the flattest of the flat.
“Having a flattop is more of a way of life, than a hairstyle,” said Polster. “Having a flattop means you’re all business. You’re a real straight shooter if you have a flattop.”
A new champion is born
Saturdays in the lobby of the hospital have become a not-to-miss tradition. No one in the crowd knows who the next flattop champion will be. Only the Godfather and Spc. Patrick Wicklund, the previous week’s winner, know who will take home the coveted trophy.
What was originally the trophy for the 2004 Independence Day 5K, has since been repurposed for the flattop competition.
“It was a really tough decision this week,” said Wicklund to the crowd. “For displaying the flattest of the flattops. Your hairstyle reflects great credit upon you, your unit, and the United States Army. This week I present Flattop of the Week to Capt. Garlovsky.”
Hails and cheers from the crowd erupted as Capt. Jonathan Garlovsky, an emergency physician with the 452nd CSH (FWD), made his way to the front to accept the certificate and to claim ownership of the trophy.
“I trained long and hard for this,” said Garlovsky, getting the crowd laughing. “It just all came together, and I appreciate it.”
Garlovsky said he was inspired to compete about two weeks ago when Wicklund challenged him.
“It had its ups and downs,” said Garlovsky of the road to victory. “Sometimes my flattop wasn’t as flat as I wanted it to be.”
For now, outsiders aren’t allowed to compete, but that hasn’t stopped members of the Camp Arifjan community from sporting the eternal hairstyle that is the flattop.
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This work, A new flattop champion is born at Camp Arifjan, by SGT Ryan Hallock, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.