By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
The long-debated question of whether men in at least one branch of the military should be allowed to use umbrellas was finally put to rest in 1979, when the U.S. Air Force spent $3,000 — $11,335 in 2021 dollars — on a survey of whether men in uniform should be given the courtesy of keeping dry.
The six-month study won the Air Force a Golden Fleece award from Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin who handed out the awards for wasteful and nonsensical spending.
“I hate to throw cold water on this exercise,” Proxmire said then. “But the taxpayers are the ones getting soaked.”
He noted that for years, the U.S. Air Force Uniform Board has been asked if it were proper for male uniformed Air Force members to carry umbrellas. The answer always came back a resounding no since it was deemed out of image for an Air Force male to carry or use an umbrella while in uniform.
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So, between Nov. 1, 1978, and April 30, 1979, the Air Force Uniform Board conducted an umbrella test.
For six months, airmen were given the option of using a standard black or blue umbrella if they wanted.
A random sample of 1,700 Pentagon-based Air Force males was designed and according to the survey research experts, the survey would be 95 percent reliable.
Following the survey, in 1979 male Air Force officers were given permission to carry umbrellas.
The U.S. Army and Navy have also long authorized umbrellas for use by both sexes but it wasn’t until 2019 that male Marines were given the same courtesy.
While policy was changed after the $3,000 survey, it’s a wonder why it was needed in the first place.
Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
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