FORT MEADE, Md. – A sailor successfully petitioned for unrestrained growth of his facial hair on the grounds of religious expression, sources aboard Cryptologic Warfare Group Six revealed today.
The Navy’s controversial determination allows the pious sailor to keep with his World of Warcraft (WoW) faith as a devoted servant of the Holy Light and follows closely on the heels of a recent decision by the Air Force granting a Muslim airman the right to wear a beard.
“Lo, a glorious day for Azeroth, indeed, that I might champion the cause of my brothers,” declared local holy warrior, Quest4Cameltō, squeezing one of the many pustular follicles erupting from the pubescent tangle of greasy, unkempt hair below his chins.
Quest4Cameltō, a paladin from the holdfast of Stromgarde, goes by the title of Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Seaman Kevin Dietrich in the material world and practices the foreign tongue of ancient Mesopotamia, providing translations and intelligence reports for further analysis.
“Alas, please refrain from addressing me as such,” the godly knight requested. “Verily, I am but a lowly Level 3 peon amongst the uniformed ranks of the Navy, but here," he said, with a sweeping gesture towards his two, 32-inch 4K UHD monitors, "Here, I am a mighty Level 63 guardian of justice, smiting the wicked and dealing swift retribution to the minions of the Burning Legion.”
WoW is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game worshiped by many sailors and members of the intelligence community. Practicers assume alternate identities as mighty heroes and intrepidly embark on mystical quests with friends and strangers in the pursuit of loot and experience points.
“This is my life,” said Dietrich, proudly sporting the facial hair customary to males of his order.
Grooming standards have prohibited sailors from growing beards since 1984, although medical exemptions have been granted on a case-by-case basis for sailors afflicted with pseudofolliculitis barbae -- colloquially known as "razor bumps.” The relentless and unforgiving skin condition predominantly affects Black Americans and service members who deliberately shave against the grain in order to obtain a no-shave chit.
Dietrich had long fought to rectify the injustices the Navy levied against his religious beliefs, according to colleagues, and ultimately resorted to filing a grievance under the Equal Opportunity Program.
"Who am I to stand between a man-child and his god?" asked Gerald Housemann, inspector general for U.S. Fleet Cyber Command. "These determinations must be divined by powers greater than mine own."
The resplendent paladin’s case is the latest in a flurry of efforts by the Navy to relax grooming standards, including permission for male and female sailors to wear their hair in man-buns and ponytails.
As the quest for unchecked religious equality presses on, Dietrich was spotted at medical seeking exemption from the Body Composition Assessment.