In this Facial Hair Friday photo, Coast Guardsman Kent C. Pompella displays both a bushy beard and shark teeth earrings. His is just one of the many beards featured in a series of Coast Guardsmen at Work in the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard that have been digitized and made available in the National Archives Catalog.
The photograph was released by the Coast Guard’s Public Relations Division with the title “Beaver Chin and Shark’s Teeth—The South Sea Fashion.” Before they were banned, beards weren’t uncommon for Coast Guardsmen, especially those serving in cold climates.
This photo’s caption reads:
Back in the United States from long service in the Far Pacific, Coast Guardsman Kent C. Pompella, boatswain’s mate second class, displays the picturesque facial fashions of the fighting South Sea invader. On his face he sports a 10 months growth of briers and in his ears a pair of shark tooth earrings. Pompella, whose home is Route 3, Arlington, Va., fought in the invasions of Bougainville and the Admiralty Islands.
Despite what the official caption said, Pompella was actually from Arlington, Washington, a Seattle suburb. He was born in 1920 at nearby Bryant, Washington, and joined the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. After the war, he worked as a pondman at a sawmill back in Washington, and then he and his family moved to California, where he was a commercial fisherman at Moss Landing in Monterey Bay. For his last 20 years he ran the Ferro Motel in Cloverdale, California. Pompella died in 2000.