Mohawk Widden

Guy Whidden, a 96-year-old World War II veteran, shaved his head into a mohawk to honor his fallen comrades from the war and raise morale as America fights through the COVID-19 pandemic. He is holding a copy of his book Between the Lines and Beyond and wearing his military service combat jacket in this photo taken Sunday at his home in Braddock Heights.

Guy Whidden has had his hair styled into a mohawk before — if only for a few hours.

While serving in World War II, many American troops shaved the sides of their heads to try to intimidate the Germans. Whidden followed suit the night before D-Day. He was the only one in his platoon who did, although he knew men in other platoons who had.

When his lieutenant saw it, he asked that he shave it off. He did.

So now, at 96, Whidden has a mohawk, thanks to a little help from his granddaughter Lydia Arshadi.

She helped him film a YouTube video of the process, which has since gained 70,000 views on Facebook. And no one’s asking him to shave this one off.

“A lot of people are going through a lot of problems with the [coronavirus], some of them are frightened, some of them are just concerned, and they’re locked in and it gets boring to a certain extent,” Whidden said. “I just thought this would add a little humor or something to the whole thing.”

Whidden has done a lot to keep the memories of his fallen comrades alive, from going to Normandy every year to jumping out of a plane on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. He was the only one of his squad that made it out of D-Day alive.

“We did it to inspire people to do it, as an homage and honor to his fallen comrades, and kind of thought it was funny so we videotaped it,” Arshadi said.

The video has been shared hundreds of times online, and Whidden and Arshadi have received dozens of photographs from people who have also cut their hair into a mohawk, many of whom are in the military themselves.

“I’ve always been optimistic all of my life. A smile goes a long ways,” Whidden said. “So I thought that might create a little interest among my airborne friends, a lot of them who are currently airborne, not just the old timers like myself. I don’t think any of them are interested in wearing a mohawk. But I’d like to.”

For Whidden, bringing people together with something fun and lighthearted is important right now.

“To me, it’s like a wake-up call. Back in our day, World War II was referred to as a national emergency. And this is what we’re going through now, a national emergency. This isn’t easy for people, and everybody’s working together, and that’s the good part of it, just like we did back in World War II.”

Whidden said that he’s seen people working together in news stories on TV and in newspapers. That, at least, is providing him hope that the world is becoming more caring.

While he lives alone in an apartment beneath his son and daughter-in-law, he has still been going out on walks with his walker at a nearby track. He said he was still running regularly up until a few years ago when he had a stroke.

Arshadi, who left her place in New York City to stay with her family before the stay-at-home orders went into place, is setting him up to play digital bridge with his friends, who he’s used to seeing regularly. He’s also figured out how to use Zoom and other video chatting apps.

Arshadi is just glad she could help out.

“I felt very privileged to do this as a tribute to his fallen comrades. But more importantly, it’s just a way for us to bring everybody together, and make things a bit more lighthearted than they are now,” she said. “And I think aside from the tribute, everybody got a good giggle to see a 96-year-old with a mohawk.”

Follow Erika Riley on Twitter: @ej_riley.

(17) comments

dougmerson

Awesome, just awesome! My grandfather was the radio operator on a B17 that was shot down over Germany on 2-24-1944. He survived the crash, but was eventually captured by the Nazis. He spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp. He past away 14 years ago, but I know he would have gotten a kick out of this story! Thank you so much for your service sir!

Alice Jones

Wow. Sounds like one of that generations finest. Well done. Rest in Peace.

Whatsup

You go Grandpa!!! You look great.

bosco

Mr. Whidden is like the Energizer Bunny. I remember an article in the FNP when he did the 50th anniversary jump. What a guy. We can all learn something from him.

drudake

All the way, Airborne!

dancing donna

Thank you for your service Mr. Whidden. An inspiring story and I love your smile!

HappySeller2014

What a wonderful, refreshing and beautiful article.

Guy, you are a hero. It is an honor having you reside so close to me on the Braddock Heights mountaintop. Your sacrifice and bravery has alloeed my family to live in peace for generations, and I have much respect for you and both my grandparents who fought in Europe during WWII.

Lydia, God Bless you for your kindness and such a nice tribute. Beautiful video. Put on a Baltimore Orioles hat and we will make you an honorary Marylander. You and your grandad stay safe and healthy, and my prayers are with your two, all Marylanders, all New Yorkers, and literally all of us in this together.

bumblebeenyc

Thank you so much for your kind words, I will share this with my Grandfather. I am actually originally from Maryland, but I suppose I was a "trader" wearing the Yankees hat! lol. He got a kick out of learning about modern day technology and seeing how far his messaging could go. Thanks so much FNP for featuring a happy, local story! It made [our] day!

HappySeller2014

Please do share. Good to hear from you. I am sure this article is causing chuckles and smiles on hundreds of faces, near and wide. Your grandfather is lucky to have you, and vice versa. Stay safe, stay healthy, and nice job with the trim!

jwhamann

Why did they take his photo in front of a white background. I can hardly see it...

HappySeller2014

Because he is AIRBORNE. You wouldn't understand jw. AIRBORNE SCREAMING EAGLE, and all those who fought as part of it, look good, all the time.

If it bothers you, get a sharpie and color in the eagle's white head black on your phone screen.

Beautiful article. Why complain? Go out and take a walk my friend. Beautiful day outside this AM! Walk off you negativity and return a grateful guy for waking up this morning and reading a wonderful FNP article.

jwhamann

Read the headline and then look at the photo. Jeesh. The point of the story IS the mohawk otherwise there wouldn’t be a story.

bumblebeenyc

Hi there! There are full photos of his mohawk on his Facebook Fan Page if you're interested in seeing more of them, and also all of the contributions that have poured in... search "friends of guy whidden ww2 paratrooper 502nd 101st airborne" and you will see his "After" 'do. Thanks for your support!

HappySeller2014

No jw. The point of the story is a great man and his granddaughter. Focus on the mowhawk and you miss out on 95% of the story and 100% of the family love being shown to a HERO.

Any complaints to this article should be shoved back up the hole they came up from. You should be ashamed jw.

Alice Jones

Mr. Whidden - without doubt, you are the man. Forever grateful and in awe.

Learch

That I great. 👍🏻 Thanks for your service

penelopedevereux

Keep finding stories like these. His smile, wit and positive attitude made my day!

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