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Brown Shoes Are Back

According to AlNav 151 of Oct. 20, 1986, brown shoes with khakis will be worn by all officers with aviation designators, all CPOs in aviation ratings and "qualified flight surgeons, aviation physiologists and aviation experimental psychologists" assigned to aviation units.

The change goes into effect April 1, 1987.

The directive says that brown shoes and khaki socks can be worn with summer and working khakis. This means that brown shoes will be allowed ashore.

The exact type of shoe required is clearly spelled out in the AlNav: "The only authorized shoe will be a low-quarter, plain-toe, brown, leather dress shoe. No alternatives are authorized. Specifically, any form of boot is prohibited."

Source: "Brown Shoes Are Back." All Hands. 837 (December 1986): 2-3.


Recruits March Toward Future in New Boots
By Journalist 2nd Class Jessica Pearce, Naval Service Training Command Great Lakes Public Affairs.

NAVAL STATION GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) - Sailors in training at Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes are enjoying better orthopedic health thanks to a new pair of boots developed here, which has changed the standard for basic footwear for the fleet.

The new boots, which recruits began receiving April 21, have been the subject of exhaustive tests and extensive research. The new boots have increased shock absorbency and are more compliant with the movement of the foot and ankle. The alterations were made to reduce stress fractures, musculo-skeletal disorders, and knee and lower back pain.

In 1998, the stress fracture rate at RTC was 1.92 per 1,000, which meant that for every 1,000 recruits, almost two suffered from a potentially disabling stress fracture. Cmdr. Kerry Thompson, a licensed physical therapist previously assigned to the Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) Training department, began exploring the relationship between the boots recruits were wearing and stress fracture rates.

Thompson and the NSTC Strategic Training Analysis Cell (STAC) studied the injuries and ultimately recommended the use of gym shoes for training, until a new boot could be developed that would provide greater shock absorbency and reduce injuries. Those changes resulted in a reduction of the stress fracture rate to .76 per 1,000.

"The boots the recruits had been wearing were not designed or intended for recruits, who march 26 miles a week," said Ron Fry, who is in charge of uniform issue for the recruits. "Those boots were designed for shipboard life."

With the data collected in the STAC study, Navy representatives worked with Bates uniform footwear on the development of the new boot.

Jim Schiffelbein, vice president of Sales for Bates uniform footwear, explained how the new boots are better for recruits.

"As new technology comes along, we find new products for safety," he said. "We take that technology and ask, how can this help us reduce injury?"

Lt. Cmdr. Lanny Boswell, a medical researcher and sports medicine doctor, said the new boots are an exciting addition to the Navy uniform.

"Medically speaking, this is very exciting for all the Navy shipboard standards. This boot is made of standard composite materials blended with biomechanics," Boswell said. "This boot is more orthopedically correct, more compliant with the movement of the foot and ankle. It's one-third lighter, and 60 percent more shock absorbent. This is premium footwear for any Sailor."

After the current safety boot was designed, it was taken to the Indiana University biomechanics lab, where the design was approved. After that, it was time for the pilot study. Although initially the tests were only going to include 1,000 pairs of boots, that total was eventually doubled. The boots were tested on women, with their sister division being the control group.

"Women have a higher incidence of musculo-skeletal injuries in this environment," said Thompson. "When compared to their sister division, there was a significant reduction in the amount of injuries with the new boots. In addition to a reduction in stress fractures, there were also less foot problems, including blisters."

Officials at Great Lakes also worked closely with the Navy Uniform Board and Navy safety experts to ensure the new boot met Navy standards for fire retarding qualities, treat pattern and other shipboard safety concerns.

As the recruits received their boots and put them on April 22, one commented that the boots were "more comfortable than my tennis shoes!" That, Thompson said, was one of the most common comments they received from the test group.

"The recruits said that the new boots were comfortable when they first put them on, and that they would be willing to buy them again," he said.

The Navy Uniform Board approved the change in November 2002, as a uniform improvement. The boots will be available to the fleet later this year.

Source: Pearce, Jessica. "Recruits March Toward Future in New Boots." Navy Newsstand. story no. NNS030425-19. 28 April 2003. [Available online at]



44-214-Shoes and Working Uniforms

29 February 1944

Because of restricted supply present WPB allocations clothing and textiles necessitate closer scrutiny and supervision in use and replacements particularly shoes and items working uniform. Direct precautionary measures requiring maximum utilization be instituted. - SecNav. Frank Knox.

Source: "Shoes and Working Uniforms." Navy Department Bulletin. (January-June, 1944): 100.

Published: Thu Jan 12 09:46:57 EST 2017