The time has come again to replace my boots, or at least one pair of them.  In fact, you can’t really operate with only one pair because you just never know.  Being a cheap bastard, this occasion happens very infrequently.  Boots are expensive, they’re an investment.  You’re gonna drop between $100 to $180 for a pair.  If you pick the right type, they last and your daily cost shrinks to pennies a day for use.  This entry isn’t about the new boots.  They seem great, lightweight, not too stiff.  They show promise.

This entry is more an ode to the poor, blowed-out, run-over, stained pair being replaced.  They really deserve a note, you know.  They were issued to me way back in 2000, and were the pair I kept for light duty only so they would stay nice for a long time.  When the Army decided to go with the sand-colored suede for everyone, they went into daily use.  They carried my fat ass around Fort Irwin, Fort Knox, Fort Leavenworth, and many points in Korea.  That only lists the major posts I lived at and doesn’t capture the various travel locales I’ve been.  They became my go-to travel boots for air travel because they have no steel shank in the sole (to protect me from Viet Cong punji sticks)(Don’t try to figure it out, just go with that) so they don’t set off the TSA scanner.

These boots carried me to Afghanistan and back.  Prior to that the suede had dried and started to furrow and crack.  After coming home, there were fully-developed splits on the outside at the point my toes bend.  You could tell what color socks I was wearing through the splits. The heels are all run over on the sides, exaggerated on the right boot, making walking on level ground feel like traversing a hill laterally.  The nylon canvas ankle parts were faded out and some sections turned pink after I soaked the boots in bleach water to kill the stench.  The padding foam built into the top have long disintegrated.  I cleaned them many times, removing dust, mud, sand, unknown liquid stains, salt, and stains of my own blood from them. They were so well broken in that there was a long period where they fit like sneakers.  At this point I can’t even hazard a guess as to how many miles I have walked in them.  Sadly, the Sneaker Period had long since come and gone, and walking in them and wearing them had grown painful.

In many ways, they remind me of the very first pair of boots I had ever been issued.  Those were black leather, and had eyelets for the laces since the tan suede and speed-lace metal loops were yet to come.  The leather was smooth grained and took polish like a dress shoe.  You could return from field duty with the heels and toes worn down to gray and have spitshined, strack boots the next day.  A quick soak in hot water and wear them dry, they were broken in forever.  Yes, I am still sentimental about those.  I wore those boots until the soles were worn painfully thin.

The recently-replaced set will likely rotate to yardwork duty now, a sort of retirement status I grant my worn out Army boots. There’s no sentimentality here.  After all this time, normal shoes don’t feel right to me anymore.


10 Responses to “Boots”

  1. It reminds me of my time in British Army…..

  2. cheeerz brainsssssss, half of my family still serve here and back home in Pakistan. MashAllah all commission officers with brave heart of soldier as we say…..

  3. […] first recommendation is “Boots,” (15 Jun 11), a sad eulogy for an old pair of combat boots. Then there’s “The Left Coast […]

  4. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    Total awesomesauce! (This would have been a great one to have gotten FP’d)

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