Jump Boots – the Airborne trademark

508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team

Distinctive as Airborne itself, so are the dark, glistening jump boots of a paratrooper.  Troopers glory in their significance and only they know the secret pride when they glance down at their boots, polished like glass, and see in them the reflected valorous traditions of AIRBORNE _____ By: Cpl. Jim Ethridge

Jump boots belong to the paratroopers!  They are as distinctive as the airborne itself.  Others in the armed forces may wear them, but the dark glistening boots are the original trademark of the swaggering soldiers-of-the-sky.

At Fort Campbell, as with other installations were paratroopers are stationed, it is the jumpers’ delight to “fall out” each morning with starched fatigues, blocked hat and the mirrored footwear.

Corcoran Paratrooper boots

This is true of the 508th Airborne Regimental Combat team.  The doughty Red Devils flash all the dash and verve that marked the paratroopers of yesterday.  Very early paratroopers wore ordinary army shoes and some even used tennis shoes.

Then somebody devised a leather ankle-top boot with a big metal buckle across the top of the arch.  but this proven impractical after several paratroopers came down looking like spiders trying to get the suspension line unhooked from the buckle.

Next came the boot called the Corcoran.  The most beloved of the several brands of jump boots on the market.  These are still the main choice of the airborne warriors.

the boots of a “Flying Tiger”

Another popular, well-appearing boot is the Skymaster, which has the same thick sole and slash heel as the Corcoran, but it doesn’t quite have the snub, upturned hard toe of today’s famed boot.

An early fad was to replace the manufacturer’s eyelets with huge brass grommets.  The grommets called for the nightly ritual of removing the 72-inch leather laces and running a blitz cloth through the big eyelets – all 48 of them!

Red Devils and other paratroopers alike take pride in this hallmark of distinction.  They glory in its significance.  They are proud soldiers when they glance down at their boots, polished like glass, and see reflected the valorous traditions of the Airborne!

This article and pictures below are from: “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association, Matt Underwood, Editor

paratrooper gear of the Pacific Theater

paratrooper 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Bettin – Milwaukee, WI; US Navy, corpsman, USS Jason

Walter Grisevich – Hartford, CT; USMC, WWII, PTO

Katheryn Hatch Klaveano – Woods Cross, UT; US Navy WAVE, WWII, flight orderly

Fernand “Bucko” Lambert – Artic Village, RI; US Army, Korea

Moises A, Navas – Germantown, MD; USMC, Iraq, Captain, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Purple Heart, KIA

John E. Nichols – Springfield, VA; USMC; Cuba, Vietnam, Major (Ret. 44 y.)

Diego D. Pongo – Simi Valley, CA; USMC, Iraq, GSgt., 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA

Wayne Smith Jr. – Fort Benning, GA; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Div. / Vietnam, adviser, Bronze Star, West Point alum ’49

Max von Sydow – Lund, SWE; Swedish Army, Quartermaster Corps / beloved actor

Ken Wright – Avalon Beach, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, Flight Lt., Spitfire pilot

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 12, 2020, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 115 Comments.

  1. Though I was never a paratrooper, I wore them. They looked sharp, shined up incredibly. Today I wear the coyote brown boots because no black boots before or since measure up to the old paratrooper boots. I wish I still had mine from my Army days.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to read a post like this gp, an insignificant piece of tradition to many but a great piece of pride to the wearer, cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As MPs were were supposed to wear jump boots when we working garrison duty. The shined up nice, looked good, but I learned quickly they weren’t the best boot for prolonged walking. When he did the Nihamegan road march in Holland, I wore Hermann Survivors (we were allowed to in Germany). Everyone else wore jump boots. My feet was in good shape afterward compared to most of my team. One kid left a lot of blood in his boot. Even said, I was pretty sure I’d never walk again they hurt so much.

    I guess the art of building a good jump boot has fallen by the wayside.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My gosh. I knew uniforms were a point of pride, and of course I’ve heard of “spit shines,” but it never had occurred to me that even boots can have a history. This was fascinating, and it brought to mind one tiny connection I have with military gear: my black patent leather Mary Janes were almost as shiny as their boots!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing the history of jump boots

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have never liked polishing shoes, G! And “removing the 72-inch leather laces and running a blitz cloth through the big eyelets – all 48 of them!” made me so nervous I had to go drink a beer. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for the lesson in footwear, GP. May you be safe through this virus crisis. Perhaps the country will actually find a reason to unite.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Those look like sturdy boots, and good for protecting ankles!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey GP! A short note between two laughter attacks.
    Now , over the last two years we got bombed by TV airings about DJT’s ancestors, family, businesses, and much more of the “bad guy”!. Lol Now our Bavarian radio station “B5aktuell” is airing about social issues of citizens in the USA. This all sounds a little bit more like the well known propaganda done by former USSR stations. I always thought German (s officials) and the USA are “best friends”. Lol Have a wonderful weekend! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How proud they were! That must have been some nightly chore. I know men who still spit shine their shoes every night after serving in the military.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Because the divisional staff had morphed into a gaggle of fat bodies, and I’m speaking now of the senior officers, mostly field grade, with the senior enlisted men following that poor example, the CG ordered the headquarters commandant to devise a mandatory physical training program that incorporated individual as well as unit exercises. The latter involved a series of field marches beginning with just a few miles, eventually working up to a 50-mile march. This would be accomplished, the CG ordered, regardless of rank or position.

    The least happy individual during the entire program was none other than the chief of staff of the division headquarters, a colonel, formerly an artillery officer, who believed that his position and time in service entitled him to his own personal jeep. The CG soon squared his sense of entitlement away, but that didn’t curtail his loud complaining about the worthless USMC field boots or the blisters he incurred, which in my view didn’t do much for inspiring junior officers of the enlisted men. Everyone had blisters on their feet, including the CG.

    In any case, on the day preceding the 25-mile march, this colonel called down to the sickbay and requested that a corpsman report to him in his office and explain to him how he might avoid getting those damn foot blisters. So, the petty officer informed the colonel that he should powder his feet, slip on a pair of dress socks, and then on top of those, a pair of field socks. This would reduce the friction of foot movement inside his boots. The doc also suggested that he change his socks regularly since wet socks made blisters more likely. Finally, the corpsman told him that if he should feel the burn of a developing blister, he could apply blister pads, which were normally available at the corner pharmacy.

    That evening, the chief of staff purchased blister pads on the way home after work. In fact, the colonel bought every package of blister pad that the pharmacy had on the shelf, and sometime before muster the next morning, completely covered his feet in these blister pads. He not only wrapped his feet in them, but he also cut out sections of the pads to wrap around his toes—and to make sure that they stayed in place, he wrapped his feet in surgical adhesive tape.

    Of course, with all this additional material, along with two pairs of socks, his feet no longer fit inside his boots. Discarding the field socks, his feet were still too snug, so he discarded the dress socks, too. But he did apply liberal doses of foot powder inside his boots. Seemingly, with feet wrapped in blister pads and adhesive, his feet felt “just right” inside his boots. The battalion stepped off promptly at 0630.

    Fourteen hours later the march was completed, and all hands were dismissed. Most of the men went home to attend to their feet —as did the chief of staff— but unhappily (for him) he wasn’t able to remove his boots. The heat produced by his feet had melted all that adhesive material and essentially glued his feet inside his boots. Somewhere in America, there is an emergency room physician telling the story about the moron colonel who had managed to glue his feet to his boots and how it took well over two hours to cut them off his feet, which were in remarkably good condition given the length of his walk that day.

    This is why Marines were not allowed to wear Army jump boots. It would be a crime having to cut those wonderful looking boots off the feet of senior officers who should never have made it past first lieutenant.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I like that you focus on one thing like these boots that would be lifesaving equipment in some situations.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting point of pride, but I think I can understand that.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You don’t find that very often! History hiding where I would not even have suspected there was any history. I just thought boots were boots were boots. But clearly, they’re not, so a big thanks for sharing that with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Man, I hated breaking in my boots – but once they were, they were like skin. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Hmmm! Maybe we should say, never criticize a man unless you’ve humped a mile in his jump boots!

    I remember my Corcoran jump boots well. I also had a pair made by a Korean shoemaker when I was stationed at Camp Casey in South Korea. I believe they were made out of goat hide. I had that pair for a long time. They were comfortable boots!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Still remember how to spit shine boots. Don’t know if the current generation of troops is still taught this?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This post reminded me of Navy Seal who was a student of mine at the Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk. He had qualified as a Seal at the age of 51! He was medically discharged at age 59 after breaking his back in a parachuting accident. He was one tough old bird!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I just concluded some extensive research on my biological grandfather who was a doctor in teh Army Medical Corps in WWII, and I was looking for combat medicine information. There are TONS of really informative sites out there with scans of the old books and such, like this one: https://abmceducation.org/sites/default/files/activity/Gallagher-Army%20Talks.pdf If you’re interested, I can find the links where I located them all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I put that link in my favorite. The information would make excellent posts, don’t you think? If you would prefer to do that – just let me know and I’ll reblog you.

      Like

  20. Since our feet are comprised of so many bones, those jump boots must be so well-made to be comfortable and safe for the enormous force inflicted on them when the paratroopers land on the ground.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Cool story, GP. Did you ever learn how to spit polish boots or shoes?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I wish my dad was alive to read this – as a WWII paratrooper, he would have LOVED it. I never saw his jump boots “in person” but noticed them in a newspaper article about him and a few of his fellow paratroopers on D Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This was a fun story to read. Your dad must’ve been so proud looking down at his jump boots… as you are!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I have my dad’s dog tags and somewhere around here is a bayonet tip.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Paratroops here always liked the fact that they had distinctive boots, different helmets, and specialist assault weapons. Some of the many things that give extra esprit de corps to elite forces.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ah memories. I remember watching my ex husband (he wasn’t a paratrooper though) polish his boots, buff them, heat them up with a cigarette lighter, reapply more polish, buff them again. He’d do this until he could see his reflection in them.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I had no idea they were so different. I did wonder how paratroopers’ knees and legs could take the shock of landing. Good article, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I so enjoy reading your posts and Always learn something, thank you! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Super post, GP. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I knew that one! Not the whole history of the boots but something about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll bet you did, Priest.
      I’ve been wondering, are you sorry some times that you left the military?

      Like

      • No I´m not sorry I left, they kicked me out.
        So was the medal of honor Dakota Mayer….

        Liked by 1 person

        • They didn’t care for your ‘style’, eh?! 🙂

          Like

          • They cared when they needed me, although it wasn´t a popular thing to phisically hit a Liutenant before a deployment, even then I got the support of the lower ranks and they deployed me. That was my style hitting a Liutenan and a woman to add injury to insult for not doing her job and I was seeing that after months of training with a seargent this lady was going to get us all killed. And also hated that the only reason “they” put her in charge of 20 people was only because she was a woman. And when I saw her making us doing some crazy and dangerous maneuvers where on of my guys got actually shot in the leg, the switched flipet and I punched the liutenant. Apart from that, I was a damn good soldier.

            Liked by 1 person

  31. Justifiable pride in an essential piece of kit

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I forget to say, in Germany jump boots are allocated at the right wing area, since they need to have better shoes. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Your military humor is priceless again, GP ! Lol
    I remember polishing military boots wasnt one of my best skills, during service. 🙂
    But it went better after i used for this oil made for weapons. 😉 Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Always an interesting read. What uniform was worn by the 11th in the Pacific : M1942 paratrooper uniform or HBT?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to say because due to the humid weather, unusual mud – their uniforms would basically fall apart at a much quicker rate than in Europe. Their uniforms were constantly having to be repaired and replaced. The picture here today is the perfect example of how the paratrooper would start out.
      Thank you for staying in touch, Stefaan.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Details you never think about. So glad that Sandra Russell Lyons added her comment. Yes, treasures!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. When tightly laced they
    provide ankle support when landing with a force of jumping off a 20 foot tall building.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Sorry I’ve been MIA for quite awhile but life and health got in the way.
    I love this article and still have my father’s jump boots and they are among my prized possessions. He always joked that he wanted to be buried in them but towards the end of life changed his mind and handed them to me along with many of his uniform items. I cherish them and though they have seen there better days, boys could they tell us a story or two.

    Liked by 7 people

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