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Brown Shoes

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Old September 7th 08, 04:44 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Scott Seders
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Default Brown Shoes

How did the tradition start of naval aviators wearing brown shoes?

Scott Seders

Old September 7th 08, 06:57 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
John Szalay
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Posts: 518
Default Brown Shoes

"Scott Seders" wrote in news:F-

How did the tradition start of naval aviators wearing brown shoes?

Scott Seders

Even easier to read..

Old September 8th 08, 03:03 AM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
R Leonard[_2_]
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Posts: 4
Default Brown Shoes

On Sep 7, 11:44*am, "Scott Seders" wrote:
How did the tradition start of naval aviators wearing brown shoes?

Scott Seders

Brown Shoes, khakis, and Greens. . . more than you ever wanted to

When the USN got into the aviation business (circa 1910) there was no
special uniform designated for aviators. When flying the early pilots
generally wore civilian clothes as they were more practical. In those
days the standard ‘‘workday' uniform for officers was either service
dress blues or service dress whites, both terms that have survived to
today. The service dress blues were, in design, not unlike the dress
blouse worn today at places like West Point, VMI or Citadel except
they were navy blue (not black) wool with gold sleeve stripes as
appropriate and collar brass of the rank insignia and an anchor (the
collar devices went away with the 1913 regulations). The service dress
whites were not terribly different from those worn today, a high
collar cotton duck blouse with shoulder boards as appropriate and gold
buttons. Eventually it was quickly recognized that officers involved
in aviation had a disgusting tendency to get their hands and clothes
quite filthy and that the effect on the service dress uniforms was
unacceptable to the powers above ... nor could they have the dashing
airmen running around in civilian clothes.

Unofficially, the pattern had already been set. As early as the winter
of 1912-1913 naval aviators adopted the khaki of their Marine
counterparts, wearing Marine Corps breeches and leather puttees as
permitted in the Marines' 1912 regulation change and dying their
service whites and covers of their white service caps to match. This
uniform was also worn during the Veracruz affair of 1914 and is the
beginnings of khaki use in the USN. In June 1917, this unofficial
uniform became official with the change of wrapped wool replacing the
leather puttees (which, of course, meant to wear leather puttees was,
as we would say today, a measure of cool). Officers could also wear
khaki trousers instead of breeches and were also authorized a khaki
shirt. To prevent the uniform from becoming overly soiled, a one piece
overall of khaki canvas could be worn to protect it. As with the then
Marine custom, brown shoes were worn, thus aviators became "Brown
Shoes" and everyone else were "Black Shoes."

By September 1917 it was recognized that while the khaki uniform was
satisfactory for summer, it would be rather uncomfortable in winter.
Thus "Aviation Greens" came into existence. The color was defined as
Marine Corps Forest Green. This uniform was cut in the pattern of the
service dress whites and was made of wool with dark brown buttons.
There were breast pockets and shoulder boards were required. Brown
shoes were required. A month later, a forest green overcoat was
authorized and the khaki and green uniforms were further authorized
for wear by officers assigned to aviation command who were not

All was not roses, however. The 1922 regulations abolished special
uniforms for aviators effective 1 July 1923, leaving the aviators with
service blues (now changed to close to the style we know today) and
service whites. All was not lost, though, two years later, the
"working" aviation uniforms were reinstated. They were now single
breasted, four pocket, and roll collared; a khaki shirt with black tie
was required for both khakis and greens. The buttons were black.
Breeches with brown leather puttees were authorized as were trousers
to be worn with brown shoes. Rank was denoted by black mohair sleeve
stripes. Khaki's were authorized for submariners (who also had the
disgusting tendency to inordinately dirty their uniforms) in 1931 and
pin on rank devices were authorized for both uniforms at the same

In February 1941, khakis were authorized for all officers has a
working uniform at the discretion of the commanding officer. In April
1941 a final change was made to the khaki uniform when sleeve stripes
were no longer authorized and shoulder boards were mandated; buttons
were changed from dark brown to gold. With slight variation (for
example, breeches puttees eventually went away in the mid 1930's)
these uniforms worn by the USN in World War II and are coming back
into use today.

During the war Fleet Admiral EJ King designed a grey uniform that he
proposed to be all purpose, eliminating khaki and the service dress
blues (which he felt, reportedly, were too much like the Royal
Navy). Never a popular uniform and generally only worn in King's
presence or in East Coast commands where he was likely to appear, it
barely survived his tenure and was no longer authorized after 1948.

For a brief time in the 1980's aviation greens were not authorized and
the use of brown shoes with khakis was likewise done away with, but in
the late 1990’s greens made a comeback and are authorized to be worn
as an aviation working uniform with brown shoes. In the last 20
years or so khakis have been relegated to a service type working
uniform, open collar type, but the service dress khaki blouse with
shoulder boards, black tie and brown shoes for the aviators has made a
return and is in limited use in some commands.



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