Why do we take Combat boot design so seriously?

Why do we take Combat boot design so seriously?

In 1974 I was just out of high school and needed work. Someone said ‘Go up the hill, they will take anyone who fronts up’.
So I knocked on the door of the stone-hearted Head Nurse of the Psychiatric Hospital.
” You got a police record? You orright in a blue ?” No and yes. I thought he wanted me to wear a blue tie.
Thud. ‘ Here’s your keys , go to it’. Big old dungeon doors keys .
Most of the wards held lost souls and the mentally impaired. Weird things happened but people got on pretty well.
Me , not knowing when to run for it , got rostered to the prison ward holding the criminally insane. Frightening place . If these psychotics got hold of a bobby pin or a ring pull tab you could lose an eye . I saw it happen.

I was sent to guard a murderer being treated in a civvy hospital. Found a feeble , pale old man quietly dying.
He didn’t want to die because he had seen hell already. Hell was the place where people came out of the woods at night to strip meat of your dead mates arms.Where the pus lifted your toe nails off and pulpy boots let you slip off the hill  until your foot got stuck in corpse’s ribcage . Not to forget the stinging caterpillar hairs which got behind your eyeballs. Those would be the mild corners of his hell. I can’t bear to write of the bad places he spoke of.

Old bloke was my age then when he went up the Kokoda track with two dozen mates. He was a hundred years older when he can back down by himself. Then General Blamey called him a rabbit and he crawled into a grog bottle.

Post war historically, but not in his head, he met a Jap on the stairs in a Fremantle boarding house. You got medals for killing Japs, so he did.  A desperately unlucky pearl diver from Broome. Then twenty years in Psych prison.

Crossfire Peacekeeper boots

Crossfire Peacekeeper boots

The old bloke had issues with the military which rotated through the conversation nightly. Desert Khaki uniforms which stood out like dogs balls in the green jungle killed his mates . Paper maché boots which slid off the track and killed his mates. Why wasn’t he given an Owen gun to save his mates with?

This man lived in hell in his head for thirty years . We spent a month of night shifts together. He died one 2am. God rest his soul .

So , it can be seen that there is some historical and emotional freight behind the work we put into military equipment. In respect for the old diggers who died for us we might do a little by way of good design for those who fight for us now .

Ref: The Owen Gun, Wayne Wardman

Photos:  WWII boot and military relics with John Sterenberg’s Crossfire Peacekeeper boots, taken by John on the Kokoda Track in 2012


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