Friday, October 8, 2010

The Black Shoe - Back in Fashion

"God must love the surface line officer, He has made so many of them.  And, throughout the long history of the U.S. Navy, their faces have been different but the color of their shoes has remained the same.  BLACK.  Beautiful black!  Yet, fashions change and, for most of the past two centuries, the Black Shoe has been supplanted by seemingly faster steppers.  But black is back.  And ain't no-body better step on them no more!"
A bit of nostalgia from the December 1974 edition of PROCEEDINGS magazine from USNI.  The article was written by Lieutenant Commander P.M. Shepherd, USN.  He was commissioned under the Integration or "seaman to admiral" Program. From 1971-1972 he served as a shipboard advisor to the Vietnamese Fleet Command.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

There has always been competition in the ranks, so they say, amongst the various sectors of the Navy establishment. The Surface Warfare Pin was depicted as a graphic in this article, and I see that Supply Officers can rate one. Such insignia was at one time reserved for those on hazardous duty. In my time in the Navy I never witnessed a Supply Officer standing a Quarter Deck Watch or Officer of the Deck underway. I guess they did provide us with sandwiches after we were at GQ for numerous hours, is that how they rated that pin?

USNI by the way must have raised their standards over the years, they rejected some of your submissions but allowed this wording from the good Commander; But black is back. And ain't no-body better step on them no more! I am unimpressed but such wording.

Very Respectfully,
Navyman834

Anonymous said...

Navyman834,

I don't usually rise to the defense of the Supply community but I have to take issue with your comments. Don't know the type of ships you served aboard but the Supply Officers in the destroyers I served in did all of the jobs you mention and more including check-sight observer and director officer during combat off Vietnam. In later years most of the ones I served with manned the tower during flight operations for replenishment and ASW.

As for the article referenced, it's over 35 years old and was published when the SWO community was getting itself organized.

C-dore 14

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

I think most of the article was tongue in cheek. We all have our community sensitivities. I remember being called the PINK SHOE. (Being color blind, it never bothered me - gray and pink look the same to me.) We all choose our paths in the Navy. Having served in submarines, aircraft (turboprop/jets), aboard ship and ashore - it's all good from my perspective. Not much would I change. I am hopeful today's Sailors can enjoy as long, as challenging and as full a career as our generation did!!

Anonymous said...

C-dore 14

I stated the way things were when I was in the Navy, and that was more than 32 years ago. And I am a little out of date probably, because things do change. It was my observation that the Commanding Officers of Navy ships did not really trust anyone other than Line Officers to perform such military duties as OOD, underway or inport, or other strategic weapons stations onboard a Navy ship.

Actually I did make an error in my initial post on the subject. Back in 1956 the Navy was putting the Light Cruiser USS Manchester (CL 83) out of commission and most of the Commissioned Officers attached to the Manchester had been transferred from the ship. The OOD watch became so short on Line Officers to stand that watch that the Supply Officer was assigned to one of those watches. During that watch the OOD or one of the other watch standers observed a rat coming onto the ship from the brow. The OOD pulled his 45 and fired a shot at the rat. I do believe there was an investigation and it was determined the Supply Officer was not qualified in small arms, was not qualified to stand the OOD watch, but was qualified to reissue the spent round. I am unable to recall any other time that I witnessed an Officer other than a Line Officer stand an OOD watch on ships that I was stationed in. That does not include Warrant Officers, who are definitely military minded.

I did not mean to step on anyone's toes, and I did not include Medical Corps Officers and others who we as regular Navy always wondered whether they were really military minded or not (this does not include Navy Corpsmen/Women, Lord only knows that the military burial sites are filled with these good Sailors).

C-dore 14, if you really care to find what ships I served aboard you can check TogetherWeServed.Com

Very Respectfully,

E. A. Hughes, FTCM(SS)
US Navy (Retired)
Navyman834

Anonymous said...

Navyman834,

I respect every single post that I read on this blog. It puts into perspective where the Navy has come and where sometimes I wish it would go back to. The Navy and military in general has lost it's course and I fear that this ultimately will only bring grave danger to the people of this nation.

The military has become a bureaucratic machine with many MANY layers of excess personnel both military and civilian (on shore) and waste of money without proper funding in areas that need it (maintenance & training). The focus of the Navy has become diversity within the ranks and humanitarian peacekeeping missions.

I fear that our numbers over time will be reduced and our focus will diminish to that of a glorified coast guard.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,Oct. 15 1:23 AM

I do believe that you are right when you speak of the Navy no longer being as, or doing what it did in the past. The philosophy of the administration today is to be benign and let's talk about it. And the Navy slogan is “a global force for good.” This sounds a great deal more like a Girl Scout or Boy Scout motto than for a service whose main purpose was to fight any enemy to keep the sea lanes open. If the Navy follows the demands of the present administration, and they have no choice but to do anything other than that, it will most certainly be the continuation of the end for the Navy as a viable fighting force for the United States.

This may sound a little harsh for the tender ears of some, but from the time I entered the Navy we were taught that the main objective of our training was to eliminate the enemy that meant to kill them or at least kill enough of them where they were no longer a threat to us or our country. As I recall all the wars we as a country were engaged in during my years of service had to do with preventing the Communists from expanding their designs on controlling the world, and that was their philosophy for all those many years. Why did our country go to the extent we did for so many years? Because the Communists wanted to overthrow our form of government everywhere in this world, and if those of you who are not aware of the threat that the Muslims present to our way of life you had better wake up and come to the realization that the Muslims, or Islam, whichever you may prefer, has always preached "death to the infidel " and that just happens to be you and me and most of theindividuals that any of us have the honor of knowing. That includes your cousins, your parents, your children, your grandchildren and all your friends. Do you want that to happen? If you support a policy of non resistance to the things that are taking place today you better get some place to bury your family, because Islam is coming and we not be armed to stop them at the rate we are going.

Very Respectfully,

Navyman834