James took time out of his flight training to answer a few questions for me. Thank you for your service James and for helping put a face to the reason why I'm getting my boots on!
Tour(s): Iraq ’10-’11
What do your boots mean to you? My boots are actually one of my most prized pieces of gear. Boots truly do decide your comfort level and moral more than anything else in a lot of situations. Choosing the right kind of boots for the environment you're going to find yourself in is extremely important if you don't want to be in pain.
I love wearing combat boots, which is why I still wear my old black jungle boots for riding my motorcycle. Sometimes even when I'm not.
Boots are also extremely symbolic. There's a reason a lot of soldiers memorials have a set of combat boots, a rifle and a Kevlar. As long as a soldier has good boots, a functional rifle, and a good helmet, they can basically accomplish anything.
Soldiers in the older wars owed their survival to having good boots in a lot of ways. Keeping your feet warm and dry is an extremely important part of maintaining a soldiers ability to operate in all climates.
Do you still wear your boots? I wear my boots everyday! I use my old black ones when I'm riding my motorcycle, most comfortable footwear I own! I have to wear flight approved boots, which I do not suggest, as they're very heavy and not very flexible. I'm sure they'd be terrible for riding a bike.
Tips or tricks for breaking in the boots: As far as breaking them in, just comes from wearing them. No real secret to it honestly. Best advice I could give would be to buy the boots 2 or 3 weeks prior if possible, and just wear them around as much as you can. Also, buy some waterproofing spray and give them a couple nice doses of that while you're at it.
Suggestions / advice for getting through the tough times during RAGBRAI? To be honest, when I come to a situation like that, I just convince myself that I literally can't stop. It's not an option.
What should civilians know about how to support veterans? Just trust us....have patience. It's hard to adjust back, and we make mistakes just like anyone else. In the end, we just want to know that there's someone at home who loves us as much as we love them.
It's harder because so much happens over there that nobody at home can relate to. We do still love though, and we do still want the same things other people strive for. We're just generally more passionate about it because we've all come close to losing everything.