Period Boots by Glen Carey

Lets start from the feet up!

Firstly there are two types of boot which were worn in the very early days of the conflict, these are the Standard US Army Leather boot and the Okinawa boot. Now don't let that fool you into thinking there are only two types. firstly the US Army issued boots in Brown and Black, there are pictures of guys in the advisory days wearing the brown patrol boots although most are seen wearing the Black version. Added to that you have the fact that SF troopers often wore Corcorans Jump boots with the toe cap to show off their Airborne status. In addition to this Corcoran also produced a standard patrol boot without the Airborne connotation (The recognisable toe cap), these boots were available for private purchase and were a better quality of boot than the USGI boots. As with most private purchase uniform they were more commonly worn by Lifers (professional soldiers).
The Tropical Combat Boots (Okinawa boots) were first standardized in August 1945. They feature a cleated rubber sole and uppers made from leather and cotton canvas or in some cases Nylon duck, two screened drainage eyelets fitted in the inside arch of the boot, six lacing eyelets and two leather straps with brass buckles.
The Tropical / Oki Boots were issued in Vietnam during the advisory period of the late 1950's to early 1960's. However they had their limitations, the stitched soles had a tendency to rot in the damp jungle environment and the buckles would snag on foliage and branches. Although they proved troublesome they clearly inspired the later boots which carried across many of the original features.

The DMS jungle boot was developed to replace the Tropical Combat Boot due to its deterioration. Special Forces in Southeast Asia in August 1960 were issued the new DMS (Direct Moulded Sole) boots which featured leather and nylon duck uppers which had been vulcanized directly on to Vibram pattern outsoles. The neck of the boot, backstay, heel portion and toe areas were leather for strength with canvas insert side panels to aid drying times, once again a pair of screened brass drainage eyelets were set into the inner arch. Although these are the first Jungle boot as we know them they were never in Vietnam in any large volume.

The 2nd pattern of Jungle Boot used 1-inch wide nylon webbing as reinforcement in place of leather for the neck and backstay. The only other difference was that the screened brass eyelets in the inner arch were set flush to the leather as opposed to being sunken as they were on the 1st pattern boots


Dating early jungle boots is fairly simple, the early pattern boots have a small white label inside the tongue of the boot. This label will read DSA-1-4959- ?? – E The question marks denote the year – Pictured above are a 1964 dated pair

The third and fourth versions of the DMS Jungle boot are identical to look at apart from the sole. This is what is meant when people refer to the Vibram or Panama soles. The only other difference between the two boots is a non-visible one, the Panama or 4th pattern boots had a steel shank fitted inside the sole of the boot.

'An excerpt from Trey Moores website'
The Panama Sole with spike protection was approved in 1966 along with the new spike plate being added to the Vibram sole, but does not seem to be used on production boots until mid 1967. The delay is likely a result of the extensive process required to make new molds and the fact that manufacturers still had existing contracts for the old sole. The pair shown below are the earliest that I have seen and are June 1967 dated. However, it is not uncommon to see boots from Late 1967 and early to mid 1968 with Vibram soles as well (see above). From 1969 on, production is exclusively Panama. Despite these production dates, the Panama sole never reached the issue numbers of the Vibram during the Vietnam War and are not as commonly seen.

Dating these boots is simple, the date stamp is the three digits to the right of the tongue stamp, in this case February 1971. On the Vibram soled boots the stamp is repeated around the outside of the neck of the boot