Posted by: lcowie | September 24, 2009

Elon ROTC Cadet Matt Dinwiddie proves to be as tough as an old boot

Photos courtesy of Chris Sonzogni

Photos by Chris Sonzogni

Cadet Matt Dinwiddie groans and rises, as his alarm reverberates through his room at 4:30 a.m. His classmates remain fast asleep, not having to wake for a couple hours.

As per his Tuesday/Thursday routine, Dinwiddie showers and throws on his comfortable olive green, black and tan uniform. He reaches for his matching socks and boots. The Indiana native will meet the other junior cadets at Target and carpool 30 minutes to North Carolina A&T University, the Elon ROTC’s battalion headquarters, for assessment training.

“For Tuesdays, for class, I guess it’s a personal preference [to wear your uniform all day],” Dinwiddie said. “For a lot of us, we’re going from 5 a.m. to whenever class is over. If you go and change…it’s not really worth it for a lot of people, so we just prefer to stay in uniform all day. As long as it’s not really hot or really cold, it [the uniform] is actually pretty comfortable.”

According to Dinwiddie, comfort is essential. It’s really important in the Army, he says, because you’re always on your feet.

Breaking in the boots

Having not been a so-called “military brat,” Cadet Dinwiddie had to pick up a few tricks about comfort from his war veteran counterparts while he was training at Fort Knox in the summer.

“When you first get your boots, they don’t fit at all,” he said. “You have to go through this whole process. You have to soak your boots in water, then you have to walk around in them to get the feel right in them, then you have to let them sit and completely dry. The next time you wear them, they’re broken in. Some of the guys who had been to Iraq, and to Afghanistan as well, that’s what they used to break in their boots.”


Dinwiddie went on to say that he wears custom orthopedic boots to take care of his feet. Some cadets wear gel insoles inside their boots to maximize comfort. Even Dinwiddie’s Under Armour socks play a strategic role.

“Socks that are too thin or too thick will actually cause blisters, and that’s a whole other world of problems,” he said. “One of the things about socks is that you kind of figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. I prefer the Under Armour socks because they work the moisture away.”

Breaking in the man

According to Dinwiddie, a cadet’s boots can tell a lot about his or her job in the military.

“These boots aren’t polished at all,” he said. “You can clean them, but they’ll never get quite to the same level. People who are actually in the field the most are the people with the dirtiest boots….People who have the new boots are the ones who sit in the office.”

In addition, he said, if someone’s laces are not tied very tightly, it shows that the cadet does not do much work in the field. If someone’s laces are tied tighter, it shows he or she is in the field more often and is a go-getter.

Dinwiddie will become a 2nd Lt. in the US Army upon graduation from Elon. Watch this video for more information about Dinwiddie and his boots:


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