By Boot Girl Myra
It’s probable most kids settle in at night with their blankie, but little Teresa recalls going to bed clutching her daddy’s t-shirts she pulled from the dirty laundry basket. They were her comfort while he was deployed, flying reconnaissance missions over North Vietnam in 1967. At the age of 7 she vividly remembers television news coverage consisted mostly of reporting the body counts for the day. In seven months he completed one hundred missions over Hanoi, the most highly defended area of the country; and he made it out in one piece! She watched him board his plane for this dangerous mission while consuming a 3 Musketeer Bar, which she confesses, she’s never been able to eat one since. The day he came home, she met him walking through the door with foamy pink rollers still in her hair. Wanting to look remarkable for her dad, she didn’t have time to take them out before he arrived!
When asked what it was like watching her dad work for the USAF, Teresa McCarty said he showed nothing but sheer joy at getting paid to do what he loved. Even in the clutches of his dangerous mission, he was happy flying planes. Teresa believes her experience growing up in the military was a great one. Although admittedly, she wonders what it would be like to have long-term friends from her youth and staying in one place like most people. She does think now, as a wife and mother of three teenagers and a college student, learning to adjust to new situations quickly as she did being military family, is something all American teenagers should know how to do well.
Teresa recently purchased a pair of boots from Boot Campaign in honor of her dad Colonel Dewey K. Hemphill, who passed away a year ago this month. We noticed she posted her status as “Got my boots, and if my dad were alive today, he’d be sporting a pair of boots too”. If Lil Boots had been around in 1967 you know little Teresa would have slept in them!
Seven year old Kaitlyn Roach put her mom’s new BOOTS ON! in her cheer uniform to show some support for several family members. Her dad is a Marine and her cousin is going through Navy SEAL qualifications. She told us a lot of her parent’s friends are in the military. When asked what the best thing about living in America was, she said “that you get to be free”.
Likewise Baylor Howerton, an 8 year old whose daddy is currently deployed had some interesting observations about seeing her dad in combat boots. She mostly understands his work consists of defending the great nation she lives in, but she does get emotional about wishing he were at home to do things with the family. In fact during a conversation about wearing Lil Boots, she asked “how many more weeks ‘til we can go somewhere with daddy?” Her little brother Cooper told his mom that wearing boots reminded him that his daddy was keeping him safe.
4 year old Grady Smith got his BOOTS ON and donned a pair of Lil Boots. He told his mom wearing them “makes me feel like a FROGMAN!” That’s the term used for a Navy SEAL, which is what Grady wants to be when he grows up, at least for now anyway! He said wearing the boots also “makes me remember our special Army Mans.”
Damien Noth told his mom Michelle, that the reason his daddy wears boots is because “he goes to Gastanistan and stays there for a little while then comes back“. Michelle asked him what it was like puttin his BOOTS ON and he responded “Good, because I like them, but they are a little big but I’m almost 5 so I’m almost big“.
Children always have an uncut, interesting perspective on life in general. Who could imagine one of the most vivid memories for a 7 year old girl in the 60’s would be watching body counts on the evening news hoping her dad wasn’t in the count, or wearing Lil Boots would make a 4 year old feel like a FROGMAN, or that turning 5 will make your foot grow big enough to fit in your dad’s shoes? It is especially possible though, all of us at some point as kids dreamt of being defenders of freedom, maybe even played with our neighborhood besties protecting the street from invaders driving over 25 mph.
As we celebrate the launch of Lil’ Boots, we salute kids everywhere dreaming of becoming defenders of our freedom as “army mans” , “frogmans”, “flyer dudes” and “coasties”!