Armed Forces Day: Enlisted Sneakerheads Spotlight

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Whether you’re pro-war or anti-war, you should always support out troops. From the lowest ranking officer in every branch to the decision makers at the top, we must never forget that Americans enlisted in the Armed Forces give up their freedoms to defend ours.

So to thank the currently-enlisted personnel and veterans of every branch of the Armed Forces, we selected five sneakerheads to highlight and feature. We asked them what it was like to be a sneaker collector in the military, some of their favorite and least favorite things about collecting while serving and of course, their top five favorites. Today, while you’re out at the malls or your favorite shop grabbing a new pair, take the time to think about those who provide you the freedom to do so.

Name: Gerald Sandles
Branch: Navy
Rank: ABE3
Hometown: Houston
Currently stationed in: Bremerton, WA
Years in the service: 1 yr, 9 months

How long have you been collecting sneakers and how many do you have? I’ve always been a big fan of shoes but I just started collecting shoes maybe five or six years ago, and as of now I have about 60-70 pairs of sneakers.

Top five sneakers of all-time: Retro 11 Jordans (“Space Jams” and the black and red ones), all white or all?black Air Force Ones, 95 Air Max, all white Adidas (shelltoes), and?Reebok Classics.

What sneaker started you collecting shoes? The shoes that got me started were Air Force Ones. Now I’m collecting Jordans as well, but I have a taste and love for shoes all together. If I feel the shoe looks good and is something I can work with, I’ll buy them, no matter what.

What is the next shoe you plan to grab? My next pair of shoes that?I must grab will be the retro 9 Jordans white/UNC set to come out May 29. There’s also another shoe I plan on getting here in the near future called PF Flyers–a little outside the?normal but they look fly on my feet.

What is your favorite sneaker in your closet? My most favorite pair of sneakers?I own right now would have to be the retro 3 Jordans blk/cement.

If you had to pick one shoe to represent your military branch, what would it be and why? I would have to go with the French Blue?retro 13?Jordans. The reason being, is everytime I look at our new uniform we just changed to I think of these shoes. Our new NWU’s the Navy just got are camouflage blue and gray, pretty much like the French blue retro 13, just without the white.

What is the worst part of trying to collect shoes and serve at the same time? The thing I can’t stand about collecting shoes and serving in the military is that shoes come out and you’re off on a?deployment you tend to miss out on alot of hot and exclusive pair of?shoes. I mean if you find out in time you can have somebody get you a pair but that’s if you have communication and find out in time. Me personally, I look up what’s coming out ahead of time and then put reminders in my wife’s phone, but that only works on my Jordans. So all the other types of shoes I don’t know they out or coming out until I see them in the store or on somebody’s feet.

Seeing that you serve in the Navy where you’re always around water (for the most part), do you tend to buy a lot of patent leather or shoes or do you try to stay away from shoes that get damaged easily by water? If i like the shoes, I’m getting the shoes, no matter what material the shoes are. Being around water the majority of the time doesn’t play a role in my shoe selection. Not to mention I’m in Washington, where it rains basically every other day.

Do/did you ever try to work sneakers into your military-assigned attire? Nah, my shoes aren’t work related. Even if?I could, I probably wouldn’t. You can wear sneakers while in uniform, but you have to have a special chit that’s saying it’s okay for you to be wearing the shoes?for whatever the reason. Even then, they’re supposed to be all white or all black.

Do you own a lot of navy/white sneakers since you’re in the Navy?
If so, what’s your favorite navy sneaker? I only own one pair of white/navy sneakers–The Jordan Olympia editions.

What’s the best part of being in the Armed Forces? The best part about the Armed Forces is you get to travel and be exposed to different parts of life. Meeting lots of new people–people of all origins–and seeing how others live, especially outside the U.S. Seeing how people live in other countries makes you realize the stuff that you complain about here in the U.S. isn’t even worth complaining about, because we could be doing so much worse. We live like kings compared to some of the places I’ve been, such as Thailand, Hong Kong, North Korea, etc…

Since you’ve been all around the world, what’s your favorite sneaker store?
A shoe store I really like getting sneakers from would have to be Nike Town. I’ve been to two different locations; one in Hawaii and another in Seattle.

If you could design an Armed Forces sneaker, what shoe would you use and how would you create it (colors, materials)? I would create pair of navy/white camouflage Air Force Ones with nubuck. I’m not sure on the whole layout of the shoe and what colors would go where, but the would be hot.

Any good shoe-related stories? I used to have a female get mad just because I have more shoes than her, and they all stay looking new, so she would always try to step on my feet when she sees me.

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