U.S. Airman Got the Boot for Pointing Out that his Boots Were Made in China

Thursday, July 04, 2013
Master Sgt. Steve Adachi

Master Sergeant Steven Adachi became the center of a military controversy and a congressional investigation because he refused to put his boots on.


Prior to his deployment to Afghanistan, Adachi—an Air Force reservist based in Hawaii—was given a pair of sage green boots by his unit, which, he discovered, were made in China. He complained, got another pair made in China, complained some more, and asked for boots made in the U.S.


He says he was told that it was impossible to get U.S.-made boots.


Eventually, the Air Force reprimanded Adachi, and he now faces administrative demotion or termination of his position in the military.


Congressional investigators are probing the matter with the Air Force, as is the inspector general for the military. A bipartisan inquiry is seeking to determine if Adachi, who has a 32-year career (pdf) in the armed forces, was retaliated against for being a whistleblower.


Although Adachi has no doubt that he has been the target of whistleblower retaliation, three letters of reprimand that he received only cited a four-year-old civilian harassment misdemeanor that he brought to his superiors’ attention during the course of this case.


The Air Force later admitted that its acquisition of the boots Adachi was given violated the 1933 Buy American Act (pdf) because the boots were only allowed for use in the U.S. and not overseas.


Adachi said that his reason for insisting on the U.S.-made boots, and standing by the 1933 law, is a good one. “How many American workers are unemployed because military clothing is being produced in foreign countries?" he wrote in a letter to the Air Force Times. “I did not feel comfortable ‘going to war' wearing boots made in China. This is about patriotism. This is about following the [law] set forth over 60 years ago. This is about American soldiers wearing our country's uniform made by Americans.”


The Defense Logistics Agency, which provides all supplies to U.S. troops, claims that the boots it issues to the military are all American-made. However, Adachi’s unit had purchased Chinese-made boots from a South Carolina supplier, U.S. Patriot, which boasts that its imported footwear is lighter and less expensive than the U.S. product.


Learning of the Adachi controversy, the company offered to exchange the sergeant’s Chinese boots for an American pair. “Once I receive these boots, I believe this to be a victory," Adachi said in an email to the Times.


Meanwhile, it was reported that Adachi’s Air Force unit pulled its entire inventory of the Chinese-made boots and sent them back to the vendor.

-Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

U.S. Airman Denied American-Made Boots (by Andrew Wyner, Project On Government Oversight)

Master Sgt. Says No to Chinese-Made Boots (by Jeff Scholgol, Air Force Times)

Steven M. Adachi, Curriculum Vitae (American Society of Safety Engineers) (pdf)

Army Gives Up on $5 Billion Camouflage Uniforms (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)    

Air Force Gives in to Whistleblower Mechanic who Protested Shoddy Upkeep of Spy Planes (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Army Redesigns Camouflage Uniforms for Afghanistan Terrain (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Construction Industry Opposes Obama “Buy American” Stimulus Plan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

See all 19 comments


John 6 years ago
I was drafted 60 years ago to keep the Communist Chinese out of South Korea; now they own us. What a hypocritical, trouble-making whore of a country we have become.
Keith 8 years ago
I was at VA hospital about 2 years ago & a group of Vets had a Vendors booth up selling Military pins, bumper stickers & hats. I bought a USMC hat. On my way home I decide to look & see where it was made "Vietnam" Also if you see Military guys at Rest areas taking donations & selling hats, those Hats are made in China. I called the VA head quarters in St. Louis MO. & their excuse was cost. I personal feel that's a cop out. Someone or somebodies a lining their pockets I believe.
Rocky 8 years ago
I remember when military boots were made by prison labor, this country has sunk to a new low when the labor from the Chinese is prefered over the labor of Anerican prisoners....
Roberta 8 years ago
God bless you. It's time for all Americans to speak out on behalf of this Patriot...we did it to stop our troops from having to fight alongside of al Quaeda in Syria..time to do it again. Power to our troops and power to the American people.
Libris Fidelis (my real VA pension name) 8 years ago
This is why after three years active duty as a 1st Cavalry Division recon scout an six subsequent years active Army Reserve I didn't re-enlist in the reserves... they wanted us to be strike-breakers in the U.S. Post Office strike over mistreatment... it was not even a strike over pay !!!! Luckily my enlistment had been coming up just as the postal strikers were about to be replaced by Army Reserve and I just wrote a letter that I am not going to re-enlist over this issue!
phineas t. bluster 8 years ago
The government of Communist China owns many large properties and factories here in the US - including defense industry factories, as do the Arabs and many other wealthy foreign investors. And they have hired K Street lobbyists to represent them in the halls of Congress - and their money talks very loudly. Mitch McConnell tried to kill GM because Toyota has a huge factory in Kentucky and they own McConnell.
Kevin 8 years ago
Nikki check out Annin Flag... they make flags right here in the USA!
Dave Yuhas 8 years ago
There goes the pension.
Nikki 8 years ago
Good for him for standing up! Have you guys tried to find an American flag made in the USA lately? When I went to replace my worn out one, most of the ones I found were made in China too. Sorry, but I want my country's flag made in my country!!
EdS 8 years ago
Beside what the airman said, what if we go to war with China. I would think that they would stop shipping boots to us. Shouldn't we have the capacity to at least supply our military from our country?

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