As a surface officer joining an aviation staff, you must first make yourself stop referring to yourself as a line officer, and to the others as aviators. They, too, are line. They, too, are officers. Social terminology is “shoe”—you are “black-shoe,” they are “brown-shoe.” [Although not yet fully established in naval tradition, apparently white-shoe is being reserved for those specializing in Washington duty.] At any rate, there will be a certain amount of good-natured “shoe” bantering as they make you feel at home. You never will, of course, but just grit your teeth and pretend the stinking JP-5 fumes smell like good old stack gas.
A Black Shoe in a Brown Shoe World
By Capt. Andrew G. Nelson, USN