John McCaslin

On Nov. 21, Vice President Dick Cheney, with about six Secret Service agents in tow, made a personal visit to the Johnston & Murphy retail store at Tysons Corner to figure out why his shoes don't fit anymore.

Cheney has been a longtime Johnston & Murphy customer, but recently found it necessary to make a personal visit "because his shoe size has changed to a size 10EEE," explains Kristen I. Smithson, who handles public affairs for the retailer in Nashville, Tenn.

Are Cheney's feet getting bigger or smaller?

"They are apparently getting wider and flatter, which happens over the years," she tells The Beltway Beat.

"Cheney selected the Lasalle wing tip loafer in brushed mahogany," she adds. "He also bought a pair of shoe trees to keep his 10EEEs in top shape."

Bob Ciuffoletti, the Tysons store manager, says he has measured Cheney's feet in the past.

"He used to shop with us often when he was secretary of defense. It was such a pleasure to see him again and help him select a pair of shoes that fit," Ciuffoletti says.

NOT FOR EVERYBODY

The Air Force is seeking military volunteers to assist wounded troops returning from Iraq when they land on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, The Beltway Beat has learned.

"Several times during the week, aircraft bringing home wounded troops arrive at Andrews AFB," says a memo to personnel from Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gerard V. Gething. "Sometimes, they arrive during late evenings; sometimes, they arrive in the middle of the night.

"Regardless of when they arrive, they always need help carrying the litters (stretchers) from the aircraft to awaiting ambulances or assisting passengers to awaiting buses. . . . Please keep in mind that this detail isn't for everyone."

ONCE CARRIED

Retired Army Maj. F. Andy Messing Jr., a Vietnam combat veteran, won't forget the day in 1967 when he was airlifted to Andrews Air Force Base and carried by litter to a waiting bus.

"The poor guys pulling litters off the plane - and there were about 30 litters at the time - started dropping them and slipping in the rain, a really hard cold rain. It was this time of year," he recalls. "Being bumped around and literally thrown onto a bus ain't no fun when you are in pain as the rain pelts you in the face."

Given the call for military volunteers to assist on the tarmac with U.S. troops wounded in Iraq, Mr. Messing appeals: "If you can't lift a litter, hold an umbrella or tuck a blanket."


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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