MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
When Russ Meade was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1994, the former infantryman thought his separation would be only temporary. After obtaining his college degree, he planned on returning to the Marine Corps as an officer and making it a career.
However, while in college Meade and his wife started a family, so the former war fighter, refusing to trek his family from one base to another, put his goal of seeking a commission aside and entered the civilian workforce.
Although the former devil dog is still serving his beloved Corps, he is not doing it with a rifle in hand. Instead, he is doing his duty with socks.
Meade, now the chief military advisor for and co-creator of the business Covert Threads, has accepted the mission of producing, for Marines, a military sock for every clime and place.
“Socks are what we do best, and that’s our mission,” said Meade, a native of Hickory, N.C. “I still feel like I’m serving.”
Meade’s endeavor into the sock business began after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He was determined to serve his country once again and therefore reenlisted in the Marine Corps, this time working in public affairs.
Before deploying with II Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Meade was given eight pairs of socks from his good friend Peter Menzies, who was already in the sock business.
Meade said although the socks felt great, the extreme heat and other elements resulted in foot problems such as blisters and hot spots. In response, Meade e-mailed Menzies, informing him about the problems, and asked if it was possible for Menzies to develop a better sock for a specific climate. Within a month, Menzies had shipped his friend a new sock called the "Sand" boot sock.
The sock was such a success that Meade asked Menzies to send more of them so he could hand them out to other Marines. The result was Marines ordered more of the socks, directly from Menzies, and upon returning from Iraq, Menzies and Meade created the company Covert Threads.
The Sand Military Boot Sock is a sock specifically created for hot to moderate climates, incorporating an acrylic and wool blend that wicks moisture away, keeping feet dry and cool, said Menzies. A silver lining also helps battle bacteria, while eliminating foot odor, and aiding in the prevention of blisters.
The company has since grown to produce socks specifically meant for physical training, dress, rugged terrain, arctic terrain, and fire protection.
The company has also expanded its consumer base to include Marine Corps exchanges, some Naval and Air Force exchanges, and the civilian hunting industry.
James Nelson, the warehouse manager for West Coast Tactical Gear Distributors, the distributor for the Combat Center’s Marine Corps Exchange, who was working a tent sale at the exchange at the Combat Center’s Camp Wilson Jan. 15, said the distributing company was happy to sell the socks Covert Threads had to offer.
“We were just really impressed with their quality and durability. They’re one of our top selling items,” said Nelson, a former Marine engineer who said he knows first hand just how important a reliable pair of socks is.
While Meade and Menzies admit, like any other business, the goal of Covert Threads is to make a profit in order to support a living, the two men also have a strong and unwavering passion for helping Marines.
“The good thing about it is we’re taking care of Marines,” said Meade, who has provided his product to reconnaissance and infantry Marines, as well as members of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. “It’s almost better than getting a paycheck.”
The first time the two saw their product being offered in an exchange they were pleased to see that their business was going to be financially successful, but they were also humbled knowing Marines had access to good gear said Menzies.
“We’re not just making money,” said Meade. “We’re making a difference.”
Testimonials on the company’s Web site from Marines, mothers of Marines, and outdoorsmen, show Covert Threads is making quite an impact on the lives of service members and civilians alike - something Meade and Menzies feel privileged to be part of.
“We’re just blessed,” Meade said.
Blessed with his family and blessed to be able to continue serving his country by providing his brothers and sisters in arms with something as simple as a pair of comfortable socks.