U.S. Army Special
The Story Behind the
The green beret was originally designated
in 1953 by Special Forces Maj. Herbert Brucker, a veteran
of the OSS. Later that year, 1st Lieutenant Roger Pezelle
adopted it as the unofficial headgear for his A-team,
Operational Detachment FA-32. They wore it whenever
they went to the field for prolonged exercises. Soon
it spread throughout all of Special Forces, although
the Army refused to authorize its official use.
Finally, in 1961, President Kennedy planned
to visit Fort Bragg.
He sent word to the Special Warfare Center commander,
Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, for all Special
Forces soldiers to wear their berets for the event.
President Kennedy felt that since they had a special
mission, Special Forces should have something to set
them apart from the rest. Even before the presidential
request, however, the Department
of Army had acquiesced and teletyped a message to
the Center authorizing the beret as a part of the Special
When President Kennedy came to Fort Bragg
October 12, 1961, Gen. Yarborough wore his green beret
to greet the commander-in-chief. The president remarked,
"Those are nice. How do you like the green beret?"
General Yarborough replied: "They're fine, sir.
We've wanted them a long time."
A message from President Kennedy to General
Yarborough later that day stated, "My congratulations
to you personally for your part in the presentation
today ... The challenge of this old but new form of
operations is a real one and I know that you and the
members of your command will carry on for us and the
free world in a manner which is both worthy and inspiring.
I am sure that the green beret will be a mark of distinction
in the trying times ahead."
In an April 11, 1962, White House memorandum
for the United States
Army, President Kennedy showed his continued support
for the Special Forces, calling the green beret
"a symbol of excellence, a badge
of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom."
To honor his memory, Special Forces soldiers
pay their respects to late President Kennedy by laying
a wreath and green beret on his tomb every November
twenty-second, the date of his assassination.