Green Beret 50th Anniversary

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the green beret as the official headgear of US Army Special Forces.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the green beret as the official headgear of US Army Special Forces.

USASOC News Service (“Commemorating more than a half century of dedicated service“):

The U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) will hold its commemorative President John F. Kennedy Wreath Laying Ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 17, at 10:10 a.m. at the JFK grave site at Arlington National Cemetery,  Arlington, Va.

The event will pay tribute to JFK’s vision of building a dedicated counter insurgency force, a vision that helped build the Green Berets into the elite force they have become over the last five decades.

In a message to Lt. Gen. William P. Yarborough in October 1961, JFK commended the men of the Special Warfare Center on their efforts to prepare a force of unconventional warriors to combat growing threats to our nation. “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,” Kennedy wrote.  “I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead.”

“He so brilliantly understood warfare that he recognized the fighting in Southeast Asia required a counter-insurgency force,” said Brig. Gen. Edward Reeder, Jr., commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne).

To honor that foresight and the support Kennedy gave to the Green Berets, Reeder will lead a contingent of Green Berets from the 1960s to the present in the ceremony at Arlington.  A wreath in the shape of a Green Beret will be placed on Kennedy’s tomb.

The ceremony is a renewal of a tradition carried out for two decades following the assassination of President Kennedy until being discontinued in the 1980s due to operational demands.

Reeder said he felt it is important to reinstitute the tradition this year as the Green Beret reaches its 50th anniversary. “We are laying the wreath to commemorate the awarding of the Green Beret and honoring what JFK did for this community,” Reeder said.

The official Twitter account of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff just posted, “#USArmy Special Forces laid a wreath at JFK grave @ArlingtonNatl for 50th anniv. of his decision to make green beret official headgear.”

Those of you who think the Army doesn’t pay enough attention to its hats should consider yourselves chastised.

In honor of the occasion, Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler:

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Delmar says:

    “These are men, America’s best” (Sgt. Sadler)
    Long live the Green Berets. Long live the ’60’s!
    Vietnam? The US would have won that war if it weren’t for Congressional restraints on the military.

  2. Richard Gardner says:

    Unfortunately, this isn’t a negative, so don’t expect media coverage.

  3. Robert Henderson says:

    I am proud to have served as a Green Beret from 1983-1988. Ft Bragg, NC. That beret was proud to be worn and soldiers of all ranks respected anyone who wore it. Hooray !