From A Fallen Ranger's Mom

General Eric Shinseki Cheif of Staff, Army
200 Army Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20310-0200

October 23, 2000

General Shinseki,

We are writing you about the decision you made and announced last week to make the RANGER BLACK BERET standard army issue as June 14, 2001.

General, we are the family of Ranger James Markwell, medic c/co 1/75 Ranger Battalion. KIA December 20,1989 Panama.

This is an ill informed decision and deals a blow to Rangers past and present. How can you possibly expect to raise the caliber of soldier by lowering the standards and giving away the most important part of the uniform that these special soldiers wear so proudly for our country? Even the newest recruits know that BLACK BERET must be earned. Who would you want watching your back given a choice, someone who earned it or someone to whom it was standard issue?

We know because we have experienced first hand that pride. When you are in the presence of a group of soldiers long before you see the flash, the scroll the tab or any medals, you see the BLACK BERET and know you are in the presence of special men.

When these men go into harms way that beret is safely tucked away until their job is done and the wrong is righted. Then it is taken out and worn proudly.

It is obvious you have never kept company with these men. I find it hard to believe any one who had, could have possibly been convinced to make such a decision

The blow you have dealt the Rangers and the families who go the extra mile to be able to wear the BLACK BERET can only be healed by rethinking your decision.

We will fight this up to the last moment by what ever means we can avail ourselves of. We have learned a lot from our Rangers, the least of which is SURRENDER is not a RANGER word.

General we respectfully ask that you choose another color beret for you standard Army issue. Do not dishonor these men or the families.

Respectfully awaiting and hoping for a change of color,

The Family of Ranger James W. Markwell