From Kurt S. Boehm, 2/75 Ranger and Operation Just Cause Veteran
LETTER TO Stars & Stripes
Title: The Once Coveted Black Beret
Having spent 8 years in the 75th Ranger Regiment, as well as parachuting with the 2d Ranger Bn into Panama during 'Operation Just Cause', I take it as a 'slap on the faces' of all past, present and future Army Rangers that their coveted black beret will be issued like 'candy' to every soldier in the Army. Anyone who supports this decision certainly did not serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment, and it does not take a Ranger to realize this decision defies all logic; many soldiers who are not Rangers also agree. I certainly am not against our soldiers wearing a beret....it does display a more professional appearance. However, where is the sense in allowing all soldiers to wear a black beret, when there are other colors besides black, green, and maroon to choose from? I am quite sure that those who support this decision are excited about putting on their black beret next year...after all, everyone will look "high speed" and it will help increase their morale. Unfortunately, the Army is very concerned nowadays with making everyone feel good, this time at the expense of our Rangers...so, while morale of army soldiers is supposedly boosted, the soldiers on the "cutting edge," that have led and will 'lead the way' for our nation into all future conflicts, are slighted! If we really think that this will boost morale, then why not also replace our Class A uniform with the Marine Corps dress uniform since it looks so much better! I'll tell you why...because the Marines earned their uniform just as much as the Rangers earned their beret! There are other, better ways to improve morale that have nothing to do with what we wear. Supposedly the Special Ops community supports this decision, but I can guarantee you that the Ranger community is fit to be tied as evidenced by the many letters on the Ranger Website Jump Log for October. This decision does not do honor to Rangers as some would have us believe, it only cheapens the great history of the coveted black beret....a beret which requires it's wearer to EARN it through constant participation in dangerous, realistic training, and sometimes combat. It is not earned by simply graduating basic training or AIT.
Our brothers who died wearing the black beret, from Vietnam to Grenada, Panama and Somalia would not believe this state of affairs if they were alive today. Those of you who don't understand my viewpoint probably never wore the black beret prior to 14 June 2001, the day that the number of those wearing black berets goes from some 2,000 Rangers to over 500,000 soldiers.... from elite to common! Shame on the Army leaders that are preparing to tarnish the symbol
of the Rangers. Rangers Lead The Way!
Ranger Kurt S. Boehm