From Derrick LaVake, Veteran of C Co, 1/75 Ranger

October 18, 2000

Dear General:

I just read an article in which you announced your plans to issue the Ranger's black beret to the entire army. I am shocked and appalled! You stated the reason behind your decision came after seeing a change of command for USSOCOM, and how well all the SF troops looked in their berets. If that's the case, to look good, then issue the regular army blue berets. Not only will they have there "coveted" berets, but they will also match the UN colors for which most regular army units will probably work for in the near future.

I am a former a-team leader with the 1st Ranger Battalion. I don't know if it is even possible to describe the feelings I had when I finally EARNED my black beret. That beret is a symbol to the world. Anytime a person sees it they know that the soldier wearing it is someone special. Someone that has gone above and beyond what the regular army dictates. Someone that has volunteered to be one of the best, knowing that along the way if he fails, he is out of the program.

Don't make a mockery of my fallen comrades sir. Those who have given the ultimate for their country, knowing that they were special, that they were the best. The fact that they were willing and waiting to go to war to prove that they were the best. Please, don't belittle them or their extraordinary accomplishments by making our symbol of excellence a symbol of mediocrity. As it states in the Ranger Creed, " country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier...One hundred percent and then some." If the regular army wants to wear the black beret, let them join the Rangers.

I would hope that you would reconsider your decision to allow the regular army to wear the beret of the United State's oldest special operations unit. For that matter, I don't believe that is fair to issue the regular army a red or green beret either. If you must have them in a beret choose a new color not ours!

If I can answer any other questions for you, please do not delay in writing back to me.

Rangers Lead The Way!

Ranger Derrick LeVake, Veteran
C 1/75 Ranger