Senator, I think the decree by Gen. Shinseki about the whole Army wearing the
black beret is a crock. This comes as a slap in the face of the elite
Rangers when morale is at a low point throughout the military.
I find no fault in trying something to boost the morale of the entire Army
but to take the Black Beret away from the Rangers is not the answer in my
Back in the late '40 and '50 the airborne was the elite force. When you won
your jump wings and were authorized to wear your dress uniform trousers
bloused over shinny jump boots (they were very distinctive from other issue
boots) you were a "leg" and you had arrived. I was not a jumper but I was an
Army brat in '49 and 50 at Fort Bragg and I knew the pride that went with
those who were part of the 82nd and other airborne units. In 1950 I joined
the active Army and always took pride in the parts of the uniform I was
authorized to wear. I later went to flight school and was very proud of the
aviator wings -- later senior and finally master wings I "earned" before I
retired as a Lt. Col. in 1973. I know that I would have become very upset if
someone had come along and said that just because they rode in my airplane
they were now authorized to wear wings that I had worked hard to earn. I
fully appreciate the feeling of the Rangers about their distinctive headgear.
It shows that they have worked hard to win the honor of wearing that black
beret. It only lowers it's meaning to a very common place to make it
standard headgear for the rest of the Army who have done nothing to earn the
I only hope that Gen. Shinseki is big enough to admit that he made a mistake. I know that he anticipated resistance when, following his decree, his staff issued a gag order on all active duty rangers.
I am personal friends with the mother and stepfather of Ranger (deceased)
Jimmy Markwell. I know personally how very hurt they are by this decree.
They see it not only as a slap in the face of all Rangers but very degrading
to their dead son who gave his all in Operation Just Cause. Please, I beg of
you, to stop this farce if you possibly can.
Just as an aside, why didn't Gen. Shinseki pick on the Special Operations
types (Green Berets). Is it because it would distract from part of the
uniform he personally might be authorized to wear? I would support the
proposal of CSM of the Army Jack Tilley regarding an Olive Beret but not for
the Rangers but for the rest of the Army might be OK, but LEAVE THE BLACK
BERET TO THE RANGERS. History shows that the common soldier is not worthy of
this distinctive colored (black) beret. Let history stand and not try to
Thank you for your efforts and your kind ear in this "old soldier's" concern.
DONALD R. JORDAN
Lt. Col, USA-Retired