The History of the Black Beret
By Ranger Robert Black, 8th Airborne Ranger Company, Korean War

The Black Beret wearing U.S. Army Rangers are a uniquely American fighting force whose roots go deep into the 1600's. They have a different mission then the Green Berets or Special Forces who were designed to train foreign units. The Rangers are the rapid reaction strike force of the United States Army.

All volunteers and few in number, the Rangers have since the 1600's led the way in battle. Nathan Hale was a Ranger as was the Swamp Fox Frances Marion, George Rogers Clark and John Mosby. Abraham Lincoln gave up command of a company to serve briefly as a private in a Ranger force. In World War II, Rangers were in the forefront of the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Anzio. On D-Day 6 June 1944, it was the Rangers who climbed the cliffs and who were in the forefront of the landings at Omaha Beach. The first 30 minutes of the film "Saving Private Ryan" was an accurate portrayal of American Rangers in action. The Rangers fought in the snows and high mountains of of Korea, in the Mekong Delta and the highlands of Vietnam. They were the lead units in the conflicts in Grenada and Panama. They fought deep in enemy territory in Desert Storm and in Somalia, it was Rangers who died saving the pilot of a downed helicopter. The photos of Ranger bodies being dragged through the streets by the mob is the picture of ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the United States.

During the Korean War, The men of Ranger units began to wear the Black Beret. In time it became a U.S. Army approved part of the uniform of the American Ranger. Now the U.S, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki has announced that the Ranger Black Beret will become the standard issue for all soldiers throughout the Army. Ranger veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and recent conflicts are angered by this incomprehensible action. The men who are serving as Rangers have been ordered by Shinseki not to speak of this to the press. Does General Shinseki think that by giving all soldiers the Ranger Beret he will make all soldiers Rangers. Could not the money be better spent on improved training, equipment for battle, or better housing and food for out soldiers. We have men and women in the armed services on food stamps and the Chief of Staff of the Army plans to throw away money on hats.

The Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces, The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army and the Congress need to exercise their control and put a stop to this waste of taxpayer money. They and General Shinseki need to recognize that in the Rangers they have a proud, small group of volunteers whose history and tradition extends well over 300 years. The Black Beret being unique to the Rangers is a small but important recognition of the blood we have shed for America.