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History of the Green Beret
History of the Green Beret

During World War II, US Army Special Forces personnel wore a variety of headgear during their operations as members of special operations units. Those who served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Europe often adopted whatever headgear their French or Belgian Resistance compatriots wore. This was often a beret, since many of the OSS teams served in France. The beret, worn in a variety of styles and colors, showed even up on OSS personnel in the Far East. Many of the first members of the US Army 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), formed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in June 1952, were veterans of the OSS. Berets of various types and colors began being worn unofficially as early as 1954 on the unit's field exercises in Germany and at Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall, North Carolina. The color green was favored because it was reminiscent of the World War II British Commando-type beret that had been adopted by the Commandos on 24 October 1942. After testing in 1955, the 77th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg specified, still unofficially, that its soldiers wear a beret of Canadian Army design in rifle green. Special Forces personnel in Europe in the 10th Special Forces Group (A) simultaneously adopted a green beret, even wearing it publicly with the Army class A uniform, despite the lack of official approval. Special Forces troopers first wore the green beret publicly at Fort Bragg during a retirement parade in 1955. In 1957, however, the Fort Bragg post commander banned the wearing of the beret. This ban was reversed on 25 September 1961 by DA Message 578636, which authorized the green beret as the official Army headgear to be worn by Special Forces. The first official wearing of the newly authorized green beret was at a Special Forces demonstration staged for President John F. Kennedy at Fort Bragg on 12 October 1961. President Kennedy was instrumental in the approval by DA of the green beret for US Special Forces. Currently, all Special Forces-qualified soldiers wear the green beret with the authorized flash of their Special Forces Group.

2003, U.S. Army. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.

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