The origins of the Green Beret are in Scotland during the Second World War. US Army Rangers and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operatives, who underwent training from the Royal Marines were awarded the Green Beret upon completion of the grueling and revolutionary commando course. The beret was not authorized by the US Army among the Rangers and OSS operatives who earned them. Edson Raff, one of the first Special Forces officers, is credited with the re-birth of the green beret, which was originally unauthorized for wear by the U.S. Army. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy authorized them for use exclusively by the US Special Forces. Preparing for an October 12 visit to the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the President sent word to the Center's commander, Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, for all Special Forces soldiers to wear the beret as part of the event. The President felt that since they had a special mission, Special Forces should have something to set them apart from the rest. In 1962, he called the green beret "a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom." Aside from the well-recognized beret, Special Forces soldiers are also known for their more informal attire than other members of the U.S. military.
"It was President Kennedy who was responsible for the rebuilding of the Special Forces and giving us back our Green Beret," said Forrest Lindley, a writer for the newspaper Stars and Stripes who served with Special Forces in Vietnam. "People were sneaking around wearing it when conventional forces weren't in the area and it was sort a cat and mouse game," he recalled. "When Kennedy authorized the Green Beret as a mark of distinction, everybody had to scramble around to find berets that were really green. We were bringing them down from Canada. Some were handmade, with the dye coming out in the rain."
1st Special Forces Group, Joint Special Operations Task Force, Philippines (JSOTF-P), examines a baby in 2007, during a medical civic action project in the village of Malisbeng, Republic of the Philippines. JSOTF-P is supporting the AFP in their war on terror efforts and humanitarian missions in their county.
This original 1960s Green beret was made in Canada.
Photos courtesy of the Hall Collection.