Friday, June 7, 2013


The rivalry between the Army’s elite Green Berets and the Navy’s select few Seals is undoubtedly as old as the existence of Special Forces. Both groups are carefully chosen, highly trained, and extremely brave. Perhaps the difference boils down to something as simple as rough march versus grueling swim. I am convinced that if you would ask 100 members of each group what the differences are their answers would be similar regardless of to which group they belonged.

Recent events and news coverage has undoubtedly favored the Seals with the killing of Bin Laden and the making of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” However, historically we heard more about the Green Berets. In 1966, Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, who was recovering from a leg wound suffered in Vietnam, and Robin Moore wrote “The Ballad of The Green Berets.” Sadler recorded the song and it was a long running hit that year. In the lyrics they mentioned that Green Berets were comprised of the top three percent of those who applied for the program, a fact that holds true today.

In 1968 John Wayne starred in “The Green Berets,” which was popular among Wayne fans and came at a time when the public secretly wanted to know more about the highly unpopular Vietnam War, or conflict as many preferred to minimize its importance. Much later, in 1990, Charlie Sheen made “Navy Seals,” which for me seemed some mixture of comedy and drama. I am a John Wayne fan and not at all impressed by Charlie Sheen and his public idiocy. In this competition I vote Green Berets ten, Seals zero.

The bottom line is, there is no right answer. Love the Seals or love the Green Berets, it does not matter. They are all fearless American heroes who are willing to do whatever it takes and risk everything to defend our nation. Irrespective of my John Wayne preference, I am in the bag for the Green Berets, of whom my son is one, but I am proud of them all.

A few years ago I visited one of the places where the Army memorializes Green Beret casualties. It was an expansive, carefully tended grassy area. Each casualty was honored with a granite marker and a magnolia tree. It was a heartbreaking and prideful experience. It is hard for me, as the father of a soldier, to see or remember these things without feeling a mixture of pride and sadness. What a nation, what a people we are.

“O’er the ramparts we watch,” I am proud to be an American!

Your comments and questions are always welcome.

Elizabeth’s Secrets
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