September 16, 2015

Boomer Anthems: The Ballad of the Green Berets

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men we'll test today
But only three win the Green Beret

The song was the No. 1 hit in the U.S. for the five weeks encompassing March 1966 and the No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100's end of the year chart for 1966, despite the competing "California Dreamin'", sharply dividing the popular music market, and the No. 21 song of the 1960s, even though the Vietnam War later became unpopular. The rivalry between "Green Berets" and "California Dreamin'" was so fierce that the two records tied for the No. 1 record of 1966, according to Cashbox. "Green Berets" has sold over nine million singles and albums and was the top single of a year in which the British Invasion, led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, continued to dominate the U.S. charts. For comparison, according to Billboard, The Beatles' top hit in 1966 was "We Can Work It Out" (No. 16), while the Stones' top hit in 1966 was "Paint It, Black" (No. 21).... The lyrics were written in honor of Green Beret James Gabriel, Jr., the first native Hawaiian who died in Vietnam, who was executed by the Viet Cong while on a training mission on April 8, 1962. One verse was written in honor of Gabriel, but it never made it into the final version." -- La Wik


Posted by gerardvanderleun at September 16, 2015 10:14 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

My dad was a Marine in WWII, and I've loved this song ever since I first heard it as a kid in 1966.

But the audio in the version posted here is AWFUL. Here's a much better one:

And Arthurstone: go soak your head, you little twit.

Posted by: FFCat at September 16, 2015 10:20 AM

WE generally expunge the stonedroppings when we see them.

Posted by: vanderleun at September 16, 2015 10:54 AM

"WE generally expunge the stonedroppings when we see them."

He is a persistent little nagging itch, ain't he? Too bad there isn't a spray you can use to be finally rid of the little troll as he seems immune to the continual rhetorical shaming he gets when he does stop by.

www . flamewarriorsguide . com/warriorshtm/lamer.htm

Posted by: cond0011 at September 16, 2015 11:05 AM

When I entered the Army, deep in the last millennium, Vietnam was barely over. The Army still had World War 2 vets on active duty, and more than a few.

The Special Forces NCOs I came to know well were all Vietnam veterans (MSG Norton: "The happiest six years of my life were in Vietnam") and without exception, they held Sadler in contempt. But it wasn't really because of the song. They told me he was a phony who shirked hard duty.

I do not know one way or the other. But that's what they said.

They weren't crazy about the song, either, mainly because SF types do not want publicity, good, bad, or indifferent.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at September 16, 2015 2:27 PM

They didn't seem to be carrying very much ammunition.

Posted by: Snakepit Kansas at September 17, 2015 4:27 AM

I went into SF shortly after the Song and the Movie became famous. The Flash {Red} worn by Sadler and some of the others was the 7th Special Forces Group Flash. The 5th Special Forces Group was the Group that was in Vietnam, the Flash worn by John Wayne.

The stories I heard about Sadler was that he really liked the "sauce", but I never met him. There was some resentment after the song became popular, the Pentagon would've loved to ride that for all it was worth. Sending him {Sadler} all over the place for the publicity as the anti war movement was growing.

Posted by: Geo at September 17, 2015 9:59 AM