09 March 2010

The Beret





The only piece of issue clothing I wear from my army days is a field jacket. But I wouldn't hesitate to wear anything else that was issued - - If I could find it and if it would fit. There is one item I have an issue with. The beret.

Highly coveted in the army before Joe Shit the Rag Man horned in on the action. Back in my day, only Green (Special Forces), Black (Ranger) and Maroon (Airborne) were allowed. I still have my grandfather's beret as well as a beret that was a swap from Canadian jump school. I'm tempted but they're a little out there. But I like this one...


"At least we're winning on the Fox evening news..."

11 comments:

M.Lane said...

I love berets in theory but not in execution. On my skull anyhow. And, I worry that if I would wear one in the US some former paratrooper would beat me. Or at least encourage me to drink too much Bordeaux and then take it away from me more peaceably...

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

Jeremiah (Murphy, btw.) said...

Notice, too, that all (previously) bereted units in the US Army were airborne. Imagine the blow it was to the Rangers when our cherished black beret was passed out to every leg puke in the Army. We don't have the numbers of the regular Airborne units nor the PR department of SF... plus, black was the coolest color.... so we lost. It was so damn rare to see anyone in a beret years ago and I still wince every time I see a black beret in real life now. Damn shame, really, although the tan beret is pretty sharp.

tintin said...

Jeremiah- The black beret with the Ranger flash was a thing of beauty. And it matched your boots.

Quick question- I saw the the Abu Ghraib prison guard, Lynndie England on the news and she was wearing a XVIII Abn corps patch and maroon beret but she was a leg. Does that mean non-airborne or non SF or Ranger qualified personel are authorized to wear their unit's headgear because their assigned to the unit?

skorpeo said...

In answer to your question above, only airborne qualified may wear the maroon beret. It follows that to be in an airborne unit, you must be airborne qualified, but you can be airborne qualified and be in a non-airborne unit (and you would most likely wear the black beret for uniformity).

As a wearer of the black beret myself, I have no qualms about giving them back to the specialized components, I hate the damned things. They may look snappy, but they are a pain to shape and it usually takes two hands to put on. The patrol cap is a mere smack on the knee and on your head.

tintin said...

Skorp- Yeah, berets are a pain. They don't keep the sun outta your eyes nor the rain off your face. I tore the lining outta mine and wore it in the shower a few days to get the fold right. And I never did get the one I really wanted - the green one. But maroon berets are worn by airborne troops all over the world and that always made it special. Not to mention that girl that Prince knew who wore a rasberry beret...

The film of England had her in Class A's and she was wearing a maroon beret but she was not wearing jump wings. I've always wondered what that was about.

Anonymous said...

Sunshine the beret, like the monocle, walking stick and cape, have been, for better or worse, consigned to theatrical costume.

Titus said...

I think the whole modern overhaul of army uniforms has been a catastrophe. Who decided that rumpled fatigues were a good daily wear for units not on combat duty? You see a soldier on the street now and it looks like he's wearing pajamas, shirt tail out and everything. That's a shame.

Jeremiah said...

Tintin,

1) There's Ranger qualified (tab) and the Ranger unit (Regiment now, 2 Batts when I was there. The tab does not earn one the right to wear the black (now tan) beret. One has to be with the Regiment (and, I think the Ranger Training Brigade that runs the Ranger School (to earn the tab.) There are a lot more qualified Rangers than unit Rangers, but most unit Rangers are or become qualified by going to the school and earning the tab. The difference really, is this: Ranger school is an 8 week course, one of the most difficult in the US military. It's purpose is to teach leadership in such ultra-light infantry tactics such as Long range recon patrolling, and small unit direct action such as raids and ambushes. One didn't have to be airborne qualified to go to Ranger school, although those folks could not participate in the jumps. One must be airborne qualified in the Regiment, but back in the day it was possible, for officers mostly, to get assigned to the Batts before jump school but they'd then immediately be sent to jump school. There could be a few days where they could wear the black(tan) beret before they earned their wings. Don't know if this is the case anymore. Confused? I know. Here's the real rub: The tab is a school, the unit is a way of life. I spent my entire hitch with the 2d Batt.

Oh, in addition to the traditional Ranger light infantry techniques the Regiment is a special operations unit. Watch Blackhawk Down. TMI for sure, but still. When I got out of jump school I was so used to saying "Yes, Sgt. Airborne!" Went to the Ranger Battalion and it was a hard habit to break (I'm sure you remember.) A young sgt told me something and I responded, 'Yes, Sgt. Airborne!' He said, "Son, we're Rangers. Everyone else is airborne."

Sean said...

Let's be honest: this is how you rock a beret

http://www.albertocontadornotebook.info/i/asPV09st3.jpg

(though technically that is a txapela, the Basque beret)

Anonymous said...

ANY man looks good in a beret. Black only. End of story.

-DB

Sam said...

every time i check out this blog i love it more.. thank you for posting one of the sickest guitar players, Richard Thompson!!