The U.S. Army Band, commanded by Colonel Andrew J. Esch, recently released a new version of the famous Ballad of the Green Berets. And in the process, they made it all-inclusive to just about everyone and slapped Green Berets in the face.

Green Berets both love and hate the song. It is played at every graduation, promotion ceremony, and change of command.

The song is also played almost daily at 18:00 at Charlie Mikes Pub in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the home of Special Operations and Airborne, as they pay tribute to a fallen brother. On the anniversary of a fallen comrade, the Gold Star family, teammates, loved ones, and friends gather to toast the fallen. They play the Star-Spangled Banner and the Ballad of the Green Berets.

Charlie Mikes Pub conducted a memorial for fallen Brothers, MSG Deleon-Digueroa and MSG Gonzales. (Photo Credit: Charlie Mikes Instagram)

A Slap in the Face of Every Green Beret

Many will love the new version. But it’s a slap in the face to every man or woman that has earned the honor to wear the Green Beret.

Several social groups have shared the song’s new version. And Green Berets all shout the same thing in response to the changes: “DISRESPECTFUL.”

The band’s singer, Master Sergeant Labrecque, sang the song quite beautifully. Yet, the song’s new lyrics caused it to crash and burn.

The first three verses are identical between the two versions. But at that point, the new version adds many other elements. You can read the lyrics of both versions here.

The Ballad’s Creation

Barry Sadler, a Green Beret, wrote the time-honored song specifically for Green Berets.

On January 30, 1966, roughly 55 years ago, Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler debuted the song on the Ed Sullivan Show.

SSG Sadler served with the 7th Special Forces Group as a Special Forces Medic. He co-wrote the Ballad of the Green Berets with Robin Moore. 

Moore wrote the book The Green Berets. The book would later be turned into a film starring John Wayne.

https://i1.wp.com/img.discogs.com/FDdrGWkAR51YXBsSLcEw1_VfrZY=/fit-in/600x595/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1472846-1266535399.jpeg.jpg?resize=600%2C595&ssl=1
The original song’s album cover. (Discogs)

The lyrics were written, in part, in honor of U.S. Army Specialist 5 James Gabriel, Jr., a Special Forces operator and the first native Hawaiian to die in Vietnam. Gabriel was killed by Viet Cong gunfire while on a training mission with the South Vietnamese Army on April 8, 1962. Initially, one verse had mentioned Gabriel by name. Yet, the recorded version did not use the original verse.

Ballad of the Green Berets is a song that all Green Berets kn0w, have memorized, love, and loathe. It is played when we don our Green Berets for the first time. And it fills our hearts with pride. We also play it when we honor a brother’s passing.

In conclusion, Master Sergeant Labrecque sang the song beautifully. But changing a song that was for Green Berets and adding multiple elements was, in my opinion, of poor taste.

To see the U.S. Army version, click here.

To watch the original, click here.

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