As U.S. Special Forces recently turned 67 years old, it is interesting to take a look back at this public service announcement from the 1960s about the legendary Green Berets. Check out the video to learn more, but you may also enjoy this interview I did with Sergeant Major (Ret.) William Bowles. Sergeant Bowles passed away in 2012, a few months after our interview.

JM: What path did you take from being a Signals Sergeant to getting into Special Forces? Special Forces was a new and untested unit at that time so what motivated you to sign up?

WB: I was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division as a platoon sergeant. We had no mission. Korea was over. I grew tired of shepherding draftee recruits to the motor pool each weekend. Through a friend, I learned of the 77th SFG on Smoke Bomb Hill, I investigated the unit and found it to be more my type of unit. So I transferred over to SF.

JM: Back in those days, Special Forces was a very small community, unlike today where you don’t have a clue who is in another Special Forces Company or Battalion, never mind in a different Group. What was it like to be one of the “originals”?

WB: While the unit was small, the originals were in the old 77th and the newly activated 10th SFG located in Bad Tolz, Germany.

It was a pleasure to serve with trained professionals who were all of the approximate same rank or a little higher. No 2nd lieutenants, no one below the rank of sergeant. We trained each other in classes and in the field on the several MOS specialties of the A Team. It all paid off big time in the years ahead. Most of those early personnel went on to become the future team leaders and team sergeants that fought in Vietnam.

JM: What were the conditions like over on Smoke Bomb Hill at Fort Bragg back in those days? What kind of facilities and equipment did you have at your disposal? Also, I regret to inform you that Hay Street has been somewhat cleaned up since the 1960s…

WB: We lived in wooden barracks built in the first days of WWII and earlier. Two-story barracks, no air conditioning, coal heated and miserable. We taught each other the different MOS specialties. We had very limited equipment, and very little external support. We were heavily involved in learning and mastering the tactics and principles of guerrilla warfare.