Original U.S. Vietnam War 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Beret - Pre 1966 Manufacture

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an excellent near mint example of a “Beret, Man’s, Wool” in Rifle Green that belonged to a member of the elite 1st Special Forces Group during the Vietnam War. The date code is DSA 1-8359 which means it dates between 1964 and 1965.

The 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) flash is “Asian Gold” in color. It became the only official Army insignia to continuously commemorate our slain President, John F. Kennedy, when the Army added a black border to the insignia following the Commander in Chief’s assassination in 1963. Due to a close relationship between President Kennedy and the Special Forces (President Kennedy first authorized the green beret), protocol was changed during the president’s funeral to permit a green beret to be placed on the grave site (normally, only done by each parent service). Sgt. Maj. Francis J. Ruddy, an original member of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), placed his beret on the president's grave.

The Special Forces crest insignia was adopted in 1960 and approved as the Special Forces regimental designator in 1984. Its design reflects both the lineage and mission of Special Forces.

In 1890, the crossed arrows were officially prescribed as uniform insignia for the U.S. Army Indian Scouts who served in the American west from 1860 through 1939. In 1942, during World War II, a joint U.S./Canadian special operations unit was established to conduct operations behind enemy lines. Members of this First Special Service Force wore the historic crossed arrows as their branch insignia.

The enamel pin on the flash features the intersecting dagger representing the V-42 dagger issued to each member of the force. The encircling scroll which arches at the base bears the Special Forces motto, "DE OPPRESSO LIBER" which is translated from Latin as "To Free the Oppressed." The reverse is marked as M-22.

All markings are still present on the inside of the beret, a little faded but still easily read:

DSA 1-8359
6 ¾

The condition is excellent and comes more than ready to display!

With the advent of the 1960’s, 1st Special Forces Group’s activities increasingly focused on operations in the Republic of Vietnam. 14th SFOD had conducted the first mission to train Vietnamese Rangers near Nha Trang in the summer and fall of 1957. Commitment of 1st Special Forces teams to Vietnam increased steadily thereafter, with numerous detachments deploying from Okinawa on extended TDY missions to train and lead units of the Vietnamese Special Forces (LLDB), Rangers, and Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG). 1st Group established a forward headquarters in Vietnam, which was withdrawn in November 1962 and replaced by “US Army Special Forces Vietnam (Provisional).” This headquarters element directed SF operations in Vietnam from 1962-1964, although the manpower continued to come from detachments of the 1st Group on Okinawa and the 7th Group at Fort Bragg. In October 1964 USASFV (P) was replaced by 5th Special Forces Group, which deployed from Fort Bragg. Even after the arrival of 5th Group, however, 1st Special Forces continued to dispatch teams to Vietnam, maintaining at least six ODA’s in-country at all times to participate in Special Operation Group (SOG) reconnaissance missions. These missions frequently involved cross-border operations into neighboring Laos. Between 1957 and 1972, 1st Special Forces Group soldiers earned eight Distinguished Service Crosses, 44 Silver Stars, 244 Bronze Stars for Valor, 499 Air Medals, 554 Combat Infantry Badges, and 88 Combat Medical Badges in Vietnam. These honors were earned at a heavy price. Forty soldiers of 1st Special Forces Group were killed in Vietnam, two remain missing in action, and 293 were awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. The first Special Forces soldier to die in Vietnam (Captain Harry G. Cramer, 21 October 1957), and the last Special Forces soldier to die in Vietnam (Sergeant Fred C. Mick, 12 October 1972), were both members of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Operations in Vietnam were only one aspect of 1st Special Forces Group activities, however. The Group simultaneously carried out security assistance and civic action missions throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific. A “Special Action Force Asia,” or SAFASIA, was organized with 1st Group as its nucleus, to support theater-wide military training, civic action, and disaster relief operations. Under this arrangement, 1st Group was augmented by the 97th Civil Affairs Group; 156th Medical Detachment; 400th Army Security Agency Detachment; 441st Military Intelligence Detachment and the 539th Engineer Detachment.

Much of the early civic action efforts were directed to Thailand and carried out in conjunction with military training missions. 1st Group’s commitment in Thailand eventually grew to such a scale that in 1967 the Group’s D Company was detached and permanently stationed in-country. Re-designated the 46th Special Forces Company, this unit operated in Thailand for the next four years. Among its accomplishments was the training of the Royal Thai Regiment (eventually a division), which afterwards deployed to Vietnam.

Increased experience in supporting civic action and. relief operations resulted in establishment of Disaster Assistance and Relief Teams, or dart’s. 1st Group organized a number of dart’s, each consisting of an A Team augmented by two doctors and 4-6 medics from the SAFASIA medical detachment. Engineers from Group of the 539th Engineers were attached as needed. These task-organized dart’s operated successfully in Luzon, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, and even in the outer island of the Ryukyu chain. The greatest successes of the program occurred during the 1971 Pakistan floods, and the 1972 floods and famine in the Philippines. Teams from 1st Special Forces Group were literally lifesavers during both calamities. Operating rescue boats, inoculating civilians, distributing food, and directing rebuilding efforts, the dart’s saved lives and salvaged livelihoods, and earned America many friends. The Philippines Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) for the latter action.

In 1972, just prior to the Philippines Disaster Relief Operation, 1st Special Forces Group was again reorganized. Companies A, B, and C were consolidated and re-designated as 1st and 2nd Battalions, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). The change was, for the most part, nominal. A “C” Detachment remained the command and control element, with a lieutenant colonel in command. Operational Detachments “B” were now designated as lettered companies of the battalions; the name and role of the “A” Teams remained unchanged. Even as these organizational changes were occurring, a chapter in the history of 1st Special Forces Group was coming to a close.

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