A few years before his death, President John F. Kennedy made a declaration of his vision for a dedicated counter-insurgency force. This is a declaration that would shape the Department of Defense’s capabilities and future of armed conflict. JFK showed an unwavering support for those “unconventional warriors,” and in 1962, authorized the Special Forces Soldiers to wear a distinctive uniform item for their headgear. These soldiers are now known as “The Green Berets.” Green Berets would be called several months after the headgear authorization to serve the president by standing guard over his coffin and participate in the Honor Guard at his funeral. Command Sergeant Major Francis J. Ruddy laid his own green beret at Kennedy’s grave as an ultimate gesture of gratitude and respect. At the time, CSM. Ruddy was unaware of the impact this would have generations to come. At the John F. Kennedy Library, the beret is now on display as a memory of JFK’s vision and honor to all SF soldiers. Every year following the president’s death, Green Berets lay wreaths with the iconic beret at his Eternal Flame memorial. This year, Maj. Gen. John Deedrick, the 1st Special Forces (Airborne) commander, continues the tradition with members from the Kennedy family.
The Crossroads of Special Operations