FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, April 9, 2009) – Green Berets, past and present, took time Apr. 9 to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of Special Forces as a basic branch of the Army.
The commanders of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Csrnko, and the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, Brig. Gen. Michael S. Repass, both spoke about the importance of the Army’s recognition of the Special Forces Brach, its history and continued relevance to the nation’s defense.
“We have come into our own because of the events of 9/11,” Csrnko said. “We no longer have to figure out a training scheduled to do something meaningful during the week of training. Matter of fact, our units has a hard time maintaining some of that training because of the operational tempo that we have today. “
“I don’t think anybody can hold a candle to our Soldiers on the battlefield today,” Csrnko said.
Repass read from the famed ‘Acorn’ speech given by the father of the Special Forces regiment, Col. Aaron Bank, the first Special Forces commander who activated and then led the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). The speech provides analogies to the determination of the Special Forces regiment to be recognized for its relevance to modern warfare and determination to be a full member in the Army’s brotherhood.
“The oak that I am referring to, though not a giant in physical stature, is indeed a giant in potential and versatility,” Repass read.
During the ceremony, Csrnko was joined by Sgt. Javier Perea to cut a cake decorated in honor of the branch birthday. Perea, the junior-most noncommissioned officer of the Special Forces regiment, graduated the Special Forces Qualification Course as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant in March 2009 and will be assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Perea was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces after completing the food service specialist course in 2002. He deployed to Afghanistan three times with 3rd SFG (A) before entering the Special Forces Qualification Course.
Furthering the ties to Special Forces history, Csrnko cut the cake with the Yarborough Knife, a combat field knife presented to Green Berets who graduate the Special Forces Qualification Course. Perea used a replica V-42 knife, issued to members of the First Special Service Force, a predecessor of modern Green Berets, who fought in the World War II.
Long before the establishment of the Special Forces branch, Green Berets were recognized by President John F. Kennedy for their applicability in countering the spread of communism. In 1961, Kennedy authorized the wear of the Green Beret during a visit to Fort Bragg, and in a 1962 letter to the Army, he reiterated his support for Special Forces by calling the Green Beret a “symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom.”
Chief of Staff of the Army John A. Wickham signed General Order 35 in June 1987, making Special Forces a combat-arms branch effective April 9, 1987.