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Memories of a Special Forces Soldier
Home Before Special Forces 10th SFGA 8th SFGA - Panama.
Before Special Forces

Life Before Special Forces. 


I was born in Bakersfield, CA on April 14, 1940. During the War we moved to Long Beach, where my father worked in the ship yards.  He was ineligible for the military due to an injured elbow. I remember standing at the edge of the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, looking down and thinking it was a million feet down to the water.
We moved back to Bakersfield after the war and I went to school there until the tenth grade.
I moved to Napa, CA and graduated from Mont La Salle H.S.  I then attended St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA.  I attended St. Mary's College for two years then moved to Sherman Oaks, CA.  I attended San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal. St. Univ. at Northridge). I stayed there for three and a half years and then joined the Army on Jan. 29, 1963, two days after finals.
I attended Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Ord, CA., then went to Airborne Training at Ft. Benning, GA.
While at Ft. Benning they were recruiting for Special Forces.  Until then it was required to be an NCO with over three years service to volunteer, but there wasa a shortage of Communications personnel and began recruiting first enlistment personnel.


Special Forces Training 

I arrived at Special Forces Training Group located at Ft. Bragg, NC in August 1963. The training was done in three phases":

  • A general phase consisting of physical and mental evaluation.  I was selected to go to communications training.  It should be noted that all Special Forces are well trained to perform all Special Forces Missions and in addition each member has a specialty and is cross-trained in several other specialties.
  • MOS Training in which we learn our specialty.  In my case I became a communications specialist, capable of sending and receiving Morse Code at a speed of at least 18 words per minute.  I also learned the operation of our basic radio: The AN/GRC-109, and antenna theory and the ability to conduct clandestine communications.  It wasn't a glamor job, but a good commo man was well respected and protected by the rest of the team.  Based upon our missions, the commo man was critical to performance and survival.
  • The final phase was Branch Training which all trainees attended.  We learned the principles of clandestine operations and guerilla and counter-guerilla operations.  We learned the importance of empathy and gaining the respect of our counterparts.  We also learned the importance of respecting their customs and not being "Ugly Americans". Upon the completion of this phase a Field Training Exercise was conducted for us to demonstrate and be evaluated our new-learned skills - not the least of which was getting along with our fellow team-mates during stressful events. 

Finally we earned and received the coveted Green Beret!

I received my assignment to the 10th Special Forces Group located in Bad Toelz, Germany.  Enroute I attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA to learn the German Language.


The Quiet Heros.
When I first wore the Green Beret, few knew who we were.  Though our lineage goes back to the Revolutionary War, the First Special Forces Regiment came into being in 1953. The Special Forces adopted the headgear of the British Royal Commando - the Green Beret.
In 1962 President Kennedy made the Green Beret the official and authorized headgear of the Army Special Forces. When I wore my uniform people asked one of two questions:" What country are you from", or if we said we were Special Forces they asked if we played in the band.  To the former question I would reply that I was Canadian. 
How things have changed!  Now, everyone in the Army wears a Beret and it seems that everyone in the military is Special Forces.  Special Forces is confused with Special Operations.  Now everybody from a bus driver to a cook wears a beret and is "Special Forces". 
That's fine.  It makes it a little easier for the true SF to quietly go about their jobs.  They are truly: The Quiet Heros of the military.  Let the S.E.A.L.S. and others have their notoriety.  They now attract the wannabes and we continue to attract the true professional.
O.K. Off of my soap box and on to Germany.


10th Special Forces Group (Abn)