Ballad of the Green Berets (Barry Sadler)

5 MARCH 1966


Barry Sadler’s ‘Ballad of the Green Berets’ topped the US Billboard Hot 100 charts this week. It might have shamelessly served as tough-guy, square-jawed recruitment propaganda, but it did the job and stayed in the #1 position for five weeks, becoming the top-selling single of 1966 in that country (although some charts had it tied with 'California Dreaming' for that honour). It also reached #24 in the UK.

This was a big reminder that not every Vietnam War song of the 1960s was anti-war, and it no doubt inspired many a young lad to sign up (and possibly end up dead, maimed or suffering PTSD). No offence to Sgt Sadler, a combat medic who had been on the front line and was the real deal, although his life story is ultimately tragic.

B-side: 'Letter from Vietnam'
Released: January 1966
Highest chart position: #24 (UK), #1 (US)
Length: 2:27
Label: RCA Victor
Producer: Andy Wiswell


'Fighting soldiers from the sky
Fearless men who jump and die
Men who mean just what they say
The brave men of the Green Beret

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men we'll test today
But only three win the Green Beret

Trained to live, off nature's land
Trained in combat, hand to hand
Men who fight by night and day
Courage deep, from the Green Beret

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men we'll test today
But only three win the Green Beret

Back at home a young wife waits
Her Green Beret has met his fate
He has died for those oppressed
Leaving her this last request

Put silver wings on my son's chest
Make him one of America's best
He'll be a man they'll test one day
Have him win the Green Beret'

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