Angie Whitehurst

Did you know that the United States has been at war for 222 of her 239 years of existence? Starting with the war against the Native Americans in 1776 to the existing war on terror. During these wars a lot of brave men and women lost their lives. They deserve to be honored.

I would like to give a special honor to Don Vitek, former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and homeless veteran, who took the time out of his day to tell me some of his experiences on what it was like training for the Green Beret.

Roughly one in 100 soldiers will win the Green Beret. They have five primary missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action and counter-terrorism. The Green Berets were formed on June 19, 1952. The Green Berets train and teach forces in other countries to fight their own battles and to win their own wars.

Don did not win the Green Beret, but he told me that the training was designed to eliminate the men who are not quite tough enough. He told me that the hardest part of training was different for each man, because each man will be forced to face and eliminate his own demons and fears. This is how you get the cream of the crop.

There are basic eligibility requirements to be considered for entry into the Green Berets: be a male age 20-30, be a U.S. citizen, be a high school graduate, Airborne qualified, score 240 on the Army physical fitness test, be eligible for a secret security clearance, swim 50 meters wearing boots, and have 20/20 vision in eyes. One year college is preferred, but not mandatory.

Don told me they dismissed him before he got started.

“My attitude was inappropriate at that time for their mission; remember this: you can control exactly one thing — your own attitude,” said Don. “Pray God for the souls of all our troops.”

He requested that I include “The Ballad of the Green Beret,” written by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler and Robin Moore in 1966, with my article:

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 will 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 peak from the Green Berets.

Silver wings upon their chest

These are men, America’s best

One hundred men will 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 his 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.