A SPECIAL Special Forces Invite
Earlier in October 2016, I received an email from the US Army Special Forces for the annual honoring of JFK at Arlington National Cemetery. Something that reflects the strong bond even until now between the “silent professionals” and the President.
Wednesday 19 October 2016 – JFK is Honored
Surrounded by a cordon of US Army Special Forces Soldiers in commemoration of how they honored the fallen President in 1963, the Deputy Commander of the 1st Special Forces Regiment, Brigadier General E. John Deedrick, Jr., Deputy Commanding General, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) and invited guests placed a wreath at JFK’s grave and final resting place within Arlington National Cemetery. As in 1963 Soldiers from the 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard” and the US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” complemented the military contingent – also reminisce of the 1963 final honors of the President.
Tradition Began in 1963
The origins of the connection of JFK and the US Army Special Forces began on 12 OCTOBER 1961 when the President met then BG William P Yarborough, who was at that time Commander of the 1st Special Forces Regiment at a ceremony held at McKellar’s Pond on Fort Bragg, North Carolina. JFK was exposed to a comprehensive display of the Special Forces capabilities that afternoon after a morning spent among the 82d Airborne Division and their soldiers.
The arrangements for JFK to see the Special Forces was arranged through a back channel plan by then MG Chester Clifton and then BG William P Yarborough. Since the President had back issues, the Soldiers with their specialties were paraded in front of him while they were on flatbed trucks. At the end, the Special Forces Soldiers assembled in formation, removed their duty caps and donned their green berets. General Yarborough went up to the President with his headgear – the green beret. It was later that a Presidential Order came out that authorized that the Special Forces were offered the distinction of wearing the green beret.
When JFK was assassinated in November 1963, Robert Kennedy, brother of JFK called down to Fort Bragg requesting that a funeral detail of Special Forces Soldiers be included in the President’s final honors. Among the 46 men chosen for the final honors, was SGM Francis J. Ruddy. After the final honors were concluded, SGM Ruddy approached the casket of the President, removed his green beret and placed it on the casket rendering honors to his fallen Commander-in-Chief.
That strong connection between the 1st Special Forces and JFK is maintained with an annual wreath laying in Arlington National Cemetery at JFK’s grave.
P.S. Yes, that is my latest challenge coin awarded by Brigadier General E. John Deedrick, Jr.