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The Ballad Of The Green Berets

by

Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Sadler wrote this song to idolize the troops in Vietnam when public opinion was low. He was injured by a punji stick (a type of booby trap) and while laid up in the hospital released the rights to this song so it could be heard. (thanks, Mike - Pittsburgh, PA)
Sadler was a member of the Green Berets, the US Army's elite Special Forces unit. He was serving as a medic and he nearly had to have his leg amputated after he was injured. While he was recuperating, he wrote songs for other wounded soldiers. A TV news crew filmed him singing this at the hospital, and when the footage aired in the US, it became a huge hit very quickly.
This served as the inspiration for a John Wayne film called The Green Berets. It was parodied by the left wing English singer Billy Bragg in his "The Marching Song Of The Covert Battalions."
In the US, this was the biggest-selling single of 1966. It was a #1 hit for 5 weeks and was the #21 song of the '60s.
Barry Sadler was shot in the head during a robbery attempt at his home in Guatemala in 1988. He returned to America where he died from heart failure the following year. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 4)
Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler
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Comments (20):

First..Edward from Reston,West Virgina, dang right about the A Team song being enjoyed--it must have been the basis for the title of that much later TV show!!

TomCat, from Richmond VA, very well balanced point.

Andre, I can only say that I can't argue with an idiot.

d finally, Mari, and Jas, VERY good points! I mean,, no one here in America, with some very famous exceptions (a-HEM, I won't name anyone), wants to START
a war with Englan, Japan, Vietnam, The Middle East, or whatever, but WE WERE DEFENDING OURSELVES!! I mean, what if a landmark, Andre, which YOU have, was destroyed..?

Jas, Mari, others, this Bud's for you, but it will be a even WORSE Armegeddon IF, just in NY where 9/11 happened, if the Empire State Building and WORST, Statue of Liberty, sTHE SIGN of our FREEDOM, or
The Golden Gate Bridge here on the West Coast, or FINALLY, the WHITE HOUSE, and PENTAGON were attacked. Maybe Andre is just CRYING for that. He can STAY out of America far as I'M concerned!! (Though I like both sides of the topic and like to listen to war songs regardless of the opinion..kinda like TomCat who I mentioned said in his or her reply.). 4/15/14
- Steve, Whittier, CA
On January 30th 1966, S/Sgt. Barry Sadler performed "The Ballad of the Green Berets" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
And on that very same day it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; on February 27th it peaked at #1 (for 5 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 9 of those 13 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
Twelve days later on February 11th S/Sgt Sadler appeared on the ABC-TV program 'The Jimmy Dean Show' and once again performed the song...
During the last three weeks it was at #1, the #2 record was "19th Nervous Breakdown" by the Rolling Stones (it never did reach #1, but their next release, "Paint It Black", did)...
R.I.P. S/Sgt Sadler (1940 - 1989), Mr. Sullivan (1901 - 1974), and Mr. Dean (1928 - 2010).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
I just wanted to say to all of the above, I have a deep and never-ending respect for the US SFG, already having noted that you guys don't like being called Green Berets. I am a proud and dedicated Australian, so much so I am this year going into the Australian Regular Army. I know that despite the great work that the Australian Defence Force and in particular the Australian Regular Army takes part in, I will never get the opportunity to serve beside the best of the very best of the US SFG. And to those jerks bagging the US and their efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, f*** off. Take your extremist al-Qaeda sympathising B.S elsewhere. They started it and only the combined efforts of America and its allies, Australia being one, can end it.

Nothing illegal about defending everyone's liberties and saying "f--k off" to terrorists
- Erik, Sydney, Australia
I am a proud son of one of America's best. He was in Vietnam between 1968 and 1969. He ran with Mad dog and his knick name was skinnyminni. I watched as anyone who knew him showed him total respect. I honor my father and thank god I am his son. This song still brings tears to my eyes anytime I hear it. today he is retire master sargent William O Brown, known as simply "pa" by his loving children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I remember vividly the day he returned from war, we had been living in Maine while he served in Veietnam, my best friend of that year said "so what your babykilling dad is home" I jumped on him and beat him until he bled. I then went back to Fort Bragg with other kids of our father wariors, friends like Garland, Tracey Bill and so many others, I felt the sorrow of many of my friends as they learned of their fathers death. To those who put them down and those who did not grow up in the milatary I say, mind your own business and go to hell. I love my father and respect what he did. He asked me after i graduated not to join as the "culture" of the seventies had overtaken. My only regret in life is I listened to his advise and did not join. , I am now in Khartoum with the Woman I love who is serving as a Diplomat, I think of my father daily and pray for his recovery from heart surgery. He is my hero and my father and I am truely thankful for both. To all the SF men I grew up in the shadows of I say thank you. I try to honor you with my commitment to honor and honesty in my daily life. All of you deserve the respect of out Nation as does all who serve.
- William, Khartoum, Sudan
I served in Vietnam in 1966 with Air Force Forward Air Controllers. We lived out at Forward Operating Bases and met, lived with, drank & ate with, fought with Army SF. They were always relieved when our A1E Birddog was overhead. Our FAC's were as tough as those SF troops. A FAC NEVER left the battle until help arrived or another FAC came on station. Many a SF patrol was heard to say over the radio "Hit MY Smoke"
These were one bad ass group of fighters bar none and when a FAC was overhead they pushed the fight no matter what the odds were knowing that air support was only minutes away. Two things that VC didn't want to do was piss off A FAC or SF fighters.
- John, Omaha, NE
First of all Thank you to all the brave men and women who keep us safe at home. My father fought at the Panama canal He was part of D-3-4 and I am proud to be a child of a survivor. Most people don't understand those who fought for us had a live or die responce. They loved their country as we love them. I play this song proudly and my father loves this. (It saves my ears from his singing of it.) But to have a compliment from every one who served is the greatest honor this man can recive. SSgt Barry Sadler dose a great honor in my house and others by singing a great song with the truth standing behind him and soldier's who keep fighting to protect what they love. This Country and the right to freedom. This will be passed down in my family to my children and grandchildren and so forth as long as I can. I am proud to be AMERICAN BORN AND BREED! So are my children.
- Melissa, Portland, OR
I first heard the song on the Ed Sullivan show, I could not understand it because my English was limited...Two months later my uncle died in Vietnam, two years later my cousin died also in vietnam...a few months later I was in an also went and survived vietnam...I understand the song now..and everytime I see my son in his uniform with two tours in Iraq..I still sing it. I played it when he came back home twice...I was a grunt for 8 years in the Army, but when I die I want it play on my funeral...The war in vietnam was not popular, we fought because our country asked us to...Yes it was not a legal war..But only to the Communist..Any time you fight for freedom from oppression it is legal Andre, yes we fought and asked no questions..thats what been a soldier is, but thats beyond you! You do not measure up to it. My son does and so do many other son's in the good ole US of A.
- rOMERO, jOSE A, NYC, Puerto Rico
OK, let's clarify a few things here. First: Andre, you weren't born here, so don't come here and start complaining about our policies unless you want to return to whatever rat hole you crawled out of to get here. It's really easy to talk about an "unjust, illegal war" when you aren't qualified to serve in it in the first place. You don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about. You're just parroting what you've heard on TV. Second: I served with 7th SFG for 5 1/2 years and think I would speak for everyone when I mention that we really don't like the term "Green Berets." The thing is, it's a hat, and it's not even one that we wore often as it's not really practical. A PC or a baseball cap is more comfortable and it keeps the sun/rain/Andres out of your face. Nobody in Group refers to it as the "Green Berets." It's SF, or usually just Group. I guess Ballad of the Green Berets has a better ring to it than Ballad of the Special Forces and Ballad of the Group could be about anything. I did 2 tours in Afghanistan and 1 in Iraq, in Andre's so-called "illegal war," there was nothing illegal about it. You're a complete and total fool. All you know if the devastation you've seen on CNN because talking about the schools and hospitals we built doesn't sell advertisments. As for Joel and what he says is the "macho BS" in this song; that's a pretty ridiculous statement. The last verse is about the guy wanting his son to grow up and join SF. What's so wrong about that? How is it even remotely sexist? He's dying, he has a wife and a son at home, he wants his son to grow up and join SF. That's it. He didn't say "Back at home his young wife waits, barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen." I understand that you Corps types aren't huge on reading, but you really need to look up the definition of "sexist." What SSG Sadler is saying is fairly accurate. We are required to pass jump school, hence silver wings. We do jump into an op sometimes, and we do die sometimes, so yes we jump and die. We are taught to forage, so yes we actually do live off "nature's land." We are taught various hand-to-hand combat techniques which come from multiple martial disciplines, so yes we are trained in "combat, hand-to-hand." Most ops, especially these days, are conducted at night, so yes we do fight "by night and day." I went through SFAS before the wars started, so the actuality was that at the time was that only about 1% of the people who started SFAS would ultimately go on to A) pass SFAS and be selected, 2 different things because you can finish SFAS and still not be selected; B) successfully complete their designated SFQC, or Q course; C) successfully complete their first 2 year tour on an ODA or ODB in order to permanently keep their tab and qualifications. The percentage is a little higher now because of the war, but 3% is a pretty accurate depiction. During Vietnam 3% was the norm. So tell me Joel, how is that "macho BS" when he is just stating the facts in a song? I think virtually anybody who has a long tab and a Yarborough knife would agree with what this song is saying. This song WAS NOT designed to "glorify an illegal war." He never even mentions Vietnam. All SSG Sadler is talking about is one very, very small unit in a much larger American military. Truth be told, I really don't care if people like the war or if they hate it, it doesn't matter to the soldier. You might as well be kicking your dog because Purina raised the price of dog food. Just enjoy the song, quit trying to read whatever the neo-hippie message of the day is into it, and maybe think of how completely disrespectful it is to put your own liberal agenda against a song that some of us are very honored to have heard.
- Jas, Clifton, TX
Mari, I applaud your comments. Andre and the rest of his "comrads" take advantage of the freedoms our great service men and women have provided by fighting evil, like communism and terrorism. Say what you want, but as far as the Viet Nam War, our purpose was to keep the communist from taking over most of Asia. We helped succeed that. My father was a Viet Nam Vet and I am very proud of him for that, and sickened by the treatment he and the rest of the heroes received on their return.
- John, St. Paul, KS
My son is a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. As a mother of a soldier, I will never give up on any of our soldiers. If you don't like the way America handles her views, get out of our country and stay out.
- Olive, Godwin, NC
Okay. I served in the Marine Corps and was in Desert Storm. As a vet I don't like the macho bs of this song. The last verse is very sexist. Say what you will but I can not stand either this song or Barry Sadler. Semper Fi
- Joel, Columbia, SC
Excuse me, Andre. My cousin lost his life at the tender age of 19, so you can make stupid ass comments. Yes, people don't like the Vietnam War, but the song isn't about that. The song is about the Special Forces, Green Berets, and all of the wonderful men and women that fought to ensure us freedom. These wonderful people lost life and limb, so we can be free to do and say what we want. Remember and honor that.
- Sheila, Akron, OH
Andre, I will "flame" you; you were not born and raised here....and the song glorifies the men who fought and died so transplants like you could come here. You haven't been there and done that, so you have no right...oh, excuse me...you do because our men died and fought. Doesn't matter what you think of the war: don't you ever put down our soldiers and live here. As the proud mother of a soldier, I wish those such as you would go home and stay. I love the song and will play it often.
Mari, Oklahoma
- Mari, Tulsa, OK
This song was the first song on Side - A of Barry Sadler's album of the same name . Followed up songs that were included on the album were : 2]"I'm The Lucky One" , 3]"Letter From Vietnam" , 4]"Badge Of Courage" , 5]"Saigon" , "Salute to the Nurses". ..The Side - B side included : 1]"I'm Watching the Raindrops Fall" , 2]" Garet Trooper" , 3]"The Soldier Has Come Home" , 4]" Lullaby" , 5]"Trooper's Lament" , 6]"Bamiba" . The CD version of the album includes the bonus tack , " The A-Team" . ..My dad still has the record album , and it's an antique .
- Mike, Franklin County, PA
I first heard this song at a comrad's house. Like me he is a transplant to the US of A. I did not like this song because it glorified an unjust and illegal war (not unlike Iraq). Please do not flame me or anything like that for my ideas.
- Andre, Killvetch, PA
This was one of the great 60s one hit wonders. The march-like beat and the line "Silver wings upon his chest. These are men. America's best" are unforgettable.
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
I served in Viet Nam in 1969 and 70. The song, The Ballad of the Green Beret was and is my favorite song. I will not comment on the war other than to say our fighting men were never recognized or respected properly. This song and many good movies on Viet Nam have kept the U.S. Soldier's role in SouthEast Asia in a fairly good and sometimes honest light. I sincerely hope that this fine song never dies.
- William, Corona, CA
Hi. I'm new to the website, but I'd like to just say hello. I was just a kid when this song came out, but I Think the Vietnam War was wrong. I still like this song though because Mr. Sadler had a good voice and he sang it well.
- TomCat, Richmond, VA
Barry Sadler was also the author of the popular book series, "Casca" about the man who pierced the side of Christ on Golgotha
- Kari, Rochester, NY
Barry Sadler had another hit which was on the B side of The Ballad Of the Green Berets called The A Team which ;though not as popular, was still enjoyed in some circles.
- Edward, Reston, WV
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