The all-black U-shaped shield that members of the 5th Special Forces have worn on their Green Berets since the mid-1980s is being retired in favor of the Vietnam-era flash that is both a nod toward the Republic of Vietnam as well as the two Special Forces groups that preceded the 5th into the war. An announcement posted Nov. 18 on Facebook noted the change would occur during a March 23 ceremony at Gabriel Field, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
2016 will mark the 55th anniversary of the activation of the 5th Special Forces Group in 1961. During a visit to observe training at the Special Warfare Center, President John F. Kennedy personally approved the distinctive Special Force's Green Beret. The return to the original flash, “... is to honor that history and especially those who did not return," according to Cliff Newman, executive director of the Special Forces Association.
While there is disagreement within the Special Forces over the colors and pattern of the Vietnam-era flash (three red stripes divided and bordered by yellow stripes—the same scheme as the flag of the Republic of Vietnam), the Association states the yellow and red stripes pay tribute to the 1st and 7th Special Force Groups that deployed in Vietnam prior to the arrival of the 5th Special Forces arriving in 1964.