Origin of the Black Beret

*  Clothes Become Tradition With River Patrol Force

Tue, 21 Aug 2001
An interesting addition to the Black Beret story from Burt Witham to Larry Bissonnette.
The first one [black beret] was presented to me by the Chief of the Vietnamese River Police. I had queried Commander NavForV and he indicated a resounding "NO". But the River Police Chief said;"If I ceremoniously present this first one to you he can hardly say no, again." Thus we still wear them with pride......Burt Witham

On Thursday April 19, 2001,
ITCS Siewinski posted an entry on the Gamewardens website. He said he, "would like to learn about the history of the "Black Beret" worn by the "Brown Water Sailors" in Vietnam."

Bill Rutledge, a former SEAWOLF door gunner, decided he would ask some questions. He got responses from Fred McDavitt, former Officer in Charge River Section 531, 1966-1967; and Cecil Martin, former Boat Captain, PBR- 110, Navy Cross winner, of River Division 531, 1968-1969.

Fred McDavitt starts with the disclaimer; "In the haze of 35 years, I may have left a fact or two out, or invented one or two. But it is to the best of my remembrance."

Cecil Martin doesn't need any disclaimer. He provided a copy of the message from Commander River Patrol Force, Captain Burt Witham, authorizing the wearing of the Black Beret. Cecil got the message from page 6 of the Gamewardens of Vietnam West Coast Chapter 1988 Newsletter dated June 19, 1988/VolumeXV 3.

*  Origin of the Black Beret, Provided by Fred McDavitt

*  COMRIVPATFOR Message, Provided by Cecil Martin

*  "Boats of Glass, Balls of Brass, Black Berets Forever", RiverSection/Division 531 Toast