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Ballad of The Green Berets
Barry Sadler: A Soldier's Perspective


God Bless the Victims!
About Barry Sadler
Singer, Songwriter, Author and former Green Beret

Barry Sadler, U.S. Green Beret

Barry Allen Sadler (November 1, 1940 September 8, 1989) was an American author and musician. Sadler served as a Green Beret medic and Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Most of his works have military themes, and he billed himself under his military rank of Staff Sergeant as SSgt Barry Sadler.


Sadler was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the second son of John Sadler and Bebe Littlefield of Phoenix, Arizona. Sadler's parents divorced shortly afterward, with his father dying of a rare form of nervous system cancer at age 36. Littlefield took Sadler's older brother, Robert, to various places in the Southwest, working temporary jobs in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.

Barry Sadler, U.S. Green Beret

Military Service

Sadler dropped out of the Leadville, Colorado high school in the tenth grade. He hitchhiked across the country, and joined the U.S. Air Force after a year of wandering the country. Sadler was trained in radar and traveled to Japan at age 17. After a few years in the Air Force, Sadler joined the Army, hoping for more excitement.

While serving in the Vietnam War, he was severely wounded in the knee by a feces-covered punji stick while leading a patrol in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, southeast of Pleiku in May 1965. At the time, Sadler was on an antibiotic for dysentery, so no major ill effects from the punji stick were seen. He used only a cotton swab and an adhesive bandage while finishing the patrol. Later, Sadler developed a major infection of the leg, sending him home. During dangerous surgery, Sadler's doctors had to enlarge the wound to drain it and administer penicillin. While recovering in the hospital, Sadler heard Robert F. Kennedy dedicating the new JFK Center for Special Warfare at Fort Bragg. At that moment, Sadler promised himself that if his leg fought the infection, he would give away the rights to his song.

Barry Sadler, U.S. Green Beret

Sadler recorded his now-famous song, "Ballad of The Green Berets," a patriotic song in ballad style. The recording of his Vietnam songs was initiated by the urging of writer Robin Moore, author of the novel The Green Berets which became a movie starring John Wayne. Moore wrote an introduction to Sadlers' autobiography, I'm a Lucky One, written with Tom Mahoney (Macmillan, 1967). The book's title is also a Sadler recorded song. The "Ballad of the Green Berets" was picked up by RCA Victor Records in early 1966 and became a fast-selling single, reaching #1 on the yearly single charts. Sadler recorded an album of similarly themed songs, called Ballads of the Green Berets. None of the other songs on the album (which generally tell the common tales of soldiers serving in a time of war) made an impact. Sadler was widely thought to be a writer of simple songs, and having an average voice.

Unable to score another major hit, although "The A-Team" was a top-30 Billboard charted single in 1966, Sadler took to writing books. He chose to write about soldiers, but his series of novels took a turn far different from his music. His "Casca" series centers on the title character, Casca Rufio Longinius (a sort of combination of Longinus and The Wandering Jew), who stabbed Christ during the crucifixion, and is cursed to forever remain a soldier until the Second Coming. The series of 24 novels takes Casca through to the 20th century. Sadler himself wrote only the first two, with the remainder being farmed out by the publishers to other writers and issued under his name.

Barry Sadler, U.S. Green Beret

His Death

Later in life and after serving time in prison for a fatal shooting, Sadler moved to Guatemala City in the mid 1980's and often hung out at a bar/restaurant called La Europa (also known as Freddie's Bar for the German proprietor). During this time he was engaged in various pursuits. He continued to publish the Casca books (mostly using various ghostwriters), produced a self-defense video (which was never released) and even helped with vaccination programs in rural villages. But it was often believed that he was involved in selling arms to the Guatemalan military or arming the Contras in Honduras and Nicaragua.

It was in Guatemala City that he was shot in the head one night in a taxi cab. He was airlifted to the States by friends from the Soldier of Fortune Magazine, where he was hospitalized and remained in a coma for several months. He died little more than a year later in his mother's house in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The circumstances involving his shooting remain a mystery. It has been claimed that he committed suicide, that he shot himself accidentally while showing off to a female companion, or, that he was assassinated for allegedly training and arming the Contras. It is also possible that he was simply a victim of random violence.

Ballad of The Green Berets
Barry Sadler: A Soldier's Perspective

God Bless the Victims!


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God Bless the Victims!

The Unforgotten

The Unforgotten

Anxious Dead
A Soldier
A Soldier’s Prayer
A Mother’s Tears
About Barry Sadler
Barry Sadler: Soldier’s Perspective
Ballad of the Green Beret
Dear Dad
Deck of Cards
Fightin’ Side of Me
In Flanders Fields
I Am Your Flag
It Is The Soldier
Freedom Is Not Free
The Patriot
Poem by Dave Demick
Wings of Might
Got Your Back
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