Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler (November 1, 1940 - November 5, 1989) was a Vietnam veteran and author who had a brief but spectacular career as a singer and songwriter during the late 1960s. He is best remembered for his patriotic 1966 smash hit, "The Ballad Of The Green Berets," one of very few pop/rock songs from the Vietnam era that portrayed the military in a positive light.
Born Barry Allen Sadler in Carlsbad, New Mexico, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at age 17 and served for four years as a radar technician. In 1962, Sadler enlisted in the U.S. Army and volunteered for Airborne and Special Forces, opting to be a medic. By the end of 1963, he had completed his medical training as a Green Beret, achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant, and began serving in Vietnam the following year. In 1965, while on a combat patrol, he was severely wounded in the knee by a feces-covered punji stick and developed a serious infection in his leg. Later that year, he recorded "The Ballad of the Green Berets," a song he wrote about the Special Forces that caught the attention of Robin Moore, the author of "The Green Berets," who help Sadler with the lyrics and arranged to get him a recording contract with RCA Victor.
Sadler made his national debut in early 1966 with "The Ballad Of The Green Berets," which topped both the Adult Contemporary and Pop/Rock charts and also reached #2 on the Country charts. This epic ballad soon after went gold and eventually sold over nine million copies. He had a follow-up hit in the spring of 1966 with "The "A" Team," which made the Top 40, and also had a minor hit later that year with "One Day Nearer Home." Sadler also recorded an album of similarly-themed songs titled "Ballads Of The Green Berets."
At the height of his fame, Sadler made a number of TV appearances that included one on the Ed Sullivan Show in which he performed his signature song. He received numerous military awards and decorations and went on to become a pulp-fiction novelist whose works included the "Casca: The Eternal Mercenary" series. Historian and Vietnam veteran Marc Leepson published a book in 2017 about this cultural icon's tumultuous life titled "Ballad Of The Green Beret: The Life And Wars Of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler."
- Barry Sadler's biographer, Marc Leepson, discusses the singer's rise to fame, his legacy, his murder charge, and his violent end in an interview with Sean Moores of stripes.com.
- For more information about this pop icon's career and life, see Marc Leepson's list of little-known Barry Sadler facts.
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Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler
- The Ballad Of The Green Berets 1966
(This patriotic ballad topped both the Adult Contemporary and Pop/Rock charts.)
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