Vinson: Barry Sadler's Boro connection
Tuesday, June 16, 2015 4:32 pm
By MIKE VINSON
DATE: Prior to A.D. 30
Nailed to a cross, Jesus of Nazareth is near death. Casca...a Roman soldier standing at the foot of the cross...thrusts his spear into Jesus' side. Before dying, Jesus dooms Casca to wander the earth, as a soldier, until the Second Coming. Though he is immortal and never ages, Casca, feels all pain inflicted on him.
DATE: May 1965
Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, a medic with the elite Green Berets, was on a patrol mission with his unit, attempting to gather intelligence on the enemy, the Viet Cong. While on patrol Sadler was injured in the leg by a feces-covered punji stick, a deadly tactic used by Viet Cong soldiers. The infection became so serious Sadler was flown to Walter Reed Hospital in the United States. (NOTE: A "punji stick" is a bamboo stake sharpened at the exposed end, concealed in high grass, in a hole, or in deep mud, intended to wound and infect enemy soldiers.)
Though accounts vary, it's been written while a patient at Walter Reed, Sadler heard/watched Senator Robert F. Kennedy dedicate the JFK Center for Special Warfare at Fort Bragg (North Carolina). After hearing Senator Kennedy, Sadler vowed if he fully recovered from the leg infection, he would finish up a "special song" on which he'd been working.
"Fighting soldiers from the sky
Silver wings upon their chest
The following years would prove eventful for Barry Sadler, no longer a Green Beret in the U.S. Army. In 1978, Sadler shot to death a man in Nashville, Tennessee. Supposedly, the two men were arguing over a woman, and Sadler claimed he acted in self defense. Sadler was convicted of involuntary manslaughter; however, he received a relatively light sentence.
In 1979, Barry Sadler wrote and released the novel "Casca 1: The Eternal Mercenary," upon which the opening scene of this column was based. The novel sold well.
Sadler moved to Guatemala City, Guatemala, in the mid-'80s. Over the years, several sordid stories have circulated regarding what actually happened to Barry Sadler on September 7, 1988: While returning home via taxi from a nightclub in Guatemala City, patronized by mercenaries, Sadler intentionally shot himself in the head; Sadler was shot in a robbery attempt; Sadler's handgun accidentally discharged inside the taxi; Sadler was shot by a shady acquaintance, with whom Sadler had been drinking, after an argument over an arms deal gone badly. Others than those actually involved, no one knows the true story.
With the help of friends, such as folks from "Soldier of Fortune" magazine, Sadler was airlifted from Guatemala City back to the United States, where he remained in a coma for several months. Though he came out of the coma, Sadler suffered significant brain damage.
Sadly enough, at age 49, Barry Sadler passed away at the Alvin C. York V.A. Medical Center in Murfreesboro, TN, November 5, 1989, from injuries related to having been shot in the head.
Barry Sadler: Green Beret, patriot, songwriter, author, one-time Middle Tennessean.