This song was written by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, a Vietnam War veteran.
Sadler recorded this song in 1965 when he returned home early from duty due to a severe punji stick injury, which is a sharpened bamboo stick with poison on the tip. At this time the Vietnam War had very high tensions.
Barry has written several other songs including: Garet Trooper, Letter from Vietnam, and Trooper's Lament. Nearly all of his music focuses on war and what it was like to be in Vietnam.
The entire song is describing the commitment, challenges, and conditions that those of the special forces had to deal with at this time. During this time many people were drafted into service however for the Green Berets, men were tested and only few were accepted. In addition, Barry Sadler described some of the dangers they faced such as "fearless men who jump and die." The Vietnam War at this time was extremely deadly and the majority of men involved in it would die.
Put silver wings on my son's chest
Make him one of America's best
He'll be a man they'll test one day
Have him win the Green Beret.
This verse is describing the tradition that many soldiers observed. Many soldiers hoped that their sons would one day be tested and accepted into the Green Beret. Barry Sadler's message was for the men of the Green Berets to encourage their sons to be challenged and try to become a Green Beret.