Sunday, May 13, 2001


Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, home in Hawaii in 1999,
has been involved in recent decisions about soldiers' berets.

No ‘rites of passage’
needed for beret


By Gregg K. Kakesako

Soldiers will not be required to undergo any "rites of passage" to receive the Army's new black berets.

The Army now believes that soldiers who have completed basic training are qualified to be issued the beret at their first duty station.

The decision to eliminate the rites of passage, which were to have included an Army history test, was made the same week Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki appeared before the House Small Business Committee on May 2 to answer questions about procurement of the black berets.

Congressmen said only one firm of the seven originally contracted was located in the United States. Some in Congress believe the Pentagon may have bypassed the Berry Amendment, which restricts foreign access to U.S. government defense procurement by giving preference to U.S.-based companies.

Shinseki's directive was for the entire service to don the berets June 14, on the Army's 226th birthday. However, because of three companies defaulting on their beret delivery and a policy decision not to issue berets produced in China, not all soldiers will be wearing the black berets next month.

In October, Shinseki announced that the Army would outfit its soldiers with black berets as a symbol of transforming to a lighter, more deployable force.

Shinseki said it was in February he learned that the berets were being manufactured outside the United States. Shinseki added that if he had known earlier, he would have been more flexible with the time to don the black berets.

The 25th Infantry Division said it has been told that its 17,000 berets will be shipped to Schofield Barracks on Aug. 20.

Col. Lawrence P.A. Burgess, Tripler Army Medical Center's chief of surgery, has received the Surgeon General's Award for Military Academic Excellence, the Lewis Aspey Mologne Award.

Burgess graduated from Roosevelt High School, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1976 and the John A. Burns School of Medicine in 1980. He trained in otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Tripler in 1985 and completed fellowship training in head and neck oncologic surgery at Stanford University Medical Center in 1986.


>> Camp Smith: Brig. Gen. Michael H. Tice to major general as reserve forces mobilization assistant to the commander in chief, Pacific Command.

>> Hickam Air Force Base: Col. Albert Richards to brigadier general as the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing commander.

>> Kaneohe Bay: Cmdr. Doug Yancey to the 52nd commanding officer of the Patrol Squadron Four (VP-4). He replaced Cmdr. Doug Whitaker.

>> Schofield Barracks: Brig. Karl Eikenberry, who has been assistant 25th Infantry Division commander since September, to deputy director for plans, policy and strategy at the Pentagon.

>> Sand Island: Capt. Steven Ratti to commander of the Coast Guard cutter Jarvis, replacing Capt. Robert Stevens.

>> Fort Shafter: Sgt. Maj. Raelynn Broad-Kela, who is assigned to U.S. Army Pacific State Military Support Office, to her current rank. Also promoted to sergeant major was Susan Shishido, 4969th Multi-Functional Training Brigade, and Hattie Wagnon, also of the 4969th Multi-Functional Brigade.

Gregg K. Kakesako can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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