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Retired Soldiers Not Surprised Accused Soldier Was Not Green Beret

September 19, 1996

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ Former and current Green Berets feel vindicated after a soldier outside of the elite Special Forces unit was accused of painting swastikas on the barracks doors of black soldiers.

Because it appeared to be a hate crime, some critics accused the Special Forces of being full of racists. But authorities said this week a black soldier outside of the Special Forces actually painted the swastikas July 16 at Fort Bragg.

``We didn’t know that it was a black soldier that did it, but we knew in our mind that a Special Forces soldier would never have done it,″ retired Master Sgt. Jimmy Dean said Wednesday.

The Army has not identified the soldier, who is a sergeant. The commander of his unit is starting procedures to discharge him.

The soldier was probably trying to divide the community, said James Florence, a member of the NAACP’s task force on extremist groups in the military.

``It looks like the person was trying to deceive someone,″ Florence said.

The publicity brought criticism on the Green Berets, a tight and prideful group.

Green Berets are ``a bunch of guys who have a thankless job and all of a sudden they’re getting bad publicity,″ retired Sgt. 1st Class Brett Rutherford said.

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