Q: Why is La David Johnson, the black Army soldier killed in Niger, pictured wearing a maroon beret?
G.H., of Belleville
A: In 1943, Lt.-Gen. Sir Frederick Browning, commander of the British 1st Airborne Corps, granted a battalion of the U.S. Army’s 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment membership in the British Parachute Regiment and allowed them to wear the British maroon beret.
Ever since, the maroon beret has been an international symbol of airborne forces. That’s why Johnson, who was airborne-qualified and had been assigned to the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), is pictured in a maroon beret. On the other hand, Staff Sgts. Dustin Wright and Bryan Black were Special Forces-qualified, thus earning their green berets. Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson was neither airbone — nor Special Forces — qualified but still provided support services for the 3rd Special Forces Group, which is why he is pictured not wearing either beret.
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The four-color “flash” emblem you see on both the green and maroon berets — yellow, red, black and white — represents the four pre-existing Special Forces units from which the 3rd Group’s members were initially drawn, hence its motto “From the Rest Comes the Best.” Other mottos include “We Do Bad Things to Bad People,” “Hard Times Don’t Last, Hard Men Do” and “Nomads. Anywhere, Anytime.”
Who is the only actor to have roles on the first five “Star Trek” TV series?
Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: A month before Yuri Gagarin became the first human space traveler, the world had already experienced its first space-related death. On March 23, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Valentin Bondarenko was in the midst of a 15-day endurance exercise in a low-pressure altitude chamber with an atmosphere of at least 50 percent oxygen. He accidentally dropped an alcohol-soaked rag on a hotplate, setting off a fire that left him with third-degree burns over most of his body. He died a few hours later.