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When the Green Berets of the US Army are mentioned, many people think of John Rambo, who became famous for executing the most incredible missions. However, in the real world things are different... or not so much.

Today we are interviewing one of these American special forces operators, this American citizen of Asian origins who not only joined the Green Berets, but also came back from retirement to join a team for the rescue of hostages in the Philippines.

Who is Gene Yu?

Pen name: Chester Wong
Nationality: American
Branch in which he served:
US Army
Unit: Special Forces
Rank: Captain
Years of service: 2001-2013
Awards: 2 bronze stars

We bring you the extraordinary story of this
great man GENE YU

Welcome Mr. Gene Yu, could you tell us what made you want to become a Green Beret in the first place and what it was like to become part of the elite?

I felt that some part of what I was doing was not right when I was serving in the armoured forces, until I learned what the hundreds of Green Berets were doing in northern Afghanistan. After the 9/11 attacks, they were deployed immediately to train local personnel in order to defeat the Taliban regime.

At that moment I said to myself: "Awesome! That is exactly what I want to do”. In order to successfully accomplish a mission assigned to you, you not only depend on your physical capacity or your weapons training, since how intelligently you plan things while establishing a solid relationship with your allies is also key.

Many people think of joining the special forces just because it is very“cool”, they have no idea what it is all about. The vast majority of the missions that are executed are secret, you are not allowed to tell them to anyone, so you will have very few opportunities to show off your work. There are some “not so confidential” things which are the ones that I told in the book, and the others I must keep them a secret.   

The media have revealed that in 2009 you managed to rescue several hostages in Baghdad, could you tell us something about that and what really happened?                                   
Sure, we freed four hostages. This horrific kidnapping happened halfway through my tour of duty in Baghdad, the kidnappers missed their target and took the children of the lieutenant colonel of the Iraqi special armed force, instead of the children from a wealthy family who they wanted to blackmail. This task force has been our ally for a long time, and to make our friendship even stronger, I decided to help in this incident.

Through some channels we collected information on the possible locations where they could be hiding.  So we proceeded to the night search following the plan we had developed.

Almost all of these bad guys that I have come across become instant cowards and do not stop begging for mercy, trembling the moment you arrest them, and the leader of these kidnappers was no exception.

After using "soft" methods, he confessed to the entire kidnapping plan and we immediately notified our other team so that they could carry out a new search, so we managed to rescue the boy along with the other hostages.

What impressed me the most was when the boy ran screaming “dad” into his father's arms, it was the moment in which I felt the most pride in my work, I do not think there is a better job in the world, none that can give me so much honour, sense of accomplishment, all that. 

1954: US Army Special Forces unofficially adopt the green beret as a distinctive headgear.

1955  (June 12) : Used for the first time in an official act at Lieutenant General Joseph P. Cleland's retirement parade, the commands were taken over by a foreign NATO delegation.

1956: General Paul D. Adams, commander of Fort Bragg, prohibited its use. Although the members of the Special Forces continued to wear them secretly.

1961 (September 25): President John F. Kennedy, through Department of the Army Message 578636, authorised them for their exclusive use by special forces.

1961 (October 12): On a visit by the president to the Special Warfare Center in Fort Bragg, the Special Forces were able to wear the green beret as part of their official apparel. The president believed that since they had special missions, they must also have something that makes them stand out from the rest.

1962: President Kennedy referred to the Green Berets as “a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom”

Can you tell us about your first real combat experience? When was it and where in what part of the world?

I remember that it was on a mission where they sent us to northern Iraq, that was the first time I fired at someone (at an enemy). That battle was quite big, I was inside and I heard someone shooting at the enemy, so I started shooting too. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience.

By the way, the stories of my mission in northern Iraq are included in my second book.

I would like to take advance of this opportunity to salute my colleagues from the 10th Special Force Group, they are true brave warriors.

What do you think about airsoft? Would you be interested in participating in an event?

I have been to airsoft events and I know more or less how they are played, but I do not think I would participate. I was very surprised by the gear they wore, they are quite complete and professional. In addition, the players know what each thing is for, it was a totally new and fresh experience for me.

Before starting a mission assigned to you, what did you use to do to relax and calm your nerves?

Before an operation, we all chose things that we liked to do to kill time in a relaxed manner, either alone or with friends. Being commander of the operation, I used to rest lying down alone in the car. Sometimes I listened to music, sometimes I looked at the stars in the sky, sometimes I missed my family who was on the other side of the world, sometimes I thought about whether the next day I would still be alive.

Recently a friend showed me a photo with many stars in the sky and it reminded me of those moments in which I used to count the sky full of stars. The image in the photo was almost identical to what I had experienced. From time to time I feel melancholy when I remember it, comparing it with the life I have now.
But the past stays in the past. I must live in the moment.


This unit, born in 1952, achieved a great deal of prestige in the eighties.

In later decades the Hollywood industry has used other forces as heroes such as the Delta Force or now the SEALs, although we still find some Green Beret stories.

What do you think of the Delta Force?

Delta Forces are very, very serious when compared to Green Berets. Sometimes we even clown around, we even play pranks on each other. But they are always totally calm, no jokes, no pranks... nothing!

I believe this is the correct attitude a professional special forces operator should have. Without question, the Delta Force is a highly prepared and a high-performance unit, although it is not as well known as the SEALs. 


The special forces operator belonging to the 2nd Bn/19th SFG known as “cowboy” was an internet icon thanks to his photos in which he is easily recognizable thanks to his beard (whose legend says is made of Kevlar) and his badass look. But what catapulted him to fame was when one of the soldiers in the cover of a "Medal of Honor” video game had a very realistic and mysterious resemblance to him.

Why did you decide to tell your biography and stories in three separate volumes?

After I retired from the military, my US editor and I discussed how to publish the stories. In the end we decided to start with light stories and gradually introduce more serious and heavy ones.

It is like when you just met a person, at first you talk about inconsequential topics and over time you get into deeper things.

So in the third book, I tried to express why I decided to move away from an environment that I was so proud of, it is also a piece of my heart. When you finish reading the third book, you will surely understand better what I am talking about.

What would be the most unforgettable and shocking chapter of this latest book?

I must say that all the experiences that I wrote in these three books are engraved in my life, which not everyone has the opportunity to experience. If I had to choose just one of them, I would take the hostage rescue in Baghdad.

Many people think that Green Berets are like heroes, but for me they are not. The only important thing is to feel proud for being a Green Beret for the things we do, like in that rescue, the moment the child was released and ran screaming "dad” into his father's arms, just priceless.

I do not think another job would give me the same feeling.

You have been a symbol and an idol for many airsoft players (including myself). We admire the extreme situations you have encountered.

Could you say a few words to these players? Maybe it will help them and change someone.

Thank you very much for your words, allow me share with everyone a rule that has worked for me: if you have a goal but are not willing to pay a price at all to achieve it, that means that you simply lack the determination and passion in your heart to reach it.

I always try to face all kinds of challenges with this attitude, although sometimes things also fail me, so I take a breath but I keep pushing, I will not give up and I will fight to the end. I encourage everyone to live and dare to face all of life's challenges with the same attitude.


If we talk about Green Berets, we are referring to the United States Army Special Forces. The special operations units of this unit are known as ODA (Operational Detachment-Alpha).
These teams are specialised in a particular type of mission (for example, HALO jumps, combat diving, maritime operations…). Each ODA consists of 12 operators with a specific role known as MOS (or Military Occupational Specialty).