Thursday, February 17, 2011


Barry Sadler (November 1, 1940 – November 5, 1989) was a Green Beret medic in Vietnam, and of course his main claim to fame was as singer songwriter of the immortal BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERETS.

There's another side to the great balladeer of Special Forces, however: Barry Sadler was also the author of the notorious CASCA THE ETERNAL MERCENARY series of novels.

In an earlier era they would have been labelled "pulp fiction."

The "Casca" saga centers on the title character, Casca Rufio Longinius, a Roman soldier who stabbed Christ during the crucifixion, and is cursed to remain a soldier eternally till the Second Coming. The series of novels takes Casca through to the 20th century. Sadler himself wrote only the first few, with the remainder of the original 22 books being farmed out by the publishers to other writers and issued under his name.

There's a STORMBRINGER tie-in, of course: a private in the barracks in the early eighties could not escape these sacred texts. So somewhere between pulling CQ runner duties or one of those stupid details where they'd have you guarding a building and if you got lucky there'd be a jeep or a truck you could sit in to keep out of the rain, bust out your L-shape and read a few chapters of CASCA or CONAN THE BARBARIAN or maybe even MACK BOLAN.

FAST FORWARD: Kuwait, 2001. We were doing this unGodly commute down the National Highway back and forth to this Kuwaiti camp where their guys were pulling their annual training and we were the lucky guys who drew the short straw, which meant we got to train these poor rich slobs who really didn't want to be there.

Anyway our team Warrant Officer was Eric Rojo - not his real name - the best damn Warrant in Special Forces and probably the oldest, and one of the most lethal men I ever had the pleasure of serving next to. A cowboy from Oklahoma who held advanced science degrees and had once worked as a chemist for Exxon; Chief Rojo always got a lot of respect. Anyway Rojo popped this CD into the dashboard; yep, you guessed it; CASCA THE ETERNAL MERCENARY.

Well this was good, and all of us poor slobs who had soldiered through and paid our dues in the early eighties happily listened to the adventures of Barry Sadler's alter-ego, nodding our heads approvingly, knowing that we were receiving Green Beret lore and wisdom straight from the source. We'd tapped into the mother lode, apparently, because Rojo had brought the entire 22-volume collectors edition disk set, and suddenly this deployment began to look a little more bearable.

Of course the Team Captain hadn't been there in the early eighties - the youngest NCO on the team probably had more time under canopy that he had in the Army - he had no idea what this tripe was we were listening to and he couldn't figure out for the life of him what the hell it was all about. Finally on the second day he goes, "What is this sh*t we're listening to?"

Suddenly the CASCA material doubled in value, because IT PISSED OFF THE OFFICER! Because I was the 18F - team intell sergeant and resident philosopher - I spoke up in this serious tone of voice; from the back of the van I started with, "You are ignorant of your Special Forces heritage, Sir . . ."

He came back with, "What? WHAT? What the hell are to talking about ? ? ?"

This was license to push it, and I started getting more and more disrespectful in an oblique way; the Captain hated me so it was glorious fun, of course, and everybody else was digging it. The Captain was going nuts - he had self-confidence issues to begin with - until finally Chief Rojo spoke up, "He's talking about Barry Sadler, Sir."

"Huh? Barry who?"

"You know, the guy who wrote BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERETS."

"Huh? Oh yeah, him. What's that got to do with this crap we're listening to, this Mickey Mouse sh*t that Linnane likes?"

"Barry Sadler wrote it, Sir."

"Huh? What, the song? I KNOW THAT . . ."

"No, the book, Sir."

"Book, what book?" I'm telling you, this Captain was a real specimen - the kind the Brits call a Rupert.

"CASCA THE ETERNAL MERCENARY, Sir - this stuff we're listening to . . ."

The Captain goes, "Huh? What?" a few more times, then starts studying the box the disk came in; like a hog staring at a wristwatch.

Anyway I couldn't do a post about Barry Sadler and not mention CASCA THE ETERNAL MERCENARY - a character that Sadler modeled after himself, apparently, and then set out to emulate.

The Kuwait deployment actually had a couple high points, but it ended bad - real bad - like everything else in that particular twelve-month period. And like every significant event in my life, what happened to my team in Kuwait was eclipsed six months later when the buildings came down in New York and everything changed for all of us, from now and forever more, into . . . eternity . . .

Thursday Bird HERE



  1. I still have the record and of course the CD of Ballet of the Green Beret and I have most of the casca books, as a student of history I enjoyed although the "casca the aztec" was the creepiest. The "God of death" could be called a sequel when Casca accompanied Cortez back to the land of jade. I also liked the Mack Bolan books, through stoney man doctrine (egads it has been a while). I used to get the "gold eagle publishing" set every month with several different authors like able team, ete,ete.
    Was that picture of the panzer soldier actually Sadler? I kept seeing it and I wondered if it was an actual pic of Sadler or a pic that was of some other German Vet?

    I thank you for your time

  2. I worked at Charter/Ace (part of Grosset & Dunlap back then) who published the Casca novels. There was some talk of a companion series, CHON-JI THE ETERNAL REFUGEE. Each book would be 200 pages of Chon-Ji grubbing on his farm and in the last 8 pages Casca would ride through, trample his cabbages and ride off with his daughters...

    There were problems with the series 'bible', obviously.

  3. I think you need one more button on your Reactions feature. One that says "Great".

  4. I remember reading just about all of the Casca series while a Marine on float on WestPac. We loved that series, Mack Bolan and the Executioner. Casca was our favorite, sitting on the flight deck awaiting your launch, talking about the books and the historic accuracy or liberties taken in the books. I never knew about an Audio Book version, that would have been very nice to listen to, while flying the "starboard delta pattern" during flt ops.

  5. Great reading on an FTX...

    So what ya reading.....

    Its about the dude who stabbed jesus and was condemed to be a leg forever.