Monday, May 13, 2013

Army Rangers: Thoughts and History of the Crest and Beret

The Rangers of the US Army are clearly one of the finest fighting forces in the world, and is a unit and concept almost uniquely American, with its genesis well before American independence, even unto the days when the colonies were barely established and before they achieved any sense of cohesion.  Despite the viability of the idea, the main nemesis that it has fought for its identity and survival has never been an enemy on the battlefield, but has instead been its parent Army.  It is an axiom that large organizations abhor elites and that applies doubly so to the military, and examples abound in the ebb and flow of the history of the Rangers.  (I am not too fond of the term 'elite'; I prefer 'specialized' – maybe it's just my Marine background.)

I admittedly come at this topic from a tangent, as my primary experience with them was during my time in the US Marines, and that in the early 1970s, taking advantage of cross-training opportunities.  Since then, I am proud to have one of my sons as a member of that august body of warriors and he patiently keeps me up to date (to the limits of my comprehension and clearance) about the Rangers of today.  The distinctions between then and now have been considerable.

Drawing on my recollections, I mentioned to him toward the beginning of his training about the earlier crest (or shield, or coat of arms, or distinctive unit insignia, or most properly the escutcheon) of the Rangers, and how I noticed that it had changed since 'my time'.  I sought to look up what I remembered the crest to be and discovered that its image has been strangely cleansed from the internet.

I set my mind to look for an example and fortunately discovered one finally in a fine military surplus store in downtown Seattle.  My snapshot for posterity:


This is the image that I tried to convey to him and I was glad to have found it, reinforcing again that some of the early memories of my military experience were not the delusions of early-onset dementia (e.g., yes, there used to be numbered companies at Airborne School when I attended).  This earlier design reflected quite nicely an encapsulated history of the Rangers and an attitude of embracing our entire American history.  Those days are woefully gone in this Politically Correct age.  But before I move on to the current Ranger crest, first allow me an explanation of the old one.  (And here are two obscure examples discovered after some degree of searching):

Early versions of the Ranger unit crest and flash

The upper left quadrant contains a hatchet and powder horn against a green background, which symbolizes the early beginnings of the Rangers.  Seventeenth-century European colonists in the region of New England and Virginia formed militia units that allied themselves with friendly Indian tribes, for the purpose of protection against other hostile Indians.  In modern parlance, these units would conduct patrols and reprisals through  wilderness areas – 'range' – on counter-reconnaissance or direct action missions, incorporating tactics and techniques acquired from their Indian allies, beginning in general in reaction to the Indian Massacre of 1622 in Virginia.  Early commanders of Ranger units, fighting in a series of engagements and campaigns collectively called the French and Indian Wars, were Benjamin Church, John Lovewell, and John Gorham (all serving well prior to the Revolution) but most famous to the present-day Rangers was Robert Rogers, the one most responsible for establishing a standard for such units.  These were written originally in 28 rules, now converted to the 19 Standing Orders of the Ranger Creed.  (For some inexplicable reason, the newer creed is rendered in some faux-hick dialect, e.g.: "Don't forget nothing.")  Rogers is considered the father of the modern Rangers, though the fact that he later served on the side of the British during the Revolutionary War is a delicate point often quietly overlooked.

Robert Rogers

In contrast, another Ranger of note at the time was Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of South Carolina, and arguably Daniel Morgan of Virginia, who were very much the American patriots and scourge of the British.  The green background also commemorates Ethan Allen of the Vermont 'Green Mountain Boys', who successfully fought against the British and New York.  (Let me hasten to add that Marines can appreciate the Green Mountain Boys for no other reason than the fact that they, like the Leathernecks, began in a bar.)  It can even be said that George Washington could be included in the list of early Rangers for his experience as a major in the Virginia militia, conducting joint Virginia/Iroquois expeditions against French incursions in the Ohio Country in 1753 and 1754.

The hatchet, or tomahawk, is also an unfortunately delicate point as well although two of Rogers' 19 orders speak of it.  A very useful tool, if not a fairly effective weapon in dire circumstances, it has become a lamentably symbolic token, with the Left and the press (but I repeat myself) always ready to conjure images of savages taking scalps.  During the Viet Nam War, coincident with the Golden Age of Aquarius and demonstrations/riots, a Lt Col Hank Emerson (later a successful and popular lieutenant general), commander of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Airborne Infantry, solicited the sobriquet of "Hatchet Hank" Emerson by issuing hatchets to his troops.  Stories quickly surfaced and were printed – never substantiated – about enemy bodies being mutilated (like the fictional quote about the "village that was destroyed in order to save it").  General Westmoreland immediately secured their use, and Hatchet Hank quickly changed his nickname to "Gunslinger".  (Early versions of Rogers' Standing Orders had a twentieth order: "Don't use your musket if you can kill 'em with your hatchet."  That seems to have been misplaced at about the same time.)

[Aside:  I carried a hatchet anyway, discreetly secured to my ruck with an official World War II, GI-issued hatchet carrier.  In thick jungle and forest, I found that there usually wasn't enough room to effectively swing a machete.  I used the hatchet and heavy duty hand pruners much more effectively to cut through the foliage and flora and to set up expedient camouflage, and they were easier to carry.]

Colonel John S Mosby, CSA

The Confederate battle flag in the upper right commemorates the contribution of primarily Colonel John Singleton Mosby of Virginia, credited with continuing contemporary Ranger tactics in the area of northern Virginia throughout the Civil War.  He dominated the area with his 43rd Cavalry Battalion through raids and partisan warfare so thoroughly that the area came to be known as "Mosby's Confederacy".  The other official Confederate Ranger unit, McNeill's Rangers (E Company, 18th Virginia Cavalry) was led by Captain John H McNeill and then his son Captain Jesse C McNeill.  Other such leaders can include the brilliant, controversial and maligned Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who despite a lack of formal education was still quite literate.  His famous dictum was actually to "get there first with the most men", not the blithering nonsense printed in a New York newspaper.


The battle flag also represents such famous units as Terry's Texas Rangers (8th Texas Cavalry), credited with its ability to lay down more firepower than any other unit in its lightening raids.  (Rangers in the early Republic of Texas developed independently from their American cousins but for similar reasons – defense against and pursuit of Indian raiding parties, bandits, and Mexican incursions.  The Texas Rangers often operated as ad hoc posses before becoming formalized as one of the most famous law enforcement agencies in the world.)  An equestrian statue of one of Terry's Texas Rangers is set on the grounds at the Texas Capitol in Austin (which, appropriately enough, is larger than the US Capitol in Washington, DC).

The spearhead at the bottom of the old crest represents the Rangers of World War II, organized into six independent battalions with the first five fighting in the European theatre and the 6th in the Pacific, as well as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), the famous Merrill's Marauders which fought in Burma.  This was the first return to a Ranger concept since the Civil War.

Lt Col William O Darby, father of the Ranger Battalions of World War II, as CO 1st Battalion outside Arzew, Algeria

It was the 2nd Ranger Battalion (-) led by Lt Col Earl Rudder that attacked up the cliffs of the Pointe du Hoc of Normandy on D-Day (I was privileged to know Rudder years later when he was President of Texas A&M.)   The 5th Ranger Battalion, along with two companies of the 2nd, was on their left flank and tied in with the 116th Infantry of the 29th Infantry Division (the Blue and Grey), and thus together took the brutal brunt of the first wave to hit Omaha Beach.  The units on the beach were pinned down by murderous fire until elements of the 5th started picking their way up and through the German lines.  After Brig Gen Norman Cota of the 29th, noting the beginnings of some progress out of the slaughterhouse, asked the 5th's CO, Lt Col Max Schneider, what unit he was with, Cota responded with an imprecation and blurted the famous line "Well, God damn it, if you're Rangers, lead the way!"  It was more of an invitation than a command, but Schneider's troops made good on the effort and are credited with breaking the bloody hold at Omaha Beach.  A truncated version of Cota's exclamation is one of the mottos of the Rangers, now rendered as a declaration.

The 1st, 3rd and 4th Battalions were spearheads in the Americans' first operations in North Africa and then into Italy, and distinguished themselves at such battles as Dieppe, Arzew, Djebel el Ank (Orbata), Salerno and Anzio up until the point where they were caught in a massive and masterful ambush at Cisterna.  The 6th was the only unit assigned to the Pacific theatre, was the first ashore at Luzon and later liberated the Japanese POW Camp at Cabanatuan in a daring raid.

Brigadier General Frank Merrill with Nisei troops

Merrill's Marauders, a completely separate unit but now considered part of the modern Ranger ancestry, operated as an independent regiment-sized unit in association with Chinese troops, and was essentially heavily armed light infantry supported by pack mules.  They moved and fought brilliantly through hundreds of miles of Burmese jungles, finally spending themselves in the almost pyrrhic victory at the Japanese air base at Myitkyina.

The Rangers were shut down after World War II but companies were temporarily stood up during the Korean War, and later Ranger-like Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs, pronounced 'lerps') were used in Viet Nam.  After 1969 the LRRPs were re-designated as Ranger companies but quickly began de-mobilizing as the Americans drew down from that war. 

Up until then, this was a standard reaction of the Army – reluctantly yield to creating Ranger units in time of war (apparently FDR himself had a hand in convincing the Army of World War II), but demobilize them as soon as possible thereafter.  But by the mid-1970s, after the end of our formal involvement in South Viet Nam (and the collapse of that country after Congress withheld promised support during the third major NVA assault on the South), Ranger battalions began being established.  This turn-around in the attitude of the "Big Army" was partly to overcome the discrepancies in the command structure that was felt with the use (or misuse) of Special Forces in Viet Nam.  (To their credit, most SF veterans who I knew at the time agreed about being victims of mission creep.)  Whereas SF units had often been used independently by the CIA and the "Studies and Observation Group" (a more pacific title from the original Special Operations Group), the leadership of the Army afterward, which comprised generals who had been field-grade officers in Viet Nam, wanted a more responsible command structure of special units.  This compromise resulted in standing up permanent Ranger battalions with the cost paid out of the hide of SF units.  (This was relayed to me by a relative, Lt Gen James F Hollingsworth, after his retirement in the late 1970s.  My older brother, having served under "Hollie" in the 2nd Armored Division, was a particular favorite of his.)

The Ranger Regiment was formally established in the mid-1980s with eventually four battalions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Special Troops).  The Regiment took its lineage directly from Merrill's Marauders, and the new crest made its appearance, only slightly modified from the one in World War II.  (The survivors of the 5307th were re-grouped into the 475th Infantry toward the end of the war, later re-designated the 75th Infantry, and eventually the 75th Rangers.)  The sun symbol in the upper left comes from the Nationalist Chinese flag, the lower five-pointed star is not the one used by the US Army at the time but came rather from the same symbol used by the Burmese, a fortunate coincidence.  The lightning bolt was for speed and force.  The battalions of the Unit were designated by color, reflected in the initial four colors of the crest when it was designed.  More battalions, and thus more colors (orange and khaki), came later.  (The gold trim in the insignia was added toward the end of the war as an artistic touch, as the first four colors – blue, green, red, and white – did not fit well together.)

 Modern 75th Ranger Regiment crest

A new motto was added - Sua Sponte - literally "your initiative" but translated officially as "on their own accord", signifying the volunteer aspect of the long pipeline of hard training and their willingness to go in harm's way.  The six colors of the modern 75th Ranger beret flash are taken from the six color-designated battalions of the Marauders, and is worn with the modern crest of the unit. 

 Beret flash for the Ranger Regiment (3rd Battalion)

Ranger School, however, wears a black and gold flash with the Infantry School crest ("Follow Me").

Beret flash for Ranger School cadre

 
As stated above, the old crest as described is no longer evident, yet was present to a great extent in the early 1970s.  As best as I can see, the crest was attributed to the Ranger School, but has apparently been 'cleansed'.  One can imagine that the presence of the Confederate flag was reason enough to expurgate it in today's sensitive political atmosphere, but it is unfortunate that the attitude of reconciliation after the war, extolled by Colonel Mosby and General Forrest themselves, has so eroded.  (Mosby became a Republican after the war and supported the Grant administration.  Forrest, wrongly considered the one who established the Ku Klux Klan, was nevertheless associated with it at first but turned against it when reports of violence surfaced.  He was instrumental in disbanding its first incarnation in 1869.)

To help understand the confusion, it is best to remember that there is a distinction between Ranger School and today's Ranger Regiment.  Despite the ebb and flow of the Rangers after World War II, the Ranger School nevertheless continued to train members of the Army and some of the other services in tactics and techniques.  Graduates were then to return to their parent conventional units and pass on the knowledge.  Training was thus for individual skills, not to provide a pipeline into a Ranger unit, whether one existed at the time or not.  Apparently, that is still the case, and the Ranger School exists as a separate entity from the Ranger Regiment despite their clear overlap.  The Regiment conducts its own induction training, now called RASP (Ranger Assessment and Selection Program), thus graduation from Ranger School does not necessarily constitute being a Ranger; graduation from RASP and assignment to a Ranger Battalion does.

The historic Army attitude that shunned special units could also be applied to distinctive uniforms.  Other countries, such as those in the British Commonwealth, tend to have different headgear (hats, covers) that reflect a tradition within certain units.  Not so within our own Army, until John F Kennedy over-ruled the Army hierarchy and granted the Green Beret to the new Special Forces groups, singling them out as the leaders of the new counter-insurgency approach to warfare that fully blossomed in Viet Nam.  It wasn't long before an interest in berets began to spread in earnest, now that the dam had been breached.  Since a green beret had come to symbolize commando units in a number of European militaries (the British and French certainly), we soon came into line with our European forebears by adopting a 'red' beret (actually more of a maroon color) to symbolize airborne or paratroop units.  These two colored berets were adopted for a sense of esprit d' corps as well as the fact that they were universally recognized. 

The Rangers were certainly a specialized unit though they overlapped the commando and airborne roles, but were more in the nature of shock troops.  (Special Forces, wishing to blend in and win the hearts and minds of the people, will knock lightly on the door.  Rangers will kick it in.)  Starting as far back as Korea, some Rangers started wearing a black beret – unofficially, when they could get away with it – as a reference to their dark nature.  This continued in Viet Nam, though more of an open secret, and it was finally officially approved in 1975 as a distinctively Ranger headgear. 

But by the turn of the century, a controversy brewed up as a result of the decision by the Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki, to extend the wear of the black beret to the entire Army, as a "challenge to excellence", a cheap attempt to pump up morale.  I will not attempt to debate the merits – or lack thereof – of Shinseki's decision, but I will point out that the black beret in international usage has traditionally been associated with armored units.  (Well before World War II, thickly padded black berets were used as protective headgear for British and German tankers knocking around hard, confined spaces.)  In fact, some US armored units started wearing black berets for that same reason in the early 1970s until told to stop once the Ranger decision had been made.  As a sop to the Rangers, who were justifiably bent about the fact that their hard-earned berets were now going to be handed out to every Tom, Dick, and Mary in the Army, a tan beret was substituted as a distinctive emblem for them, with the tan color signifying the buckskin of the early Roger's Rangers.  There was nevertheless a great deal of hubbub that continued and I was surprised that an obvious comparison was overlooked.

Ranger from Special Troops Battalion in tan beret

Though I have never heard it officially explained in this way, if one is to consider the international significance of a tan beret, one would have to consider the fact that the first comparison would be with the nation with which we hold the most important Special Relationship (no matter what Obama may say) – the United Kingdom.  The Special Air Service (SAS) of Britain as well as Australia and New Zealand, perhaps the premier such services in the world, wears a beige beret (tan by any other name) to signify its beginnings in the sands of the Saharan North Africa in World War II.
 
Former CSM of the Ranger Training Brigade

While the earlier Rangers became understandably attached to their black berets, it does make sense, in a strictly objective manner, to stand in positive comparison to the SAS instead of the variety of armored and other uses that the world's military forces assign to the black beret.

Recently, the Army has stepped back its use of the black beret.  It will still be used with the garrison uniform but not the ACU or field uniform.  Instead, the standard and much more functional patrol cap will be used in the field.  Ironically, in the period of the 1950s through the 1970s with the wire-stiffened Ridgeway cap and the later baseball cap in Viet Nam used by conventional units, the patrol cap in its earlier olive drab version was restricted to only the Rangers.

Yet no matter what the uniform accoutremont may be, what matters is the soldier who fills that uniform, and who can always be expected to lead the way.

19 comments:

  1. Damn that's a lot of work! Nice job on this...especially the last paragraph.

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  2. Indeed, thanks for the history lesson. I'm amazed they ever used the Confederate flag, but the tomahawk made good sense and it's a pity they removed it. I never went to ranger school, just as I never went airborne, the latter being required before the former, back in my days of 68-71, but I saw many ranger "tabs" on shoulders, even in the 6th Armored Cavalry. An old Texas friend of mine, surname Brownfield, once commanded the Ranger school and since his two children were girls, and both served, he has supported the inclusion of women in the training. I might add that women also serve in the ranger regiment. I met several of them back in '03, when my old infantry OCS class reunioned at Fort Benning and we discovered that our old barracks was then a home of the one of the regiment's units. One of their women, surnamed (appropriately) Battle, was our escort when we toured the place.

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    1. I might add, gratuitous as it may be, that I have always thought the berets belong on elite units and look pretty stupid on everyone, just like the BDUs look dumb on dentists and clerks. I'm glad to hear the old garrison cap is making a return, though I hope it's not shaped like those ridiculous baseball caps they gave us years ago..

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    2. @Dick: the garrison cap is identical, other than being in the camouflage du jour, to the olive drab Ranger patrol cap of before. Thus the irony of complaints of going from a Ranger beret to an Everyman beret, but the answer being applying a previously restricted Ranger patrol cap to eveybody.

      There's a flip side to the irony as well. I've always liked the idea of a forage cap, a semi- or quasi-official cap for knocking around in the field, the same idea (if not the same appearance)as the forage caps of the Civil War. One such example popped up: taking the idea of the rather unpopular baseball cap from the Viet Nam era (though without the goofy stiffener in front), khaki baseball caps are catching on -- name tape in back, some sort of flag or name badge on front, but my son tells me that it seems to be settling into just the SF community. So, going from a baseball cap for everyone to a baseball cap for the SF.

      You can't make this stuff up.

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  3. It was that goofy stiffener, I seem to recall, that was responsible for the popularity of the "boonie" hat which was, otherwise, pretty goofy looking itself.

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  4. As a former Ranger, I was absolutely disappointed when Army Chief of Staff, General Shinseki allowed the rest of the Army to wear the black beret.

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    1. Shinseki and his staff certainly botched the implementation, and the idea that a beret for everyone would be some sort of quick fix for morale was practically condescending, but I believe that over time a tan beret sets the Rangers apart in a better way.

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    2. HAHAHA I was LIVID! Myself and several other former Rangers turned in our USARA Cards in protest that they didn't do enough to prevent that PC Disaster.

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  6. You are definitely right we did lose the original crest, to be more PC in America. That crest was more true to the heritage and spirit of the Rangers. When I won my Black beret in the mid 70's , it was the proudest day in my life, and is clearly a higher moment than having children. There were many variations of what was being worn around all the many Ranger units in the Army at that time, but the one constant was the 75th INF(AKA) Ranger Regt's. For other ranger out fits dedicated to regular infantry unit there are so many, that we do not have time to discuss them. When I left Ft Stewart, and the 1st Ranger Regt, I was stationed to the 30th INF Regt. and wore the Black with the ranger tab and oval flash with AB wings, later with the 30th unit crest and we were consider elite, and trained those in our perspective units accordingly with the request of our division commanders, Later when Special operation units were devised it all changed again. When I went to Ranger school it was called RIP, Ranger Indoctrination Program, after passing all phases, you could be selected to a Ranger Regt. which still took another year to get your scroll, and officially become a Ranger. Others are Ranger Qualified with there Tab, which by the way was a requirement for all officers, to be Ranger and Airborne Qualed. Now what really grinds my gears and most men who a piece of them selves out there at the Darby Queen and in the swamps of Eglin is our GOD DAMN BERET, and tom this day when you see me march every year in the Memorial Day Parade here at Home, that's what I wear, and it is what I wore when my son graduated at Benning back in 2009, I lead the way for these Men as Muerrill, Darby and Rudder Lead the Way for Me. If you read the Ranger Creed you will understand SUA SPONTE, with more definition than what was given here, but hey is a freaking Marine!!, what did you expect...LOL, joking aside...good job, for a Fancy Pants Marine.

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    1. @Notch Norrup. Ranger School and RIP were two separate things and would NEVER be confused with each other by ANYBODY that had ever gone through them. Nobody goes to Ranger School right away. You get to Bn and from there go to Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP). When I went, 3rd Bat was just forming and since there was no RIP at Benning, I had to go to Ft Stewart/HunterAAF. RIP is JUST as it's title implies. It indoctrinates a cherry Ranger. History, Ranger Creed, 28 Rules, etc. Don't forget loads of PT, Worm Pits, and Push-Ups for ANYTHING (plus one for the Ranger in the sky). They want to make certain you can hang in Bn. If you pass RIP, you then go back to your Bn and maybe get to actual Ranger School in about a year (if your chain of command recommends you for it). Ranger School was nothing next to being locked up in front of Sergeant Major Autrail C. Cobb and reciting the Ranger Creed. HAHAHA Since Ranger School gave the most (I think) Promotion Points, every butter bar fresh out of ROTC wanted to go. So many dropped out/flunked, they started making everybody go to (and pass) Pre-Ranger to make sure you didn't waste everybody's time and Uncle Sam's Money when you went to the actual Ranger School.

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    2. I was assigned to 3d Batt on 3 July 1984, 3 months before activation. Good to see another old timer & plank holder. Excellent article, thank you! Semper Fi to the author. RLTW

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  9. No women in Ranger Regiment, never has been, Mr Stanley is confused. Sorry my earlier longer post got accidentally deleted.

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  11. Nicholas,

    Excellent history. I would add a bit for the sake of REAL RANGER HISTORY. In the early 1980s, we still had Leg Rangers. About 1984, they made everybody get jump qualified. Those that couldn't, couldn't be Rangers any more. There was also a HUGE change in The Ranger Image at the time. Before about 1983, Rangers were looked at basically as misfits. We didn't fit in too well back in garrison. Bar fights, DUI's, etc etc etc. It was a rock-n-roll attitude before then. Put'em in the bush and throw hand grenades at them, and they feel right at home. Nobody liked to be starched, pressed, and spit shined. It was a bad image for 1st SOCOM and the Army in general. We had a Staff Sergeant that got a DUI at Stewart (actually in Savannah). When he got back to base, he signed his .45 out of the Arms Room and drove back to Savannah. He waited for the judge in the parking lot and shot him in the ass. Several guys with severe attitude problems were given the choice of "Ranger or Court Martial".

    So, in about 1983-1984, they started changing things in the Rangers. They wanted to present a new "Professional", "Boy Next Door" image of the Rangers to the world. They pushed out the drunks and brawlers. You weren't allowed to walk out of the barracks wearing a t-shirt that displayed any of the following: drug or sexual references, curse words, or anything else the CQ might deem in bad form. It was so bad that in about 1984, a production company approached The Dept of the Army regarding making a movie about the Rangers in Grenada. Since SFC Highway was a heavy drinker and bar fighter who went to jail in the movie, the Army passed on the offer. The Marines (Navy Dept) didn't have a problem with Gunny Highway, so you got "Heartbreak Ridge" in 1986. That's why Highway, Chuzoo, and the Colonel were all in the Army in Korea (at Heartbreak Ridge). As a side note to the movie. The scene where "Stich" climbs on the roof a repairs the phone line is not quite accurate. I knew the guy that actually did it. He was an artillery forward observer fom the 319th AFAR assigned to one of the Infantry units (503rd, 506th, I can't remember). They were getting shot up from the back of the building they ran into. Radioman got shot in the radio (he wasn't hurt). The FO went out the front (street side) of the building and there was a Bell Telephone Booth right there. He picked up the receiver and there was a dial tone. The only phone number he could remember was for his barracks. The Operator wouldn't let him make a collect call from Grenada, so he used his own credit card (for which he was never reimbursed) and called the CQ. They forwarded him to 82d Abn Div HQ, who then forwarded him to CINCLANT Fleet (Norfolk, VA), who then forwarded him to the USS Independence, at which point he called in an Air Strike on a bunch of guys and a couple of armored vehicles 100ft from him. He got a Bronze Star and his name in the Congressional Record of Operation Urgent Fury. One day of fighting and nine days of drinking on the beach. Every day, a local named Paul would ride his bicycle out to us, and the basket was filled with rum at $1 a bottle. A LOT of the old-timers couldn't take the all-new Rangers.

    But after all the new PC BS, a lot retired. A lot more left for other assignments (so many were quitting that they started calling everybody on hold for assignment "The 4th Ranger Bn"). After almost 12 years in both The Navy and Army, I wound up spending the last few years of my active duty in the 82d Abn Div at Ft Bragg, NC.

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  12. Ok. This is now two years later. I graduated NCO School at Benning in May or June 1970. We could go to Ft. Polk and run a squad or go to Ranger School at Benning then Dahlonega then Eglin AF Base. Upon completion I received a one grade promotion and a Ranger Tab. Ranger School was a leadership school reserved previously for Officers only. We were the first NCO's offered training there as far as I knew. As the relatively new NCO school was more or less modeled after OCS I guess the powers that be felt that NCO's should be allowed to be allowed in Ranger School. I was sent to RVN in October 1970. Assigned to the 23rd Inf. Div (Americal) I applied and was accepted in the LRRP Co. Designated as G Co. 75th Inf. before leading missions I participated in the company training and was sent in-country to the MACV Recondo Training School run by the SF in Nha Trang. I was a leg and as a leg sent to the 23rd which was a leg division. We had black berets which were rarely worn but the metal pin 75th Inf Crest (lightening bolt sun and star) was the one we pinned to our berets. I had never seen the Confederate flag flash or badge. We also wore the red ribbon patch above our Combat patch. Although several times told by Officers to remove it as an unauthorized item for Class A uniforms. the black beret was not authorized to be worn with any uniform. Probably was not authorized until the Ranger Battalions were formed in the early 80's

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