|Ranger Battalion Memorial Dedication|
<2> Ranger Battalion Memorial Dedication
On November 7, 2012, I had the honor and privilege to join Rangers from all over the country and all eras with the active duty Army Rangers of 2/75 Ranger Regiment after they recently returned home from their 15th deployment in support on the Global War on Terrorism to dedicate The Pointe du Hoc Foundation Memorial. The Memorial was built adjacent to the battalion's Headquarters.
The memorial is to ensure our Ranger Heroes are not forgotten.. The memorial incorporates the 2D Ranger Battalion scroll, the orange 2-diamond, and the dagger. The obelisk, inscribed with the names of 2D Ranger Battalion's fallen, is placed at the "tip of the dagger". The Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger origins goes all the way back to WWII. The memorial was built to pay tribute to the achievements and sacrifices of the fallen 2D Battalion Rangers. The tip of the dagger is recognized as the highest honor. The orange <2> diamond representing our WWII Rangers honors COL Rudder with his stone being placed at the top of the diamond. When the men of 2D Ranger Battalion assemble the formation, the fallen Rangers will forever be part of the Ranks.
The early weather reports indicated showers, which is not unusual for Washington, however, today the clouds seemed to part and the sun was proudly shining as the Great Ranger In The Sky (GRITS) watched over allowing our Rangers Brothers to watch down upon us. With a slight breeze, it made it a little chilly, but not many thought about the chill as the Rangers and attendees listened to Capt. Stone give a brief history of the memorial, Ranger History and many Ranger achievements since World War II. Several dignitaries were in attendance to include several of the original 2d Battalion Rangers from WW II that scaled the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on June 6th, 1944, under the command of LTC James E. Rudder. Medal of Honor recipient SFC Leroy Petry was also seated amongst several of the Rangers Gold Star Families.
LTC Anderson, the battalion commander gave a brief speech recognizing Rangers past, present and future. LT C Anderson was a 1st platoon leader for A Co back in 1994 when the unit deployed in support of Uphold Democracy. I too had the honor and privilege to serve under him.. LTC Anderson recently took command of the 2D Ranger Battalion prior to its 15th deployment.
COL(r) Okita, chairman of The Pointe du Hoc Foundation, prior commander of 2D Ranger Battalion, spoke briefly about the origins of the foundation and how it came to be. The foundation's board of directors: COL(r) Okita, CSM(r) Rocco, CSM(r) Leon-Guerro, CSM(r) Inman, COL(r) Lisi, Taryn Funcheon provided valuable support in making the memorial possible. More information can be read at: www.pointeduhocfoundation.com
All Rangers and guests in attendance were treated with a few words from LTC Rudder's daughter, Mrs. Anne Rudder Erdman. Although she indicated she was honored to speak, it appeared as though all attendees were the ones honored. Mrs. Rudder Erdman was presented with a rare print signed and numbered by MOH Recipient SFC Leroy Petry.
Wreaths were placed at the spear of the memorial recognizing the different eras of Rangers. Most notably the WWII wreath placed by Ranger Magnan, the grandson of a WWII Ranger. Rangers in attendance were asked to stand to be recognized for their service during these different conflicts. Each era recognized from WWII to the present had a veteran Ranger in attendance. Although there were several WWII Rangers present, they were difficult to catch up with as they were always on the move, or surrounded by the many other Rangers wanting to meet them. One Ranger legend however, George Klein was still there shaking hands and taking pictures well after other attendees had left. I had the opportunity to meet Ranger Klein briefly as he tried to take a break before moving on again. Ranger Klein flew in from Chicago to be a part of the dedication.
The ceremony was wrapped up by Capt. Stone asking all Rangers to stand and participate in the reciting of the Ranger Creed. CSM Theis started the creed and all Rangers followed loud and thunderously. One could feel the resonating voices as they echoed off the buildings and tents drowning out the helicopters flying by. It's been a long time since reciting the creed in this fashion and still today it makes me proud and honored to be able to stand with these warriors.
As everyone started to walk around, I had the opportunity to introduce my family to SFC Petry. I had the opportunity to meet him a few years back and with all the hand shaking and people he has met over the years, I was humbled he remembered. My kids will have a memory forever as SFC Petry knelt down to take a picture with them.
Rangers and guests were invited to lunch and the ability to tour the new 2D BN compound. Many Rangers including me had not been back since the old barracks were demolished. The "Ranger Compound" was made up of four buildings with a large grass field in between known as the "quad". The four buildings that used to stand were no longer there. I have been back to visit a few times, but almost didn't recognize the place if it hadn't been for Noble Hill and the airfield. The new buildings now occupy the location of the old A Co and C Co. In fact driving on post, I turned down one of the roads taking a short cut, so I thought. At the other end, the road was blocked with traffic redirected to another area. As I drove back the other direction it was obvious other Rangers had the same thought as they too were now turning around.
The Ranger Dining Facility, is now across the street from the old A Co gate, and the road blocked toward Noble Hill. The dining facility houses an impressive kitchen. The facility rivals most any restaurant. I stood in line with my family behind some young Rangers. My son in awe kept saying, "there's a Ranger". One of the Rangers turned around looking down to acknowledge my son and introduced himself. The menu selection: prime rib, lobster tail, King crab legs, stuffed chicken and more. The main selection was complimented by a salad bar, vegetable bar and dessert island. My daughter with a big smile on her face grabbed one of the crab legs as long as her arm. Pictures, prints, and televisions surrounded the walls within the dining facility. One thing I noticed that hasn't changed is the cooks are still wearing their black baseball hats.
After lunch we toured the buildings. Rangers were set up in the company area providing tours and displaying many of the unit toys. It was amazing to see these professional, patient, young men as they talked with kids, parents, and guests. My son walked up to one of the vehicles as a Ranger said, "Go ahead get in there, get up on the fifty." Wrong thing to say to my son cause he actually started climbing up there. Behind the company area is the Ranger's large world class gym. One cannot forget the obstacle course outside the apartment style barracks. I saw several of the pictures that used to be in the A Co bar were now hanging on the wall inside the company AO. The murals that had been painted on the walls did not survive the demo, instead photos had been taken and were hanging on the walls. I was impressed to see the Black Sheep are still carrying on the tradition. Although the new company AO's have changed there are still many pictures in which they tried to preserve showing old friends as well as the continued heritage of the Rangers. There is not a day that goes by without the memories of the fallen as each company provides a tribute to each within the halls.
These active duty Rangers are true professionals that are able to adapt and overcome. This deployment we lost a Ranger Brother and others were wounded, however, they still stood tall for over an hour during the dedication and then continued to hang out around the area shaking hands and interacting with all who attended.
After nearly six hours catching up with old friends, meeting new friends, eating great food, and touring this world class facility it was time to leave. As I passed a group of young Rangers near 'Noble Hill', I asked them if the hill was still a lot of fun? In response they all smiled and said, "Oh yeah!" For many Noble Hill brings back a lot of memories.
I am still proud of my Ranger Heritage and it was an honor to meet these great warriors; 'Heroes'. RLTW!