Why America's World War II Army Rangers Were so Feared and Respected
After an unimpressive first 10 days, according to a British instructor, the fledgling Rangers âgot with it.â They mastered a tough assault course, crawled across rope bridges, scaled cliffs, and paddled across the lochs while instructors fired machine guns at them. They learned to kill with a twist of rope, a knife, or their boots or bare hands. They trained to fire a weapon accurately on the run, build shelters from tree boughs, and to butcher and cook a doe in the woods. Some trainees even cooked and ate rats. Most important, the Rangers learned the value of stealth and surprise in combat. The Commando training was rigorous and realistic (40 recruits were killed at Achnacarry during the war).
George Kerchner, Army Ranger who led D-Day attack on German gun positions atop the Pointe du Hoc cliffs, dies at 93
George Kerchner, a junior officer who led his Army Ranger company up the Pointe du Hoc cliffs during the Normandy invasion and to silence German big guns that threatened the success of the D-Day landings, has passed away at 93. The mission, under the command of Lt. Col. James E. Rudder, was viewed as near-suicide. In an oft-quoted line, attributed to an intelligence officer, Rudder was warned of the 100-foot ascent up Pointe du Hoc that "it can't be done. Three old women with brooms could keep the Rangers from climbing that cliff." Pointe du Hoc held crucial strategic importance because, according to military reports, the Germans had stationed there six 155mm guns.
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Rudder: From Leader to Legend by Thomas M. Hatfield (book review)
"Rudder: From Leader to Legend," a biography of the WWII hero General James Earl Rudder - who later put Texas A&M University on its path to prominence - will be formally unveiled during campus ceremonies on Texas A&M University on March 24. Rudder led the U.S. Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion up the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on France's Normandy Beach on D-Day.
"Tracking Rudder from Texas to Britain, across France, and into Germany was high adventure. To uncover the truth, I walked the ground in every place that was significant in his entire life... and I read virtually every related document I could find," explained author Thomas M. Hatfield, who is expected to attend the ceremonies.
Legendary U.S. Army Ranger Leonard Lomell, who saved the Allied D-Day invasion with his feats at Pointe du Hoc, dies
The word 'legendary' may be overused, but in this case it truly is the proper word to use.
Leonard G. "Bud" Lomell, a legendary United States Army Ranger, has passed away at the age of 91. On June 6, 1944, 2nd Ranger Battalion landed on the beaches of Normandy below Pointe du Hoc, from which German artillery could dominate American landing beaches. The Rangers climbed the 100-foot cliff as German troops fired down on them. First Sergeant Lomell and Staff Sergeant Jack Kuhn formed a partol which located the German's artillery and destroyed the guns - just minutes before the Allied landings were set to begin. For this feat he earned a Distinguished Service Cross.
And if that wasn't enough, just 6 months later - during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought - he was granted a Silver Star for his valor as the 2nd Ranger Battalion seized and held Hill 400.
Pointe-du-Hoc memorial: US to spend millions restoring legendary D-Day landmark
The US is leading a campaign to stop erosion from destroying the clifftop of Pointe-du-Hoc on Normandy coast, an area that has become sacred ground for the American sacrifices of June 6, 1944. New efforts are being extended to stabilize the cliff, on top of which sits a monument and a Nazi bunker. Decades of tides, rain and wind dug deep into the rock forced the Pointe-du-Hoc memorial to be closed in 2000. However, the memorial site should reopen in 2011. Historian Stephane Simonet, of the Caen Peace Museum, called it a memorial to American valor, as just 90 of the 225 Rangers survived attacking the insurmountable cliff.
U.S. Army Ranger Robert Prince: the assault force commander of the Great Raid
Army Ranger Robert Prince, who as a captain in World War Two was the assault force commander of the daring mission to liberate Allied POWs that became known as "The Great Raid," passed away aged 89. Prince was only 25 when he was hand-picked by Lt. Col. Henry Mucci to lead 120 Rangers of the 6th Ranger Battalion, Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerillas to rescue POWs from a Japanese prison camp near Cabanatuan. The victorious Jan. 30, 1945 mission, depicted in a film "The Great Raid (2005)" was announced across the U.S., but the Rangers' moment in history faded from the public eye with the invasion of Iwo Jima a month later.
World War II ranger Leo Strausbaugh joins Army Ranger Hall of Fame
When first approached about volunteering for a new Ranger Battalion during WWII, Leo Strausbaugh - whose mule pack battery in the 98th Field Artillery Battalion had just been disbanded - said he didn't know what being a Ranger meant. "I thought 'Hell, I am going to try out the Rangers.' I did and I am glad I did. The camaraderie of it is worth a lot." Ranger units and regimental associations nominate a maximum of 3 Rangers per year for induction into the Hall of Fame. Each candidate must be a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School and must have served in a Ranger unit in combat.
Joseph Fineberg was with the legendary "Darby's Rangers" (Article no longer available from the original source)
When Army Capt. Joseph N. Fineberg traveled back to Philly on a 21-day leave in May 1944, the 2500 block of North Corlies Street went wild. American flags fluttered from the windows; a huge banner read "Welcome Home." Joe was embarrassed by the attention, and uniformed soldiers who had not yet tasted the sting of battle plied him for tips. Joe was a bona fide war hero, receiving 3 battlefield commissions as an Army Ranger and the Bronze Star for valor. He was with the "Darby's Rangers" in the Italian campaign. Life ran a story about him in July 1944, and his exploits were written in books and the 1958 film "Darby's Rangers" included a character based on him.
Army Ranger who helped plan 1944 D-Day invasion dies
Russell "Ranger Russ" Worman, an Army Ranger who helped plan the Normandy invasion of WWII, died at 82. In Dec 1943, he was sent to England, where he trained for 4 months with British commandos, studying intelligence, map-reading and booby-trap rigging. Then he spent two months poring over photos and models of the landing area. Working in General Dwight D. Eisenhower's office, he helped plan Operation Overlord. Eisenhower had a nickname for him: "the young Ranger with a big cigar." With the elite 2nd Ranger Battalion he landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, as part of the first wave of Allied soldiers invading Normandy on D-Day.
2nd Ranger Battalion - Cliffs west of Omaha Beach on D-Day (Article no longer available from the original source)
O'Keefe was with the Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion. He and 225 Rangers used grappling hooks to scale 100-foot cliffs west of Omaha Beach on 1944 D-Day. They climbed with strength through a storm of grenades and withering enemy fire to take the high ground at Pointe du Hoc and eliminate German artillery batteries. Only 90 of the Rangers survived the assault. He travelled back to Normandy 3 times and met with presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton during the 40th, 50th and 60th D-Day anniversary ceremonies. He never made a fuss about his military service, other than attending reunions and funerals of fellow Rangers.
Army Rangers: an elite fighting force - first invasion forces
Army Rangers were a small, elite fighting force referred to as "spearheaders" for being the first invasion forces on beaches. On D-Day the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions stormed ashore at Normandy. There were 16 million Americans in uniform during World War II, and 8.3 million of them were in the Army. The six Ranger Battalions totaled 3,000 men; replacements raised that figure to 7,000. The 5th Rangers were diverted to Omaha Beach on D-Day when Lt. Col. Max Schneider did not receive the code word to land at Pointe du Hoc. 2nd Rangers were to scale the cliffs and destroy the heavy German guns that could rake the Omaha Beach and annihilate the invasion force.
Rangers Battalion played heroic role in camp liberation
By the end of Jan 1945, as Allied forces advanced against Japanese positions, the writing was on the wall for any Japanese military leader who cared to read it. But as US forces neared PoW camps, it became more dangerous for the men. That fact was shown at Palawan when more than 150 Allied POWs were herded into air raid shelters, doused with gasoline and burned alive to prevent them from being liberated. Concerns grew about the 512 survivors of the Bataan Death March. A daring raid by an volunteer force consisting of 120 members of 6th Ranger Battalion, a dozen Alamo Scouts and more than 200 Filipino guerrillas was formed to rescue the POWs.
Reunion of World War II Rangers
Historians argue whether the demise of Darbys Rangers was the result of faulty intelligence and poor planning on their mission to capture Cisterna, or was due to the German General Field Marshal Albert Kesselrings strategic deployment of forces. But the fight that ensued was the end of 3 battalions of untested replacements and battle-hardened veterans, most of whom had spearheaded invasions and fought their way through Africa, Sicily and Italy. Only a handful of men from the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions escaped after an overwhelming force of German soldiers equipped with mortars and tanks surrounded them.