The 75th Ranger Regiment is the US Army’s premier airborne light infantry unit. Specializing in raids and airfield seizures, the Regiment is one of very few units that has been constantly deployed since 9/11, with each Ranger battalion having rotated into a combat zone in the neighborhood of fifteen times each.
After completing Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, and Airborne School, potential Rangers are carefully evaluated in the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, or RASP. RASP identifies which soldiers have the mental fortitude and physical toughness required to serve as a member of this elite unit. Additionally, RASP provides training to these new recruits in critical Ranger tasks. Upon graduation of RASP, new Rangers will most likely be assigned to 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Ranger Battalion. Regimental Headquarters and the Regimental Support Battalion are also co-located at Ft. Benning with 3rd Battalion.
Today’s Ranger Battalions were stood up on the orders of General Creighton Abrams in 1974. As many of you may know, our Army had suffered a great deal and wasn’t looking so great in the Post-Vietnam War years. 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions were created to be a role model for the rest of the Army, a unit where soldiers would be held to extremely high standards, their commanding guidance derived from the Ranger Creed, penned by Command Sergeant Major Neil Gentry. While the Ranger Creed is a way of life in the Regiment, it also provides important guidance to a Ranger whenever there is a question or doubt about what the correct course of action may be. In these difficult times, Rangers will default to the Ranger Creed.
The Ranger Creed
The Rangers are arguably (I’ve debated this with soldiers who served in the Honor Guard in Washington DC) the oldest existing unit in our military. Rangers fought in a number of American conflicts before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, such as the French and Indian War and King Philip’s War. In the Revolutionary War, Francis Marion organized and fought in a Ranger unit against the British. Marion was known as the swamp fox because his men would attack and quickly disappear into the swamps to evade the British military.
Six Ranger Battalions fought in the Second World War. It was during D-Day at Omaha beach that the Rangers came upon their unit motto. During the assault, Colonel Norman Cota asked Major Max Schneider which unit he belonged to. When someone replied that they were 5th Ranger Battalion, Cota replied, “Well, then goddammit, Rangers, lead the way!” Today all Rangers sound off with the unit motto, “Rangers Lead The Way” when saluting an Officer, to which, any Officer worth his salt responds with, “All The Way!”
Rangers also served in the Korean War with distinction, including 2nd Ranger Company, an all African-American company of Rangers. For the first time, Rangers were now Airborne qualified.
In the Vietnam War, there were Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) teams that executed some of the hairiest missions of the war. Penetrating deep into the jungle in their distinctive tiger strip uniforms to conduct reconnaissance, ambushes, and more, these men were later reorganized into Ranger Companies. Despite what the press might have said, our Vietnam era Rangers served with distinction and have plenty to be proud of.
With Rangers reformed after Vietnam in 1974, their next deployment was the failed attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980, known as Desert One. 1st and 2nd Battalion conducted a combat jump into the island nation of Grenada in 1983, where they successfully captured the Point Salines airfield and rescued the American medical students being held on the True Blue facility. 3rd Ranger Battalion was formed shortly after in 1984. In 1989, the entire Regiment jumped into Panama as a part of Operation Just Cause.
Alpha and Bravo Company of 1/75 played a role in Operation Desert Storm while Bravo Company of 3/75 participated in Operation Gothic Serpent, the infamous Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia in 1993.
Following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, 3/75 jumped into Objective Rhino in Afghanistan on October 19th.
3/75 Rangers also jumped into Iraq during the opening salvo of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, participating in the battle of Haditha dam. Today, Rangers deploy regularly in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while Operation Iraqi Freedom has only recently been scaled back, with Rangers having conducted untold thousands of combat operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, one Ranger Battalion always remains on standby while home in the United States, prepared to be recalled for rapid deployment at a moments notice.