The 2nd Ranger Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment is an integral part of the Army’s premier raid force. It has taken part in some of the most iconic military engagements in recent U.S. history.

There are three Ranger Battalions, the 1st, located at Hunter Army Airfield, GA, the 2nd, located at Joint Base Lewis/McChord, WA, and the 3rd at Fort Benning, GA. 

D-Day and the 2nd Battalion’s Baptism of Fire

The 2nd Ranger Battalion was originally established on April 1, 1943, at Camp Forrest, TN along with the 5th Ranger Battalion, as part of the Army’s plan to form six Ranger battalions. In September 1943 it was shipped to England to prepare for the invasion of Normandy. 

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, three companies, Dog, Easy, and Fox, totaling 225 Rangers, commanded by LTC James Rudder,  were given the task of scaling the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc and silence the battery of six 155mm artillery pieces that would fire on Utah Beach. 

2nd Ranger Battalion WWII helmet
WWII-era steel helmet with the 2nd Ranger Battalion diamond in the middle.

The Rangers were supposed to land from LCA landing craft and specially modified DUKW “Ducks” operated by the Royal Navy. The stormy waters of the English Channel caused one landing craft full of Rangers and equipment to capsize. Several overloaded Rangers drowned while others were pulled into other landing craft to continue the mission. 

But the stormy seas and poor navigation caused the attack to be delayed from 0630 to 0715. The naval gun support which was timed for a 0630 landing, stopped at 0625. This allowed the Germans to recover, regroup, and put heavy fire on the Rangers coming ashore at Pointe du Hoc

Despite the murderous fire raining from above, the Rangers were able to climb the cliffs. Yet, they were astonished to find that the top of the cliffs resembled nothing of the aerial photographs they had studied. The constant Allied bombardment from aircraft and offshore naval warships had devastated the landscape. Then they also realized that the guns had been moved. 

A patrol found and destroyed the five 155mm guns that were there using thermite grenades, the sixth was never found.