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.
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.
Meanwhile, Able, Baker, and Charlie Companies landed along with the 5th Rangers, the 1st Infantry Division, and the 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach. They suffered extremely heavy casualties but were able to complete their D-Day objectives. The 2nd Rangers were later involved in the Battle for Brest and the Battle of Hürtgen Forest where they led the assault on Hill 400, Bergstein.
The 2nd Battalion was deactivated after the war together with the 5th and 6th Battalion.
The 2nd Ranger Battalion Is Reborn
It wasn’t until nearly 30 years later that the 2nd Ranger Battalion would be reborn. Army Chief of Staff, General Creighton Abrams, directed the activation of a second Ranger battalion in the fall of 1973. So, the 2nd Battalion (Ranger), 75th Infantry was activated at Fort Lewis, now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, on October 1, 1974.
In April 1975, the Battalion conducted its first training event and progressed from individual to team, squad, platoon, and company training. The process and culminated with an externally evaluated battalion Army Training and Evaluation Program in December 1975. After that, the battalion was deemed “worldwide deployable.”
In late October 1983, both the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions jumped into Grenada and seized Point Salinas Airfield on the Island of Grenada, during Operation Urgent Fury. Their mission was to rescue American students at the True Blue Medical Campus and defeat the Cuban and local forces. Later, the 2nd Battalion conducted follow-on air assault operations at the Calivigny Barracks eliminating remaining pockets of resistance.
On December 20, 1989, the entire 75th Ranger Regiment participated in Operation Just Cause. The 2nd Battalion with Companies A and B, 3rd Battalion, conducted a parachute assault on the airfield at Rio Hato, neutralized the Panamanian Defense Force 6th and 7th Rifle Companies, and seized General Manuel Noriega’s beach house. Following the successful assaults, the Rangers conducted follow-on special operations in support of Joint Task Force South. The Rangers captured 1,014 enemy prisoners of war (EPW) and over 18,000 weapons of various types. The Rangers’ losses stood at five killed and 42 wounded.
The 2nd Battalion also deployed to Haiti in 1994 and to Panama in 1996 and helped maintain the peace during that time.
Post 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
After the al-Qaeda attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the entire 75th Ranger Regiment has been constantly deployed to support the war on terror.
In March 2002, the 2nd Battalion first went to Afghanistan to conduct raids, air assaults, ambushes, and patrols against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. The battalion redeployed in December and remained until February 2003, making it the longest deployment in the 2nd Battalion’s recent history.
The battalion took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 where it was deployed until 2010. Rangers were always accompanying Army Delta Force operators or Navy SEALs in taking down high-value targets. They continue to deploy on contingency operations across the globe.
SFC Leroy Petry from the 2nd Battalion was awarded the Medal of Honor during the war in Afghanistan.
The 2nd Ranger Battalion is currently one of the few units remaining in Afghanistan and covers the U.S. withdrawal.
Check out our complete Rangers guide for an in-depth look at the 75th Ranger Regiment including how you can join it.