The history of Rangers in the US Army dates back to pre-revolutionary times when units specifically designated as Rangers and using Ranger tactics were employed on the American frontier. This was as early as 1670. Among these were the Rangers of Captain Benjamin Church who brought the Indian Conflict known as "King Phillip's War" to a successful conclusion in 1675.
Rangers were organized in 1756 by Major Robert Rogers, a native of New Hampshire, who recruited 9 companies of American colonists to fight for the British during the French and Indian War. Ranger techniques and methods of operation were an inherent characteristic of the American frontiersmen. However, Major Rogers was the first to capitalize on them and incorporate them into the fighting doctrine of a permanently organized fighting force. In the French and Indian War (1754-1763), Robert Rogers developed the Ranger concept to an extent never known before. A soldier from boyhood, Rogers published a list of 28 common sense rules, and a set of standing orders stressing operational readiness, security, and tactics.
Rogers established a training program in which he personally supervised the application of his rules. In June 1758, Robert Rogers was conducting live-fire training exercises. His operations were characterized by solid preparation and bold movements. When other units were bivouacked in winter quarters, Rangers moved against the French and Indians by the use of snowshoes, sleds, and even ice skates. In a time when the English colonists were struggling, Roger's Rangers carried the war to the enemy by scouting parties and raids. His most famous expedition was a daring raid against the fierce Abenaki Indians. With a force of 200 Rangers, traveling by boat and over land, Rogers covered 400 miles in about 60 days. Penetrating deep into enemy territory, and despite losses en route, the Rangers attacked and destroyed the Indian settlement and killed several hundred Indians. The Abenaki were no longer a threat. Rangers continued to patrol the border and defend the colonists against sporadic Indian attacks for the next decade.
On 14 June 1775, with war on the horizon, the Continental Congress resolved that "six companies of expert riflemen be immediately raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia." In 1777, this force of hardy frontiersmen provided the leadership and experiences necessary to form, under Dan Morgan, the organization George Washington called "The Corps of Rangers". Also active during the Revolutionary War were Thomas Knowlton's Connecticut Rangers. This force of less than 150 hand-picked men was used primarily for reconnaissance. Knowlton was killed leading his men in action at Harlem Heights.
Also during the American Revolution there was Francis Marion, who terrorized the entire British Army in South Carolina, striking with swiftness, and then vanishing ghost-like into the swamps. Born near Georgetown, South Carolina, Marion was for years a peaceful farmer. When the Cherokees began their massacres he began his fighting career, learning the Indian techniques of surprise attack and sudden disappearance, how to use swamps and forests as cover. Thus when England sent a vast fleet to capture Charleston, Marion was already an accomplished strategist. From a tiny, unfinished island fort he defied a total of 50 warships. He and his men crippled the entire British fleet and saved the city, though they lacked adequate ammunition, achieving the first important victory of the American Revolution. When Charleston fell to the enemy, Marion escaped and formed Marion's Brigade, 150 tattered, penniless patriots. None received pay, food or even ammunition from the Continental Army. Marion was later dubbed the "Swamp Fox" for his fighting style.
The best known Rangers of the Civil War period were commanded by the Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby. Mosby's Rangers operated behind Union limes south of the Potomac. From a 3-man scout unit in 1862, Mosby's force grew to an operation of 8 companies of Rangers by 1865. He believed that by the use of aggressive action and surprise assaults, he would compel the Union forces to guard a hundred points at one time. Then, by skillful reconnaissance, he could locate one of the weakest points and attack it, assured of victory. On his raids, Mosby employed small members, usually 20 to 50 men. With 9 men, he once attacked and routed an entire Union regiment in its bivouac. Equally skillful were the Rangers under the command of Colonel Turner Ashby, a Virginian widely known for his daring. The Rangers of Ashby and Mosby did great service for the Confederacy. Specialists in scouting, harassing, and raiding, they were a constant threat and kept large numbers of Union troops occupied. Rangers who fought for the United States during the Civil War should also be mentioned. Mean's Rangers captured Confederate General Longstreet's ammunition train, and even succeeded in engaging and capturing a portion of Colonel Mosby's force.
By the time of American intervention in World War II, both the Axis powers and the Allies had already used special operations with some success. In 1940 German airborne commandos seized the "impregnable" fortress of Eben Emael, the key to the Belgian defense system. With America's entry into the Second World War, Rangers came forth to add to the pages of history. Major General Lucian K. Truscott, US Army Liaison with the British General Staff, submitted proposals to General George Marshal that "we undertake immediately an American unit along the lines of the British Commandos" on 26 May 1942. A cable from the War Department quickly followed to Truscott and Major General Russell P. Hartle, commanding all Army Forces in Northern Ireland, authorizing the activation of the first US Army Ranger Battalion. The name Ranger was selected by General Truscott "because the name Commandos rightfully belonged to the British, and we sought a name more typically American."
Captain William Orlando Darby, a graduate of West Point with amphibious training, was promoted to major, and organized the unit within a few weeks after receiving his assignment. Thousands of applicants from the 1st Armored Division and the 34th Infantry Division and other units in Northern Ireland were interviewed by his hand-picked officers, and after a strenuous weeding out program at Carrickfergus, the 1st Ranger Battalion was officially activated there on 19 June 1942.
More rugged and realistic training with live ammunition was in store for the Rangers at the famed Commando Training Center at Achnacarry, Scotland. Coached, prodded and challenged by the battle-seasoned Commando instructors, commanded by Colonel Charles Vaughan, the Rangers learned the rudiments of Commando warfare. Five hundred of the 600 volunteers that Darby brought with him to Achnacarry survived the Commando training with flying colors, although one Ranger was killed and several wounded by live fire.
Meanwhile 44 enlisted men and 5 officers took part in the Dieppe Raid sprinkled among the Canadians and the British Commandos, the first American ground soldiers to see action against the Germans in occupied Europe. Three Rangers were killed, several captured and all won the commendation and esteem of the Commandos.
Under the leadership of Darby, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, the 1st Ranger Battalion spearheaded the North African Invasion at the Port of Arzew, Algeria by a silent night landing, silenced 2 gun batteries, and opened the way for the 1st Infantry Division to capture Oran. Later in Tunisia the 1st Battalion executed the first Ranger behind-the-lines night raid at Sened, killing a large number of defenders and taking 10 prisoners with only one Ranger killed and ten wounded.
On 31 March 1943, the 1st Ranger Battalion led General Patton's drive to capture the heights of El Guettar with a 12 mile night march across mountainous terrain, surprising the enemy positions from the rear. By dawn the Rangers swooped down on the surprised Italians, cleared the El Guettar Pass and captured 200 prisoners. For this action the 1st Ranger Battalion won its first Presidential Citation and Darby won his first DSC.
After Tunisia, the 3rd and 4th Ranger Battalions with the 1st Battalion as cadre were activated and trained by Darby for the invasion of Sicily at Nemours, Algeria in April 1943. Major Herman Dammer assumed command of the 3rd Ranger Battalion, Major Roy Murray the 4th Ranger Battalion, and Darby remained commanding officer of the 1st Ranger Battalion, but in effect was in command of what became known as Darby Rangers. The 3 Ranger units spearheaded the Seventh Army landing at Gela and Licata and played a key role in the Sicilian campaign that culminated in the capture of Messina.
The 3 Battalions were the first Fifth Army troops to land during the Italian Invasion near Salerno. They quickly seized the strategic heights on both sides of Chinuzi Pass and fought off 8 German counterattacks, winning 2 Distinguished Unit Citations. It was there that Colonel Darby commanded a force of over 10,000 troops, elements of the 36th Division, several companies of the 82nd Airborne Division and artillery elements, and it was here that the Fifth Army advance against Naples was launched with the British X Corps.
All 3 Ranger units later fought in the bitter winter mountain fighting near San Pietro, Venafro and Cassino. Then after a short period of rest, reorganizing and recruiting new volunteers, the 3 Ranger Battalions, reinforced with the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, the 83rd Chemical Warfare, 4.2 Mortar Battalion and 36th Combat Engineers, were designated as the 6615th Ranger Force under the command of Darby who was finally promoted to a full Colonel. This Force spearheaded the surprise night landings at the Port of Anzio, captured two gun batteries, seized the city and struck out to enlarge the beachhead before dawn-a classic Ranger operation.
On the night of 30 January 1944, the 1st and 3rd Battalions infiltrated 5 miles behind the German Lines while the 4th Battalion fought to clear the road toward Cisterna, a key Fifth Army objective. Preparing for a massive counterattack, the Germans had reinforced their lines the night before, and both the 1st and 3rd Battalions were surrounded and greatly outnumbered. The Rangers inflicted many casualties, but ammunition and time ran out, and all along the beachhead front supporting troops could not break through the strong German positions. The loss of the 1st and 3rd Battalions combined with the heavy casualties the 4th Battalion sustained, however, was not entirely in vain, for later intelligence revealed that the Ranger-led attack on Cisterna had helped spike the planned German counterattack.
The 2nd Ranger Battalion, activated on 1 April 1943, at Camp Forrest, Tennessee trained and led by Lieutenant Colonel James Earl Rudder, carried out the most dangerous mission of the entire Omaha Beach landings, in Normandy, France on 6 June 1944. Three companies, D, E, and F, assaulted the perpendicular cliffs of Point Du Hoc under intense machine-gun, mortar and artillery fire and destroyed a large gun battery that would have wreaked havoc on the Allied fleets offshore. For two days and nights they fought without relief until the 5th Ranger Battalion linked up with them. Later with the 5th Battalion, the 2nd Ranger Battalion played a key role in the attacks against the German fortifications around Brest in the La Coquet Peninsular. This unit fought through the Central Europe campaign and won commendations for its heroic actions in the battle of Hill 400. The 2nd Ranger Battalion earned the Distinguished Unit Citation and the Croix de Guerre and was inactivated at Camp Patrick Henry on 23 October 1945.
The 5th Ranger Battalion was activated on 1 September 1943 at Camp Forrest, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Max Schneider, former executive officer of the 4th Ranger Battalion, and was part of the provisional Ranger Assault Force commanded by Colonel Rudder. It landed on Omaha Beach with 3 companies of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, A, B and C, where elements of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division were pinned down by murderous cross fire and mortars from the heights above. It was there that the situation was so critical that General Omar Bradley was seriously considering redirecting reinforcements to other areas of the beachhead. It was then and there that General Norman D. Cota, Assistant Division Commander of the 29th Division, gave the now famous order that has become the Motto of the 75th Ranger Regiment: "Rangers, Lead The Way!" The 5th Battalion Rangers broke across the sea wall and barbed wire entanglements, and up the pillbox-rimmed heights under intense enemy machine-gun and mortar fire and with A and B Companies of the 2nd Battalion and some elements of the 116th Infantry Regiment, advanced 4 miles to the key town of Vierville, thus opening the breach for supporting troops to follow-up and expand the beachhead. Meanwhile, C Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, due to rough seas, landed west of the Vierville draw and suffered 50 percent casualties during the landing, but still scaled a 90 foot cliff using ropes and bayonets to knock out a formidable enemy position that was sweeping the beach with deadly fire.
The 5th Battalion, with elements of the 116th Regiment, finally linked up with the beleaguered 2nd Battalion on D+3, although Lieutenant Charles Parker of A Company, 5th Battalion, had penetrated deep behind enemy lines on D Day and reached the 2nd Battalion with 20 prisoners. Later, with the 2nd Battalion the unit distinguished itself in the hard-fought battle of Brest. Under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Richard Sullivan the 5th Ranger Battalion took part in the Battle of the Bulge, Huertgen Forest and other tough battles throughout central Europe, winning 2 Distinguished Unit Citations and the French Croix de Guerre. The outfit was deactivated on 22 October 1945 at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.
The 6th Ranger Battalion, commanded by Colonel Henry (Hank) Mucci, was the first American force to return to the Philippines with the mission of destroying coastal defense guns, radio and radar stations on the islands of Dinegat, Suluan offshore Leyte. This was the first mission for the 6th Battalion, which had been activated at Port Moresby, New Guinea in September 1944. Landing 3 days in advance of the main Sixth Army Invasion Force on 17-18 October 1944, they swiftly killed and captured some of the Japanese defenders and destroyed all enemy communications.
The unit took part in the landings of US forces in Luzon, and several behind the lines patrols, penetrations and small unit raids, which served to prime the Rangers for what to become universally known as the greatest and most daring raid in American military history. On 30 January 1944, C Company, supported by a platoon from F Company, struck 30 miles behind enemy lines and rescued 500 emaciated and sickly POWs, survivors of the Bataan Death March. Carrying many of the prisoners on their backs, the Rangers, aided by Filipino guerrillas, killed over 200 of the garrison, evaded 2 Japanese regiments, and reached the safety of American lines the following day. Intelligence reports had indicated the Japanese were planning to kill the prisoners as they withdrew toward Manila. Good recon work by the Philippine Alamo Scouts also contributed to the success of the Cabanatuan Raid led by Colonel Mucci.
The unit, later commanded by Colonel Robert Garrett, played and important role in the capture of Manila and Appari, and was preparing to spearhead the invasion of Japan when news flashed the war with that nation was ended. It received the Presidential Unit Citation and the Philippine Presidential Citation. It was inactivated on 30 December 1945 in the Philippines.
Little is known by the public at large about the Ranger Battalion that was formed with volunteers from the 29th Infantry Division then stationed in England commanded by Major Randolph Milholland, this unit also was trained by the British Commandos at Achnacarry, Scotland, and its highly motivated Rangers, eager for action, had high hopes of operating independently on Commando type missions. After graduating with honors, the unit was attached to Lord Lovat's No. 4 Commando Troop for tactical training and cliff climbing, winning the respect of Lord Lovat and the approval of Brigadier General Norman Cota, who was then chief liaison for Major General Russell Hartle.
The Battalion was formed on 20 December 1942 at Tideworth Barracks, Salsbury Plain, England. At that time, the 1st Ranger Battalion was the only US Ranger battalion in the ETO. It had departed in October 1942 with the 1st Infantry Division for the North Africa Campaign. The directive that activated the Battalion authorized 3 officer's and 15 enlisted soldiers from the 1st Ranger Battalion to form the nucleus, the remaining members of the 29th Provisional Ranger Battalion were volunteers from that Division. Major Milholland, from the 115th Infantry Regiment was given command of this Battalion. By the end of the war Major Milholland would be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and given command of 3rd Battalion, 115th Infantry.
The 29th Provisional Ranger Battalion participated with British commandos in 3 raids of the coast of Norway. The first raid was to destroy a bridge. Elements of the Battalion did go on a raid with the Commandos on an island off the coast of France and acquitted themselves well, killing 3 Germans, and on 20 September 1943, a company moved to Dover to take part in a raid on the Europe continent. The raid was ultimately canceled and later, Headquarters, 29th Infantry Division issued General Orders disbanding the unit on 18 October 1943. Many of the Rangers went back to their former companies in the 29th Infantry Division and fought from D Day to the day the Germans were defeated.
Merrill's Marauders, a Ranger-type outfit, came into existence as a result of the Quebec Conference of August 1943. During this conference, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of England, and other allied leaders conceived the idea of having an American ground unit spearhead the Chinese Army with a Long Range Penetration Mission behind enemy lines in Burma. Its goal would be the destruction of Japanese communications and supply lines and generally to play havoc with enemy forces while an attempt was made to reopen the Burma Road.
A Presidential call for volunteers for "A Dangerous and Hazardous Mission" was issued, and approximately 2,900 American soldiers responded to the call. Officially designated as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) code name "Galahad" the unit later became popularly known as "Merrill's Marauders," named after its leader, Brigadier General Frank Merrill. Organized into combat teams, 2 to each battalion, the Marauder volunteers came from a variety of theatres of operation. Some came from Stateside cadres; some from the jungles of Panama and Trinidad; and the remainder were battle-scarred veterans of Guadalcanal, New Georgia, and New Guinea campaigns. In India some Signal Corps and Air Corps personnel were added, as well as pack troops with mules.
After preliminary training operations undertaken in great secrecy in the jungles of India, about 600 men were detached as a rear echelon headquarters to remain in India to handle the soon-to-be vital air-drop link between the 6 "Marauder" combat teams (400 to a team) and the Air Transport Command. Color-coded Red, White, Blue, Green, Orange and Khaki, the remaining 2,400 Marauders began their march up the Ledo Road and over the outlying ranges of the Himalayan Mountains into Burma. The Marauders, with no tanks or heavy artillery to support them, walked over 1,000 miles throughout extremely dense and almost impenetrable jungles and came out with glory. In 5 major and 30 minor engagements, they defeated the veteran soldiers of the Japanese 18th Division (conquerors of Singapore and Malaya) who vastly outnumbered them. Always moving to the rear of the main forces of the Japanese, they completely disrupted enemy supply and communication lines, and climaxed their behind-the-lines operations with the capture of Myitkina Airfield, the only all-weather airfield in Burma.
For their accomplishments in Burma, the Marauders were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation in July 1944. However, in November 1966, this was redesignated as the Presidential Unit Citation, which was awarded by the President in the name of Congress. The unit was consolidated with the 475th Infantry on 10 August 1944. On 21 June 1954, the 475th was redesignated the 75th Infantry. It was from the redesignation of Merrill's Marauders into the 75th Infantry Regiment that the all the elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment trace their lineage and honors to.
The outbreak of hostilities in Korea in June 1950 again signaled the need for Rangers. Colonel John Gibson Van Houten was selected by the Army Chief of Staff to head the Ranger training program at Fort Benning, Georgia. On 15 September 1950, Colonel Van Houten reported to the Chief of Staff, Office of the Chief of Army Field Forces, Fort Monroe, Virginia. He was informed that training of Ranger-type units was to begin at Fort Benning at the earliest possible date. The target date was 1 October 1950, with a tentative training period of 6 weeks.
The implementing orders called for formation of a headquarters detachment and 4 Ranger Infantry Companies (Airborne). Requests went out for volunteers who were willing to accept "extremely hazardous" duty in the combat zone in the Far East. In the 82nd Airborne Division, it was estimated that as many as 5,000 men (experienced Regular Army Paratroopers) volunteered. Orders were issued and those selected shipped to Fort Benning. The first group arrived on 20 September 1950.
Training began on Monday, 9 October 1950, with 3 companies of airborne qualified personnel. Also on 9 October 1950, another company began training. These were former members of the 505th Airborne Infantry Regiment and the 80th Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division. Initially designated the 4th Ranger Company, they would soon be redesigned the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne), the only Department of the Army authorized, all-black Ranger Unit in the history of the United States.
All volunteers were professional soldiers with many skills who often taught each other. Some of the men had fought with the original Ranger Battalions, The 1st Special Service Force, or the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. Many of the instructors were drawn from this same group. The faces of this select group may have appeared youthful, but these were men highly trained and experienced in Ranger operations during World War II. Training consisted of amphibious and airborne (including low-level night jumps) operations, demolitions, sabotage, close combat, and the use of foreign maps. All American small arms, as well as those used by the enemy, were mastered. Communications, as well as the control of artillery, naval, and aerial fires, were stressed. Much of the training was at night.
The 1st Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) departed from Fort Benning, Georgia on 15 November 1950, and arrived in Korea on 17 December 1950, where it was attached to the 2nd Infantry Division. It was soon followed by the 2nd and 4th Ranger Companies, who arrived on 29 December 1950. The 2nd Ranger Company was attached to the 7th Infantry Division. The 4th Ranger company served both Headquarters, Eighth US Army, and the 1st Cavalry Division.
Throughout the Winter of 1950 and the Spring of 1951, the Rangers went into battle. They were nomadic warriors, attached first to one regiment and then another. They performed "out-front" work: scouting, patrolling, raids, ambushes, spearheading assaults, and as counterattack forces to regain lost positions. They were attached on the basis of one 112 man company per 18,000 man infantry division.
The Rangers went into battle by air, land, and water. The 1st Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) opened with an extraordinary example of land navigation, then executed a daring night raid 9 miles behind enemy lines destroying an enemy complex. The enemy installation was later identified by a prisoner as the Headquarters of the 12th North Korean Division. Caught by surprise and unaware of the size of the American force, 2 North Korean Regiments hastily withdrew from the area. The 1st Company was in the middle of the major battle of Chipyong-Ni and the "May Massacre." It was awarded 2 Distinguished Unit Citations.
The 2nd and 4th Ranger Companies made a combat jump at Munsan-Ni, where Life Magazine reported patrols operating North of the 38th parallel. The 2nd Ranger Company plugged a critical gap left by a retreating allied force. The 4th Ranger Company executed a daring over-water raid at the Hwachon Dam.
The 3rd Ranger Company (attached to the 3rd Infantry Division) had the motto "Die Bastard, Die!" The 5th Ranger Company, fighting as an attachment to the 25th Infantry Division, performed brilliantly during the Chinese "5th Phase Offensive." Gathering up every soldier he could find, the Ranger company commander held the line with Ranger Sergeants commanding line infantry units. In the Eastern sector, the Rangers were the first unit to cross the 38th parallel on the second drive North.
The 8th Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) was attached to the 24th Infantry Division. They were known as the "Devils." A 33 man platoon from the 8th Ranger Company fought a between-the-lines battle with 2 Chinese reconnaissance companies. Seventy Chinese were killed. The Rangers suffered 2 dead and 3 wounded, all of whom were brought back to friendly lines.
The 75th Ranger Regiment is linked directly and historically to the 13 Infantry Companies of the 75th Infantry that were active in Vietnam from 1 February 1969 until 15 August 1972. The 75th Infantry Regiment was activated in Okinawa during 1954 and traced its lineage to the 475th Infantry Regiment, and from there back to the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). It was inactivated on 21 March 1956 on Okinawa.
The US experience in southeast Asia quickly showed the need for reconnaissance units. Lettered Infantry Companies (Long Range Patrol) were created from provisional Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol entities. A decision was eventually made to reflag all these units as elements of a single unit. Conversion of the Long Range Patrol Companies and Detachments of the 20th, 50th, 51st, 52nd, 58th, 71st, 78th, and 79th Infantries and Company D (Long Range Patrol), 151st Infantry of the Indiana National Guard, to Ranger Companies of the 75th Infantry began on 1 February 1969. Only Company D, 151st retained their unit identity and did not become a 75th Ranger Company. However, they did become a Ranger Company and continued the mission in Vietnam. Companies C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O and P (Ranger), 75th Infantry conducted Ranger missions for 3 years and 7 months, every day of the year, while in Vietnam. The units supported each of the US Army's Divisions in Vietnam and I and II Field Force, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV).
Like the original unit from whence their lineage as Neo Marauders was drawn, 75th Rangers came from Infantry, Artillery, Engineers, Signal, Medical, Military Police, Food Service, Parachute Riggers and other Army units. They were joined by former adversaries, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers who became "Kit Carson Scouts," and fought alongside the Rangers against their former units and comrades. Unlike Rangers of other eras in the 20th Century who trained in the United States or in friendly nations overseas, LRP and Rangers in Vietnam were activated, trained and fought in the same geographical areas in Vietnam.
Training was a combat mission for volunteers. Volunteers were assigned, not accepted in the various Ranger Companies, until, after a series of patrols, the volunteer had passed the litmus test of a Ranger: Combat. After that he was accepted by his peers. Following the peer acceptance, the volunteer was allowed to wear the black beret and wear the Red, White and Black scroll shoulder sleeve insignia bearing his Ranger Company identity. All Long Range Patrol Companies and 75th Ranger Companies were authorized Parachute pay. Modus Operandi for patrol insertion varied, however, the helicopter was the primary means for insertion and exfiltration of enemy rear areas. Other methods included foot, wheeled, tracked vehicle, airboats, Navy Swift Boats, and stay behind missions where the Rangers remained in place as a larger tactical unit withdrew. False insertions by helicopter were a means of security from ever present enemy trail watchers. General missions consisted of locating the enemy bases and lines of communication. Special missions included wiretap, prisoner snatch, Platoon and Company size raids and Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) following B-52 Arc Light missions.
Staffed initially by graduates of the US Army Ranger School (at the outset of the war, later by volunteers, some of whom were graduates of the in-country Ranger School, the Recondo School and, line company cadres), Paratroopers, and Special Forces trained men, the bulk of the Ranger volunteers came from the soldiers who had no chance to attend the schools, but carried the fight to the enemy. These Rangers remained with their units through some of the most difficult patrolling action(s) in Army history, and frequently fought much larger enemy forces when compromised on their reconnaissance missions.
Historically, Company I (Ranger), 75th Infantry, attached to the 1st Infantry Division and Company G (Ranger), 75th Infantry, attached to the 23rd Infantry Division (AMERICAL) produced the first 2 US Army Rangers to be awarded the Medal of Honor as a member of and while serving in combat Ranger company. Specialist Robert D. Law was awarded the first Medal of Honor with I/75th Infantry while on long range patrol in Tinh Phoc Province, Republic of Vietnam. He was from Texas. Staff Sergeant Robert J. Pruden was awarded the second Medal of Honor with G/75th Infantry, while on reconnaissance mission in Quang Ni Province, Republic of Vietnam. He was from Minnesota. In addition to the 2 Medal of Honor recipients above, Staff Sergeant Lazlo Rabel was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving with the 74th Infantry Detachment (LRP), a predecessor to Company N, (Ranger) 75th Infantry, attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, while on a long range patrol Binh Dinh Province, Republic of Vietnam. He was from Pennsylvania.
Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams, who observed the actions of the Rangers of the 75th Infantry in Vietnam as Commander of all US Forces there, selected those units as the model for the first US Army Ranger units formed during peacetime in the history of the United States Army. In the end, it was the outbreak of war in the Middle East in 1973 that prompted the Department of the Army to be concerned about the need for a light mobile force that could be moved quickly to any trouble spot in the world.
In the Fall of 1973, General Creighton Abrams, Army Chief of Staff formulated the idea of the reformation of the first battalion-sized Ranger units since World War II. In January, 1974, he sent a message to the field directing formation of a Ranger Battalion. He selected its missions and picked the first officers. He felt a tough, disciplined and elite Ranger unit would set a standard for the rest of the United States Army and that, as Rangers "graduated " from Ranger units to Regular Army units, their influence would improve the entire Army.
On 25 January 1974, Headquarters, United States Army Forces Command, published General Orders 127, directing the activation of the 1st Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger), with an effective date of 31 January 1974. In February 1974, the world-wide selection began and personnel assembled at Fort Benning, Georgia, to undergo the cadre training from March through June 1974. On 1 July 1974, the 1st Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger), parachuted into Fort Stewart, Georgia as part of their activation ceremony, marking the activation of the first battalion-sized Ranger unit since the Second World War.
The modern Ranger battalions were first called upon in 1980 to participate in the Iranian hostage rescue attempts. The ground work of the Special Operations capability of these units was laid during training and preparation for this operation. Rangers and other Special Operations Forces from throughout the Department of Defense developed tactics, techniques, and equipment from scratch, as no doctrine existed anywhere in the world.
During the United States' deployment on 25 October 1983 to Grenada, the mission of the Rangers was to protect the lives of American citizens and restore democracy to the island. During this operation, codenamed Operation Urgent Fury, the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger) conducted a daring low-level parachute assault (500 feet), seized the airfield at Point Salines, rescued American citizens at the True Blue Medical Campus, and conducted air assault operations to eliminate pockets of resistance.
With the demonstrated effectiveness of the Ranger Battalions in Grenade, the Department of the Army announced in 1984, that it was increasing the size of the active duty Ranger force to its highest level in 40 years, by activating another Ranger Battalion and a Ranger Regimental Headquarters. These new units, the 3rd Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger), and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 75th Infantry (Ranger), received their colors on 3 October 1984, at Fort Benning, Georgia. On 3 February 1986, World War II Battalions and Korean War Lineage and Honors were consolidated and assigned by tradition to what was redesignated as the 75th Ranger Regiment. This marked the first time that an organization of that size had been officially recognized as the parent headquarters of the Ranger Battalions.
The entire Ranger Regiment participated in Operation Just Cause, in which US forces restored democracy to Panama. Rangers spearheaded the action by conducting 2 important operations. The 1st Battalion, reinforced by Company C, 3rd Battalion, and a Regimental Command and Control Team, conducted an early morning parachute assault onto Omar Torrijos International Airport and Tocumen Military Airfield, to neutralize the Panamanian Defense Forces' (PDF) 2nd Rifle Company, and secure airfields for the arrival of the 82nd Airborne Division. The 2nd and 3rd Ranger Battalions and a Regimental Command and Control Team, conducted a parachute assault onto the airfield at Rio Hato, to neutralize the PDF's 6th and 7th Rifle Companies and seize General Manuel Noriega's beach house. Following the successful completion of these assaults, Rangers conducted follow-on operations in support of Joint Task Force (JTF)-South. The Rangers captured 1,014 Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW), and over 18,000 arms of various types. The Rangers sustained 5 killed and 42 wounded.
Elements of Company B and 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment deployed to Saudi Arabia from 12 February 1991 to 15 April 1991, in support of Operation Desert Storm. The Rangers conducted raids and provided a quick reaction force in cooperation with Allied forces. There were no Ranger casualties.
From July 1993 to 21 October 1993, Company B and a Command and Control Element of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment deployed to Somalia to assist United Nations forces in bringing order to a desperately chaotic and starving nation. Their mission was to capture key leaders in order to end clan fighting in and around the City of Mogadishu. On 3 October 1993, the Rangers conducted a daring daylight raid in which several special operations helicopters were shot down. For nearly 18 hours, the Rangers delivered devastating firepower, killing an estimated 300 Somali's in what many have called the fiercest ground combat since Vietnam. Six Rangers died.
On 24 November 2000, the 75th Ranger Regiment deployed Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment (RRD) Team 2 and a command and control element to Kosovo in support of Task Force Falcon.
After the events of 11 September 2001, Rangers were called upon to support operations relating to what was at that time the Global War on Terrorism. On 19 October 2001, 3rd Battalion and and other elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment spearheaded ground forces by conducting an airborne assault to seize Objective Rhino in Afganistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On 28 March 2003, 3rd Battalion employed the first airborne assault in Iraq to seize Objective Serpent in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Due to the changing nature of warfare and the need for an agile and sustainable Ranger Force, the Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment was activated on 17 July 2006. The Battalion conducted sustainment, intelligence, reconnaissance and maintenance missions which were previously accomplished by small detachments assigned to the Regimental headquarters and then attached within each of the 3 Ranger battalions. The activation of the Battalion signified a major waypoint in the transformation of the Ranger Force from a unit designed for short term "contingency missions" to continuous combat operations without loss in lethality or flexibility.
By 2009, the 75th Ranger Regiment was conducting sustained combat operations in multiple countries deploying from multiple locations in the United States, a task that is unprecedented for the Regiment. Rangers conducted combat operations with almost every deployed special operation forces, conventional and coalition force in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Ranger Regiment also executed a wide range of diverse operations that included airborne and air assaults into Afghanistan and Iraq, mounted infiltrations behind enemy lines, complex urban raids and rescue operations.
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