Military


Camp James E. Rudder
Florida Ranger Camp
Eglin AFB, Auxiliary Field #6

Auxiliary Field Number 6 is located approximately 14 NM northwest of Eglin Air Force Base. Unlighted airfield with asphalt runways and parking ramp. PPR required for Air Force cold refuel. Hangar facilities are not available at Auxiliary Field Number 6. Normally it is possible to contact the 6 th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Rudder on FM 51.00, call sign NOBLE HAMLET. Mission numbers are required for tactical training missions conducted within the Eglin restricted area and can be obtained from Eglin Scheduling. Mission numbers are not required for administrative flights to/from Auxiliary Field 6. However, flight without mission numbers may be prohibited from entering the restricted area until priority flight activity has concluded.

Camp Rudder is the final stage of the nine-week course that starts at Fort Benning, Ga., and continues in the mountains of northern Georgia. After parachuting into Camp Rudder, the students spend 18 days learning jungle tactics, including stream crossings. The Ranger course is designed to further develop military leaders who are physically and mentally tough and self-disciplined. It challenges them to think, act and react effectively in stress approaching that found in combat.

The Florida Ranger Camp was established November 15, 1951, by then MAJ Arthur "Bull" Simons who was named the Commander of the Amphi- bious/Jungle Training Committee at Auxilary Field Seven, which was the initial location of the Camp. Colonel Simons was later the Commander of the prisoner of war rescue attempt on Son Tay, North Vietnam. The Florida Ranger Camp remained at Field Seven for 20 years until it was moved to Field Six in January 1970.

In June 1974, the Florida Ranger Camp was officially renamed Camp James E. Rudder in honor of MG James E. Rudder, who commanded the 2d Ranger Battalion when it scaled the cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc, France, during the 1944 D-Day Normandy invasion.

The 6th Ranger Training Battalion's mission is to develop the leadership and combat functional skills of future ground combat leaders by making them conduct missions in a tactically realistic environment under physical and mental stresses that approach those found in combat. Included in the filed training exercises are airborne and helicopter assaults, small boat operations, river crossings and swamp crossings. Leadership skills are taxed when conducting small unit operations in a simulated combat environment by the daily challenges students encounter including severe weather, swampy terrain, periods of sleep and food deprivation, mental and physical fatigue, as well as emotional stress. The 6th Ranger Training Battalion's parent organization is the Ranger Training Brigade located at FT Benning, Georgia.

Over the years 22 students have died during the Eglin reservation phase of training. The worst accident was in February 1995 when four students died of hypothermia while on exercises in the swamps. The 1995 accident was blamed on several factors, including a sudden rise in the water level on Boiling Creek coupled with other unexpected weather changes, such as fog that delayed rescue efforts.

Since 1995, more sophisticated measures have been put into place that cast an elaborate, yet invisible, safety net around the students. As students plan ambushes and negotiate swamps, field ambulances are posted minutes away. Evacuation helicopters and rescue boats are on standby and are constantly advised of changing conditions. Before students enter the water, divers check out conditions. And an elaborate system to monitor weather and water conditions and depths exists at every step in the exercise.

Training remains tough for the men who aspire to be the Army's most elite warriors. The Army has also placed more emphasis on protecting Rangers during training. Camp officials say that with lessons learned from a training accident in 1995, and more resources thanks to allocations from Congress, the danger of training casualties has been greatly reduced.

Camp Rudder (U.S. Army Ranger Camp) is near the intersection of Ranger Camp Road and Lewis Turner Boulevard, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Ranger Camp Road is 1.6 miles east of the traffic light at Lewis Turner Blvd., and Rte. 85, in the scenic woods of the Eglin AFB military reservation.

 



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