The sounds of helicopters from Gray Army Air Field paused just long enough for a moment of silence during a memorial dedication ceremony Nov. 7 for fallen 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment Soldiers.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord leadership, military representatives, Family and community members filled the parade area near the new Ranger Battalion headquarters to witness the laying of five wreaths, symbolizing the five major conflicts in which the battalion has fought. The granite obelisk bears the names of Rangers who lost their lives in training or combat.
Thank you for taking your precious time to be with us here today to memorialize a great American fighting unit, 2-75 Rngr. commander Lt. Col. Gregory Anderson told the crowd. This memorial will help us to visualize our purpose and commit to the values of the American Ranger while simultaneously tying us to the beloved memories of our fallen comrades.
Rangers from past military conflicts were in attendance and were recognized for their service, including some who fought in World War II and the Korean War.
The construction of the memorial was funded by the Pointe du Hoc Foundation, named after the 2-75 Rngr. mission in Normandy, France, on D-Day. Under the command of Lt. Col. James E. Rudder, the men of 2-75 Rngr. used only ropes and ladders to scale the 10-story vertical cliffs of Pointe du Hoc to destroy a German artillery battery. The mission was successful, but the battalion held their position to fight off a series of German counterattacks, resulting in the loss of more than half the unit.
Far too many Rangers have paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our Families and our way of life against so many enemies and so many lands during the past 68 years. Their legacy continues to inspire us to serve, Anderson said. It is these Rangers who are the spirit of this memorial a memorial which we hope in part pays tribute to them and becomes a lasting reminder to us here today and for future generations of Rangers of what it means to serve and the true significance of our duties.
The Ranger Battalion has served extensively in the Global War on Terror, returning from its 15th deployment totaling 59 months of combat operations in the last 12 and a half years.
The battalions current, enduring service in the context of its past sacrifices inspired former 2-75 Rngr. Battalion commander Col. David Hodne, and former Command Sgt. Major Pete Roethke, to suggest the memorial.
An army at war always runs the risk of losing perspective, Hodne said. This battalion has seen the entire war from the start. When you tie the World War II generation to the generation thats fighting the longest war our nation has ever fought, perspective is realized, and that contributes to resilience.
Since the memorial stands in the center of the battalions formation area, Hodne believes it serves as a constant reminder to 2-75 Rngr. Soldiers, as if the fallen are standing there with them.
Staff Sergeant Joshua Leach agrees and sees the memorial as a great tribute to Rangers past and present.
Its good to get veterans here from World War II all the way up to the Rangers who are fighting in this war to see each other and motivate each other, Leach said. In my opinion thats what makes us who we are, our mentality and our ability to drive through.