Ranger News

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  • 12/01/2016 3:15 PM | Anonymous

    Christopher Herman Reynolds


    Christopher Herman Reynolds, 55, passed away on November 19, 2016 at his home in Joplin, Missouri after a courageous battle with cancer.

    Chris was born on January 2nd 1961 in Topeka Kansas to Ralph and Marian Reynolds.

    Chris grew up in Springfield Missouri. He graduated Parkview High School in 1979. Following graduation Chris joined the Army where he excelled, becoming an Army Ranger, Green Beret and Special Forces Operator. He served in the military for more than 10 years. After leaving the military Chris earned a degree in Business Management from Missouri Southern University.

    After working in manufacturing and transportation Chris went to work at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin Missouri where he worked as a Security Officer.

    Following the 911 attacks on America Chris returned to the military and served as a member of a Special Forces Team in the Middle East.

    Chris continued to serve his country, protecting US Diplomats in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and later as a member of Global Response Staff.

    As a boy, Chris spent a lot of time on his uncle’s ranch and it sparked a passion for the outdoors that stayed with Chris for life. Lessons learned on the ranch helped mold Chris into the man he would become. His strong work ethic and dedication to doing things right would later guaranty his success in life.

    Chris shares his passion for the outdoors with his daughter Emmy.

    Chris loved being a father more than anything. He loved spending time with his daughter. Whether cooking, shooting, turkey hunting or snuggling on the couch Chris was happiest when he was with Emmy.

    In 2009 Chris met his fiancé and they set about building a horse barn and stable. Chris designed and helped build the barn at Finley River Stables. He was an excellent horseman, he loved riding and thrived on taking care of the barn and he horses.

    In addition to a passion for horses Chris was an excellent businessman He was capable of juggling many business projects at once and was instrumental in helping start and manage a new business as well as helping to grow an established business.

    Chris lived his life with confidence and he had an “all in” personality that was nothing short of inspiring.

    In 2014 Chris began his battle with cancer. As with everything else in his life Chris gave this fight his all and was an inspiration to others.

    Chris was a loving father and brother, devoted fiancé, patriot and an incredible human being.

    Chris is preceded in death by his father Ralph, Reynolds his mother Marian Reynolds, his cousin Ruth Van Buren and his good friend Terry Walker.

    Chris is survived by his daughter Emmyrson Grace Reynolds-Questelle his fiancé Sheila Williams, her son Dalton Williams, his sisters Mary Caroline Stanley and Iris Jeannine Sims, a brother Frank Reynolds, as well as cousins, his military brothers in arms and many close friends.

    A memorial service will be held at the National Cemetery in Springfield Missouri on Monday December 5th at 11am immediately followed by a visitation with family and friends and celebration of Chris’s life at Finley River Stables 655 Arbour Road Sparta MO 65753.

    Flowers may be sent to Parker Mortuary in Joplin, Missouri.

    Memorial Service ‎
    Monday, December 05, 2016 at 11:00 AM‎
    National Cemetery - Springfield ‎
    ‎1702 E. Seminole Street ‎
    Springfield, Missouri 65804 ‎

    Celebration of Life
    Immediately after the Memorial Service
    Visitation with family and friends and celebration of Chris’s life at
    Finley River Stables
    ‎655 Arbour Road‎
    Sparta, Missouri 65753

  • 06/07/2016 10:31 AM | Anonymous

    Gary Linderer, (2016 RHOF Inductee) and other Long Range Reconnaissance Association (LRRA) Members with 94-Year-Old Original Darby Ranger, SSG Wilbur Gallup.

    SSG Gallup was the Guest of Honor at the Long Range Reconnaissance Association (LRRA) Rally on June 4, 2016, in Branson, MO.  

    SSG Gallup started out as a Pvt. in 1st Ranger Bn. and finished the war an acting Platoon Leader in 4th Ranger Bn.

    SSG Wilbur Gallop was made an Honorary Member of the LRRA.

    A special guest attended this Rally, original Darby Ranger Wilbur Gallup. Staff Sergeant Wilbur “Punch or Jug” Gallup enlisted into the 168th Infantry at Red Oak, Iowa in 1940. He received his nickname from his boxing prowess after winning the 1940 Midwest Golden Glove Championship and destroying all takers during the 168th Infantry’s Annual Training Camp.

    In early 1941, Punch, was inducted into federal service with the rest of the regiment and sent to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana for training. He was sent to Northern Ireland in 1942 where he volunteered to join the newly formed 1st Ranger Battalion. He completed training in the Scottish Highlands before heading south for the invasion of North Africa.

    During Operation Torch on 8 November 1942, Punch and the 1st Ranger Battalion landed east of Oran in Algeria and quickly captured the two coastal batteries at Arzew. He was with them for the tough fighting in Tunisia, where the Rangers proved what hard men they were through multiple night time raids and surprise attacks. His platoon took heavy casualties defending Dernia Pass while inflicting 70 KIA on the enemy. The Rangers later played an important role in the battle of El Guettar for which the Battalion was awarded its first Presidential Unit Citation.

    Following Africa, Punch participated in the invasions of Sicily and Italy. The Rangers encountered heavy resistance north of Salerno and at the base of the mountains near Venafro, Punch was hit on the right side of his face by shrapnel from a mortar shell. He was only 400 yards from an aid station at the time. He was evacuated first to Naples and then Africa, before arriving at O’Reilly General Army Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. Although Surgeons were able to restore sight in his right eye, the injury was significant and he suffered permanent vision damage.

    Punch Gallup served in four Campaigns, three invasions, and seven major battles. He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, two Presidential Unit Citations, and the Order of Saint Maurice.

  • 02/17/2016 8:02 PM | Anonymous

    Ranger Jan Schalavin, former 1-75th Ranger Command Sergeant Major, later US Army Garrison Alaska CSM, will have honors, burial at Ft. Richardson Nat'l Cemetery Fri Feb. 19, 2016. Meet at Ft Rich entrance 11:30.

    On Sat Feb 20th a Celebration of Life 2 pm at Eagle River VFW Post 9785. Ranger Schalavin loved soldiers, his rangers, his family, fishing and hunting in Alaska. Jan was born Feb. 20, 1938, left Hungary when Soviets crushed the Hungarian Peoples Revolution, passed Nov 27, 2015. 

    Ranger Schalavin enlisted in 1959 from Pennsylvania, joined 506th Parachute Inf Regt, Ft. Campbell. Service as a platoon sergeant in 101st Abn Div & 173rd Abn Bde ,1-36th Infantry, & 3rd AD. Ranger Instructor then the "first ever" First Sergeant for Co. C then 1SG HHC 2d Ranger Bn.  Service as Command Sergeant Major of 1st Ranger Battalion May 79 - May 81; CSM of 172rd Light Inf Bde (LIB) Alaska Apr 82 - Jan 85. Left Alaska to become CSM of the Infantry School, Ft Benning, GA, then CSM of the of the 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii. Service included Korea, two tours Germany, three tours in Vietnam. Involved with Desert One in Iran 1980. Last assignment as US Army Garrison Alaska CSM. Also served as Sergeant Major of the ROTC Program at SW Missouri State College.

    Awards include Silver Star, two Bronze Stars for Valor, one for Meritorious service, the Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm and the Meritorious Service Metal with five Oak Leaf Clusters. He was authorized to wear the Combat Infantry badge, the Ranger Tab, the Master Parachute badge and the Expert Infantry badge.

    CSM Schalavin retired in 1993, after serving his country proudly for 35 years. He was a member of VFW Post 9785 in Eagle River. Jan earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Alaska-Anchorage after retirement.

    An avid hunter and fisherman, he took a nice Kodiak Brown bear and enjoyed hunting trips to Nebraska for buffalo and pheasant with friends. He was genuinely at peace at his cabin and fish-wheel on the Copper River in Glennallen, Alaska, where friends from the VFW came to visit and fish. His smoked salmon was some of the best. If he wasn't hunting or fishing, you could find him cooking or telling war story or two at the VFW over a rum and coke. A funny, friendly man with a wonderful sense of humor. He loved taking his grandkids to the VFW for Sunday brunch. A kind and generous man and gracious host. He was the epitome of a Ranger, and the consummate soldier and NCO. As a senior NCO, he "took care of his boys."

    Jan was a father, grandfather, leader, mentor and the best kind of friend a person could ever have. He touched many people's lives all over the country and will forever remain in our hearts. He is survived by his daughter, Brooke Schalavin; and grandkids, Beau Janos and Chloe-Anne Schalavin-Romero of Eagle River. His dog, BO, will be waiting for him to throw the ball. He truly was a "one of a kind" man and will be sorely missed.
    Rest in Peace, Jan ...

                                         RANGERS LEAD THE WAY.

    Click here to visit the obit site...

  • 12/29/2015 9:00 PM | Anonymous

    Vincent Melillo, 97, the last original WW II Merrill’s Marauder in Georgia out of about 40 still living, will be interred during a military ceremony Jan. 2, 2016, at Midway United Methodist Church in Milan between 3:30 and 4:00 PM.   Interment will be after a 10:30 AM memorial service Jan. 2 at Ft. Benning’s Infantry Center Chapel on main post next to Gowdy Stadium. The visitation will be Jan. 1 at Striffler-Hamby Funeral Home on Macon Rd., beginning with a 6 PM Rosary -- and will last until 8:30 PM. 

    Also a Korean War, 5th Regimental Combat Team veteran, Melillo will be buried beside his late wife, the former Frankie Doris Thompson of Milan, the last of three girls born to Frank Thompson of Eatonton and Alice Mae Walker Thompson of Milan.

    Melillo died Christmas Eve at the Medical Center in Columbus where he was transported following a heart attack at his home there. He had been recovering from a heart attack and surgery earlier in December.

    A member of both the Army Ranger Hall of Fame and Georgia Military Veteran’s Hall of Fame, Melillo will be transported to Midway United Methodist Church Saturday, following the memorial service at the Ft. Benning Infantry Center Chapel. MAJ. Mark Winton, chaplain of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, will conduct the ceremony at Midway Church.

    Despite his age, Melillo was very involved in living history programs throughout Georgia, including FDR’s Little White House, the National Infantry Museum, the Atlanta History Center and WW II Heritage Days along with programs at schools, churches and organizations.

    During September, he traveled more than 4,000 miles to attend two military reunions. The 69th Merrill’s Marauder reunion of veterans from the China Burma India Theater, known as “WW II’s forgotten theater,” was in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. The reunion of the 33rd Infantry, the unit he served with from 1940 to 1943, was in Auburn, NY. 

    He regularly attended all Ranger graduations at Ft. Benning’s Victory Pond. During November, he was honored with a resolution from the Columbus City Council.

    In 2013, 162 new Ranger School graduates honored him by standing up when Brig. Gen. David Haight presented him with seven additional medals, including a second Bronze Star for WW II and a second Purple Heart for the Korean War, at Victory Pond.

    A native of Boonton, NJ, he was the fifth child born to Italian immigrants July 23, 1918. After his mother died from the 1918 flu epidemic when he was three months old, Melillo was raised in orphanages until being reclaimed around age 11 by the family he didn’t know existed.

    He quit school after the seventh grade to become a mason’s helper to his father. He worked for the Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps and Boonton Molding Co., before joining the Army.

    After volunteering in 1943 for a secret “dangerous and hazardous mission” expecting more than 85 casualties, he became one of almost 3,000 men later called Merrill’s Marauders after their commander. 

  • 10/24/2015 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Oct. 23, 2015) - Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, 39, assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was killed in action Oct. 22, while deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Wheeler died from enemy gunfire while in combat near Hawijah, Iraq.

    He was born Nov. 22, 1975, in Roland, Oklahoma, and graduated in 1994 from Muldrow High School in Muldrow, Oklahoma.

    Wheeler entered the U.S. Army as an infantryman in May 1995, completing his initial entry training at Fort Benning, Ga. His first assignment was with Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Washington.

    In February 1997, he transitioned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Washington, where he served for over seven years as an infantryman, rifle team leader, squad leader, weapons squad leader, and anti-tank section leader, deploying five times in support of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Wheeler was assigned to U.S. Army Special Operations Command in 2004, and deployed 12 times in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Wheeler's military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger School, Warrior Leader Course, Static Line Jumpmaster, Military Mountaineering Course, Basic and Advanced Demolition Courses, Advanced Urban Combat Training, Advanced Marksmanship Techniques, Close Range Tactical M4 Training, Infantry Advanced Leader's Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (Level C) Course, Infantry Senior Leader's, Military Free Fall Course, and the Military Free Fall Jumpmaster Course.

    Wheeler's awards and decorations include four Bronze Star Medals with Valor Device, seven Bronze Star Medals, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor Device, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, seven Army Commendation Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, eight Army Achievement Medals, the Good Conduct Medal (6th Award), the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with 6 Bronze Service Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (3rd Award), the Army Service Ribbon, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Valorous Unit Award (2nd Award), the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, and three Overseas Service Bars.  Wheeler was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

    He is survived by his wife, four sons, and his grandmother and grandfather.


  • 09/05/2015 12:29 PM | Anonymous

    Legendary WW II Merrill’s Marauders hold 69th annual reunion in Dallas/Ft. Worth
    by Jonnie Melillo Clasen

    An older and smaller group of WW II Merrill’s Marauders, legendary Infantry jungle fighters who volunteered for a secret mission expecting 85 percent casualties, will gather with other China, Burma, India Theater (CBI) veterans for their 69th annual reunion Sept. 3 to 5, 2015, in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

    “We are expecting 15 CBI veterans plus their families and friends at this year‘s reunion,” said Bob Passanisi, 91, Merrill’s Marauder spokesperson, historian and former long-time editor of “The Burman News.“ The reunion will be at the Marriott Solana in Westlake.

    “There are less than 50 original Merrill’s Marauders still living in 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of WW II,” added Passanisi. “They are part of almost 3,000 volunteers who answered President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1943 call for a secret ‘dangerous and hazardous’ mission, not knowing their destination or objective.”

    Officially designated Jan. 1, 1944, as the 5307th Composite Unit Provisional, code-named “Galahad,” the unit was later “nicknamed” Merrill’s Marauders by the press after their commander, Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill.

    Modern-day Army Rangers, the 75th Ranger Regiment, honor their legacy by wearing the Marauder patch as their crest. Camp Frank D. Merrill, where the rigorous mountain phase of Ranger training is conducted in north Georgia, is named in honor of the unit’s commander.

    Retired Ranger Karl Monger, founder and chief executive officer of the non-profit GallantFew, Inc., will be the keynote speaker at the reunion’s Saturday night banquet. Along with producing and hosting a weekly internet talk show, “The New American Veteran,” the Dallas resident created The Darby Project (U.S. Army Rangers,) The Raider Project (Marine Corps Special Operations and Infantry combat veterans) and Wings Level (US Air Force.)

    The Marauders, with only what they could carry on their backs or pack on mules, made military history during the short eight months of their existence by marching farther -- with estimates up to 1,000 miles -- than any other American fighting force in WW II. They were supplied by airdrops from C-47 transport planes.

    The Marauders were considered “expendable,” since a plan existed to get them into Burma but no plan existed to get them out, according to Marauder, lecturer and retired Lt. Gen. Samuel V. Wilson, 90. His many accomplishments range from serving as president of Virginia’s Hampden-Sydney College to helping create Delta Force, the U.S. Army’s premier counterterrorism unit.

    According to Passanisi, "No other unit in the annals of military history, before or since has ever fought continuously under such adverse conditions, for more than four months; well beyond the known level of human jungle endurance."

    They trudged behind enemy lines up the foothills of the Himalayas and into the jungles of northern Burma to capture the only all-weather airstrip May 17, 1944, at Myitkyina, crushing Japan’s control of the sky and enabling the Allies to safely fly supplies into Burma for connecting the Ledo and Burma roads and opening up a crucial pathway into China.

    Jungle diseases, including malaria, dysentery and mite-typhus alongwith malnutrition and exhaustion, had ravaged their numbers so only about 300 of the remaining original Marauders were still considered fit for combat. After the Marauders reached the airstrip, a second wave of men, replacements without combat experience, began flying in. They became part of the 5307th CUP before it was disbanded several months later on Aug. 10, 1944.

    Last year on the 70th anniversary of the unit’s disbanding, governors of every state in the nation, except California, issued proclamations or similar documents declaring August 10, 2014 as National WW II Merrill’s Marauder Day.

    The massive grassroots effort to have the special day designated was organized by Merrill’s Marauders Proud Descendants (MMPD,) a nonprofit organization comprised of sons and daughters of Marauders, along with their grandchildren and other relatives.

    The MMPD also plans the annual reunions and is currently trying to gather support to have the U.S. Congress issue the Congressional Gold Medal to Merrill’s Marauders.

    For their accomplishments, Merrill’s Marauders were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and have the extremely rare distinction of every member receiving the Bronze Star Medal. There were six Distinguished Service Crosses, four Legions of Merit and 44 Silver Star Medals awarded. Twenty-five Merrill’s Marauders have been inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame.

    Three of the five confirmed Army Rangers who have lived to 100 years of age or older are Merrill’s Marauders. They include the late Everett W. Stanke, who died at 101 on Aug. 12, 2015, at home in Edgerton, WI. He would have turned 102 in November.

    Merrill's Marauder and Nisei warrior Roy Matsumoto died the evening of Easter Sunday 2014 about two weeks away from his 101st birthday at his home in Friday Harbor, WA. It was the 70th Easter Sunday anniversary of the 2nd Battalion being rescued by the 1st and 3rd Battalions after being surrounded for almost two weeks by the Japanese at the battle of Nphum ga. Matsumoto played a key role in that rescue.

    The oldest Merrill’s Marauder is John M. Jones, publisher of the "Greeneville Sun" in Tennessee. He turns 101 this December. He and his wife "Arne," also 100 years old, celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this year. Jones kept a journal during the Burma campaign, which has been published as "The War Diary of the 5307th Composite Unit Provisional," and collaborated with the late Dr. E.T. Hopkins on the comprehensive Marauder history, "Spearhead."  

  • 09/01/2015 12:59 PM | Anonymous

    John Michael Prochak, age 92 of Austintown, Ohio, passed away on Monday, August 31, 2015 at 3:55 AM, from glioblastoma, cancer of the brain.  He was born February 26, 1923 in Campbell, Ohio, the son of Kathryn Jasack and Joseph Hauzlik Prochak.

    John is survived by his daughters, Christine (Patrick) Andino of Berlin Center, and Cathy (Pete) Evanovitz of Youngstown; three granddaughters, Jaci Clark of Youngstown, Ashley (Matthew) Hathaway of Wooster, and Kendall (Benjamin) Brewer of Charleston, SC; four great-grandchildren, Gregory Bass, Boston Clark, and Ridley Clark all of Youngstown, and Peyton Hathaway of Wooster; and one great-great-granddaughter, Savannah Bass of Medina; as well as his only brother, Edward Prochak, 88 of Youngstown, and his sister, Francis Zander, 90, of Riverside, CA.

    Other than his parents, John was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Theresia Christine Muehlbacher Prochak, who passed away on November 29, 2006 of Alzheimer's; and four sisters, Mary Jasack, Anne Dumiak, Bertha Mitulinski, and Helen Grahovac.

    John's military career spanned 27 years in the US Army through WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was one of the original Darby's Rangers from WWII and was a POW for nearly two years in Germany. He was also the oldest soldier to complete jump training and become a paratrooper. John's time in the military gained him numerous commendations and medals including the Bronze Star.

    He will be remembered by all who knew him as a kind and loving father, grandfather, and friend. A true hero will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

    Calling hours will be held from 5-7 PM, Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at the Lane Family Funeral Homes-Austintown Chapel, 5797 Mahoning Avenue in Austintown. Military services will take place at 7 PM immediately following the visitation period.

    In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be given to Wounded Warrior Project, Inc., PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.


  • 08/07/2015 11:13 PM | Anonymous

    Antouine James Castaneda, of Phoenix, Arizona, died on July 23, 2015. Antoine’s family includes his 2 daughters: Vanessa (6 yrs. old) and Viviana (4 yrs. old); parents: Rick and Sarah Castaneda, and Natalie and Todd Elyea; brother, Dustin Castaneda (Amanda Norwood); former wife, Sharon Castaneda; grandparents: Yvonne Becker, Stan Worden, Pat Worden, Matthias and Frances Eichhorn, and Jane and Robert Elyea, great-grandmother, Beatrice Worden; 2 nephews: Logan and Jaxon Castaneda; several loving aunts and uncles; and his military family. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Thursday from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900 where services will be held Friday at 11:00 a.m. Burial with Military Honors provided by his Platoon’s honor guard will follow at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Antouine’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Soldier’s Best Friend.

    Funeral for Ranger  Antouine Castaneda

    Thursday 13 August 1600-2000 visitation

    6080 Stadium Dr.

    Kalamazoo, Michigan


    Friday 14 August


    Ft. Custer National Cemetery

    15501 Dickman Rd.

    Augusta, Michigan


    Life Story / Obituary


    All who knew Antouine Castaneda would agree that he was larger than life. A brave man of honor and courage, he accomplished a great many things of which to be proud, but he was a humble, generous, and selfless person who would do anything for anyone. Antouine would say that his greatest accomplishment was becoming a father, and since he was a kid at heart he loved nothing more than goofing around with his girls. He was a loving and kindhearted man who was quick to forgive, never holding a grudge. With a smile always at the ready, Antouine was a stranger to none and a friend to all. Life will never be the same within him here, but his spirit will remain a vibrant presence in the hearts and lives of all who were within his reach.

    The 1980s were a time unlike any other in American history. We were on the brink of the age of technology with several noteworthy accomplishments that moved us forward. Video game systems, camcorders, and the first cellular phones emerged while names like David Hasselhoff, Michael J. Fox, and Madonna became part of our world. Amidst this exciting time was an exciting time in the lives of Rick and Natalie Castaneda for a much different reason as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their second child as the heat of the summer held Allegan, Michigan, firmly in its grip in July of 1983. The big day finally arrived when the baby boy they named Antouine James drew his first breath on July 23rd. He was 16 months younger than his brother, Dustin, and experienced a typical upbringing.

    As a young boy Antouine was full of life. He was a talented skateboarder, along with his brother, and seemed to be out boarding all day every day. Antouine also snowboarded and played a variety of sports in which he excelled. His parents divorced when he was in middle school, and he later went to the Chicago area to live with his father. While there, Antouine attended Bartlett High School where he played basketball. He loved hanging out with his friends, skateboarding, working out, and really got into nutrition. Antouine generally ate healthy and drank plenty of milk, but he usually ran through Burger King after a workout to get two Whopper Jr sandwiches, or “fat boy cake,” as he called them. Of course he still ate dinner at home, too!

    The day after graduating from high school in 2001, Antouine enlisted in the Army and spent a substantial amount of time at Fort Benning, Georgia. He went on to Ranger school and was in Iraq for the invasion. As part of the 75th Ranger Regiment for four years, Antouine was sent to the Northern region to take over an airfield. He completed three tours in Iraq in addition to one tour in Afghanistan. Known as “Cas,”Antouine became a sergeant and was among the best of the best. Recently, he was one of the four Army Rangers who were selected to be a part of the 60th anniversary celebration. He and his fellow Rangers reenacted the D-Day invasion by parachuting onto the beach of Normandy. Antouine woke up every day and said,

    "Rangers lead the way,” 10 times. He then went on to work in security with Blackwater Worldwide at the highest level of security. Throughout his three years there, Antouine, who was known as “Lips,” put his life on the line for dignitaries several times.

    Not to be forgotten during Antoine’s years in school was his introduction to fellow classmate, Sharon Smith. He usually called her “Bugsy,” and they became high school sweethearts. They dated for several years and on August 4, 2007, they were married. They made their home in Mesa, Arizona, and built a new home complete with a pool, an enormous 72 inch television, and the big marlin that he caught while on his honeymoon. Together they were blessed with two daughters, Vanessa and Viviana, who are six and four, respectively. Antouine loved nothing more than being a father, and his girls were the light of his life. They called him “King James” since they frequently played princess together, and every night he read them books and also sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” When they weren’t playing dress up, Antouine and his girls loved going to the zoo or swimming, swinging, or doing gymnastics together. Although his marriage ended in divorce last year, he was forever grateful for their girls.

    Antouine was a lover of life and a man of many interests. He was a great cook whose specialties included pasta, chicken, and cookies, and he loved cheese, cheese pizza, Mexican food, and hot wings - the hotter the better! Every morning Antouine started his day with peaches and cream oatmeal and egg whites, and he also had cases of granola bars on hand and also enjoyed protein shakes. Thanksgiving usually found him deep frying a turkey. Antouine had the time of his life on a 21 day primitive backpacking vacation to Brazil. He liked Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker, and lots of water, reading military history, all types of music, stars, and all the Disney movies. In fact, Antouine was known for his ability to recite lines from Lion King and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. He was impossible to defeat when it came to playing Medal of Honor, and his dogs were very special to him.

    The sort of person everyone immediately loved, Antouine Castaneda was a blessing in every way. He had the biggest heart with a quick wit and a drive to excel in everything he did. Someone who was generous with the homeless, especially around the holidays, Antouine was completely selfless as he lived to serve others. He adored his daughters, and he was the best dad around as his devotion to his daughters was unmatched. Antouine had been in school working toward becoming a counselor for troubled teens after serving his country for numerous years. His life cut much too short, he will be forever missed but never forgotten.

  • 05/09/2015 2:13 PM | Anonymous

    (Curtesy of the ledger-enquirer; by CHUCK WILLIAMS, May 8, 2015) 

    Ranger students tackle the Darby Queen obstacle course at Camp Darby, Sunday April 26, 2015. The Army's Ranger School, which has historically been open to males only allowed females to qualify for the Army's most elite training course as part of the military's gender integration assessment. At the beginning of Ranger School, 19 woman joined the course, and 8 females continued beyond Ranger Assessment Phase (RAP) Week.

    The U.S. Army Ranger School class that started nearly three weeks ago with 19 women will move to the next phase in the North Georgia mountains without any females, the Army announced Friday.

    The eight women who survived the first week of physical assessment did not make the cut when they were evaluated for their performance during the Camp Darby phase of the demanding 62-day, four-phase course that has never been open to women.

    The eight women and 101 men who did not make the cut in the Camp Darby phase will be picked up by the next class on Thursday and redo the nearly two weeks of training, according to an Army news release.

    “I had the opportunity to visit the Ranger students yesterday and was impressed that whether going forward to the mountains or recycling the Darby phase they were motivated to continue training and focused on successfully completing the Ranger course,” said Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning.

    “They’re a strong group of soldiers, who are working their way through the U.S. Army’s most physically and mentally demanding course.”

    This is the first time in its more than six-decade history that elite Ranger training has been open to women. There are currently no plans to open up other Ranger courses to women, but those who recycle will be allowed to complete the process just as any male soldier would.

    A class of 399 soldiers started the course April 19. More than half the initial class was dropped in the first week. When the class moved to the Camp Darby phase after the physical assessment, 71 students who had been recycled from previous classes were added, according to the Army.

    Of those 263 who started the current Darby phase, 115 will move to the mountains — the third of four phases. The remainder have either been recycled or dropped.

    Each student has up to three recycle opportunities to try to complete the leadership course. Less than 30 percent of all Rangers go straight through the course without recycling.

    Those who are recycled and must repeat a phase face a more difficult challenge than those who go straight through the course and graduate, said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis L. Smith, who owns Uncommon Athlete Inc., a downtown Columbus workout and training facility. In Smith’s final Army assignment three years ago, he was the command sergeant major for the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.

    “In my opinion, physically and mentally they have made life harder,” Smith said Friday. “But I am a glass half full kind of guy. They can use this to their advantage. They know what is coming next.”

    Once the initial Ranger Assessment Phase was complete, the soldiers were put into small units and had to work as a team to plan and execute military missions. The soldiers in the Camp Darby phase were scored by Ranger instructors on their patrol leadership skills, spot checks on their ability to do certain tasks and peer evaluations.

    They did these assignments with a lack of food and sleep to create stressful situations that simulate combat.

    The 109 students who recycled Friday will stay in the school and work around Camp Rogers and Camp Darby as they wait for the next class to roll through.

    “They are not going anywhere; they are there,” Smith said. “The good news for them is they get three meals a day and fairly good sleep. They will be doing details that need to be done. They could be cutting grass or mending fences. They will also be going to some classes.”

    The training for the 115 who passed Friday now moves to Camp Merrill near Dahlonega, Ga., where the Ranger candidates will continue the small-unit training they started a couple of weeks ago at Camp Darby on the eastern edge of Fort Benning.

    Once the mountain phase is completed, the training moves to Camp Rudder in the swamps of the Florida panhandle near Destin. This class is scheduled to graduate at Fort Benning on June 19.

    The standards for the course have not been altered, according to Army officials.

    This Ranger Course class is part of an Army-wide evaluation of women’s roles in the military branch.

    All of the women who started this course had successfully completed a two-week Ranger Assessment Training Course at the Warrior Training Center on Fort Benning.

    The training course mirrors the first couple of weeks of Ranger School with the physical fitness test, land navigation and marching. There were 113 women who went through the pre-Ranger course and 20 were slotted for the class that started April 19. When it came time to report, 19 of the 20 women reported. Three of the 19 failed the initial physical assessment. Eight more were dropped after the first week, leaving the eight who were recycled Friday.

    The names of the female soldiers in this class have not been released by the Army. Some of the Army leadership have expressed concerns about the pressure they could face by being identified.

    Only about 3 percent of Army soldiers have earned the Ranger tab.

  • 04/02/2015 8:03 PM | Anonymous

    FORT MEADE, Md. (April 2, 2015) -- Six more women have qualified to attend the first Army Ranger course to include women, bringing to 12, the number of female Soldiers eligible for the elite school.

    The six women successfully finished the Ranger Training Assessment Course, or RTAC, March 19, along with 25 of the 85 men who began that two-week course.

    The six women were among 34 female Soldiers who began that RTAC, March 6, on Fort Benning, Georgia, which hosts both the RTAC and the Ranger course.

    Integrating women into the Ranger program comes as the Army opens jobs to women that were previously closed to them. The physically and mentally grueling, two-month Ranger School Assessment begins, April 20.

    "This class reaffirmed that RTAC, just like Ranger School, is very tough," said Maj. William Woodard Jr., A Company commander, Army National Guard Warrior Training Center on Fort Benning, which conducts the RTAC "The standards are the same during the gender-integrated RTAC iterations, and they won't change."

    Five women qualified during the first iteration of the gender-integrated RTAC in January. One woman qualified during the second RTAC in February. The final gender-integrated RTAC runs April 3-18.

    Not all Soldiers are required to attend the two-week RTAC before attending the Ranger School. However, successfully completing an RTAC is mandatory for all female Soldiers, who want to attend the Ranger course. Additionally, all National Guard Soldiers, who want to attend the Ranger course, must also successfully complete an RTAC. Active-duty male Soldiers, who do not work in a physically demanding environment, may also attend an RTAC.

    RTAC assesses the physical and mental abilities of the Ranger hopefuls through a series of rigorous tests of their mental and physical limits, including fitness challenges, navigating terrain, and carrying out infantry tactics.

    For more ARNEWS stories, visit www.army.mil/ARNEWS, or Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArmyNewsService, or Twitter@ArmyNewsService



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