Ranger News

The Ranger News Blog presents current news within the Ranger community; members and the public viewing our website can add comments.

  • 09/09/2010 10:33 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service), Sept. 9, 2010 – In an Oct. 6 ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama will present the Medal of Honor to the parents of a soldier who died while saving members of his team and 15 Afghan soldiers.

    Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who was 24 years old when he died, will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroic actions in Barikowt, Afghanistan, on Jan. 25, 2008.

    “He displayed immeasurable courage and uncommon valor --eventually sacrificing his own life to save the lives of his teammates and 15 Afghanistan National Army soldiers,” White House officials said in a written statement issued today announcing the honor.

    Miller’s parents, Phil and Maureen Miller, will join the president at the ceremony, the statement said.

    Miller was born on Oct. 14, 1983, in Harrisburg, Pa., and graduated from Wheaton North High School in Wheaton, Ill. Shortly after his family moved to Oviedo, Fla., he enlisted in the Army in August 2003 as a Special Forces candidate. He attended basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., and received his Green Beret in 2005.

    He served as a weapons sergeant in Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

    His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Special Forces tab, the Ranger tab and the parachute badge.

    In addition to his parents, he is survived by brothers Thomas, Martin and Edward and sisters Joanna, Mary, Therese and Patricia.

  • 09/03/2010 4:09 PM | Anonymous

    FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The Ranger Training Brigade is looking for a growth spurt in the ranks.

    Facing critical shortages across the Army, the unit has cranked up a recruiting campaign to lure more candidates to Ranger School, especially at the junior NCO level.

    Lt. Col. Kyle Feger, the RTB's deputy commander, said the brigade needs more staff sergeants to serve as Ranger instructors, so it's seeking out junior NCOs to volunteer for Ranger School in an effort to create better-trained combat leaders and fill Army-wide vacancies.

    "As evidenced across our entire force, the RTB and U.S. Army as a whole is critically short on Ranger-qualified staff sergeants in particular," he said. "The RTB is currently filling just over half of its authorized numbers of Ranger-qualified staff sergeants and having to rely more heavily on sergeants first class for Ranger instructors ... And only Ranger-qualified NCOs can serve as Ranger instructors."

    Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Smith, the RTB's command sergeant major, said the Army has only 850 Infantry staff sergeants with Ranger tabs - and about 2,100 slots available. Excluding the RTB and 75th Ranger Regiment, that gap is even more pronounced, he said.

    "I want to recruit the specialists and sergeants," he said. "That's who we're targeting, because most commands are reluctant to let their staff sergeants and sergeants first class go off to Ranger School. They're just too valuable."

    "If we can recruit some specialists and sergeants, we'll really see a boost in numbers in three to five years."

    Ranger School, however, certainly isn't easy, and it's not for everyone, RTB leaders said. But the rewards are high and offer Soldiers a great career progression tool, both inside and outside the Army.

    "There are no words to describe the pride of being a Ranger," Smith said. "And that Ranger tab will open a lot of doors for you as a Soldier and a leader, not only in the Army but when you get out. It says something about your character, leadership ability and mental toughness. Anyone who knows anything about Ranger School, and sees that tab on your shoulder, knows you're a cut above. And they want you on their team."

    Ranger candidates must be highly motivated, extremely physically fit and possess a solid baseline knowledge of small-unit tactics, Feger said. They must pass a medical screening to ensure they don't have any defects that might contribute to complications during the strenuous course.

    He said "high-risk training" takes place nearly every day within the RTB, including Airborne, air assault, mountain and waterborne operations. Rangers get only three to five hours of sleep at training, depending on their performance, and eat just two MREs a day, about 2,000 to 3,000 calories. They also must deal with extreme weather conditions.

    "The cumulative effects of the physical demands, coupled with the added stressors of food and sleep deprivation, create the largest hurdle for Ranger students," he said.

    The first three days are easily the most difficult, RTB leaders said. It consists of physically demanding events - including a five-mile run, land-navigation tasks and 15.5-mile foot march - strung together over about 72 hours that challenge the candidates before they ever start the patrolling-techniques phase.

    "It's a hard three days because it's nonstop," Smith said. "Most people do not come prepared for that ... (But) if you pass the first three days, your chance of graduating is about 75 percent."

    Feger called Ranger School the "single-most important leadership course" in the Army, if not the entire Department of Defense. He said it gives Soldiers the confidence and tools to take charge of their units and lead them through any situation.

    "Becoming a Ranger-qualified leader in our Army today is an awesome achievement," he said. "Because it is such a small population of personnel across the Army and throughout our history, just becoming a Ranger has a huge meaning to those men who have volunteered and made the grade. But it's not about what it does for the individual."

    "More importantly, it is about what that individual is now expected to live up to, every day, in leading their men in accordance with the principles of the Ranger creed - leading the way by setting the standard for others to follow."

    WHO'S ELIGIBLE FOR RANGER SCHOOL?

    Male Soldiers in ranks specialist and above. The combat exclusion clause remains in effect so female Soldiers cannot attend by policy. Personnel in the grade of E-3 not assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment or Ranger Training Brigade must submit a request for waiver through his chain of command. While it's not mandatory for Ranger School, about 80 percent of each class is Airborne-qualified.

    Complete dental and health records, including original physical examination (SF 88, SF 93 and supporting documents) must be submitted, dated within 18 months of Ranger course start date and signed by a physician stating the applicant is medically qualified to attend Ranger training.

    HOW DO YOU MAKE THE CUT?

    Ranger training lasts 61 days, and the first three are the toughest. Historically, about 60 percent of the overall course drops occur in Week 1 during the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP. Events include a physical fitness test on the first morning requiring 49 push-ups, 59 situps, six pull-ups and a five-mile run in less than 40 minutes. The first 72 hours also include the Combat Water Survival Assessment, three-mile "buddy run," Malvesti Obstacle Course, night and day land navigation over several kilometers, and a 15.5-mile foot march from Camp Rogers to Camp Darby on post.

    Those who make it past that crucible still must demonstrate technical and tactical competence on graded patrols such as reconnaissance and ambush. Each phase includes peer evaluations in which candidates rate each other from first to last based on their ability to work as a team member and pull their weight.

    Patrol and peer evaluations continue into the mountain phase at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga., where platoon operations are conducted over extremely rugged mountainous terrain. Then, it's on to Camp Rudder, Fla., where the Ranger hopefuls continue through waterborne operations in the coastal swamps.

    Soldiers interested in becoming a Ranger instructor should contact the RTB's personnel office.

  • 09/03/2010 2:58 PM | Anonymous

    KABUL, Afghanistan (Kimberly Dozier, AP)  The new top commander in Afghanistan is talking up a weapon that has been kept in the shadows for years - special operations missions to kill or capture key insurgents - to try to convince skeptics the war can be won.

    More than previous commanders, Gen. David Petraeus has released the results of special operations missions - 235 militant leaders were killed or captured in the last 90 days, another 1,066 rank-and-file insurgents killed and 1,673 detained - to demonstrate the Taliban and their allies are also suffering losses as NATO casualties rise.

    Petraeus told reporters traveling Friday with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, that in the past 24 hours, special operations forces carried out eight missions, capturing three targeted individuals. Four more were believed killed or detained, Petraeus said.

    Accentuating the positive is part of Petraeus' media style, developed when he commanded U.S. forces in Iraq and was widely credited with helping turn the tide in that war.

    Those skills are part of what the White House knew it needed when President Barack Obama selected the four-star general in July to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal, after remarks critical of the administration appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.

    Since taking command, Petraeus has used a series of high-profile media interviews to try to reverse the wave of pessimism about the war, especially within Congress and the American public.

    Playing up missions by special operations forces - Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Army Rangers and Green Berets - offers a way to demonstrate that the U.S. and its NATO partners are taking the fight to the Taliban.

    Petraeus has shared key heretofore classified data with reporters at a level of detail that surprised many U.S. officials here and in Washington.

    A senior official in Kabul downplayed the notion that publicizing these details is calculated to win public support, saying it simply highlights one of the war's successes. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the commander's strategy.

    Special operations missions are now at their highest tempo, with nearly 4,000 carried out between May and August, according to officials here.

    U.S. officials are sensitive to the suggestion that Petraeus is using the spec-ops successes for public effect, perhaps because it harks back to the largely discredited body counts of the Vietnam war.

    But back in Washington, the release of information was warmly welcomed in some quarters, offsetting the daily drumbeat of rising U.S. casualties. At least 28 U.S. service members have been killed in the past week.

    Special operations troops have been in Afghanistan since the conflict began in 2001, working with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance to drive the Taliban from power after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States and later to pursue al-Qaida leaders.

    Last fall, McChrystal, who commanded special operations forces in Iraq, stepped up the tempo, broadening their mission to include killing or capturing midlevel commanders in the Taliban and their allies in the Haqqani network.

    What's new is that Petraeus and his aides are talking about it.

    By highlighting their successes, Petraeus could earn bankable political capital that he will need if he recommends that Obama slow the drawdown of U.S. troops that the president promised will begin next July.

    This does not mean that Petraeus is shifting emphasis from traditional counterinsurgency strategy - clearing territory, holding it, building on it, and then turning it over to the Afghan government.

    In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press and two other news organizations, Petraeus spoke of spec-ops successes, but added: "You don't kill or capture your way out of an industrial strength insurgency."

    However, demonstrating progress is difficult in a war fought in hundreds of small, scattered engagements, where frontlines do not move and where cities do not fall.

    That's where the spec-ops raids come in. The mystique of elite, highly trained commandos swooping down on an unsuspecting Taliban leader in the dead of night plays well back home, especially at a time when much of the news from Afghanistan focuses on rising American deaths and frustration with the Afghan government.

    Heavy use of special operations forces is not without risk. Afghans from President Hamid Karzai to lowly village elders complain night raids offend Afghan culture and turn the population against the international coalition.

    Last spring, Vice Admiral Bill McCraven, who heads up the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command Forward, traveled to a small village in Gardez province to apologize to Afghan elders, after his troops killed two armed men during a nighttime raid in February. The elders claimed three women died in the crossfire.

    U.S. officials insist that an Uzbek militant leader was killed in a helicopter strike on his convoy Thursday in the northern province of Takhar. Karzai and the local governor dispute this, saying the convoy contained a candidate for parliament his campaign workers.

    A U.S. defense official here says such armed actions are the exception. The official said one special operations task force recorded no shots fired in 973 out of 1,225 missions in the 12 months ending in August. The targets simply gave up without a fight. The official added up to 10 Afghan special forces troops take part in each raid, often in the lead, when the force reaches the target.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe classified operations.

    U.S. officials believe the increased operational tempo by such forces over the past year has begun to bite into the insurgent network in the central part of Helmand province, a southern area that has seen some of the bloodiest fighting of the past two years.

    U.S. intelligence has tracked a breakdown in regular communications between local commanders in Helmand and their leadership in Quetta, in the border region of Pakistan, according to defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

    There is anecdotal evidence, the officials say, that resentment is building in the midlevel ranks of the Taliban, aimed at the top commanders who are safely ensconced in Quetta or in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan.

    Still, the senior U.S. official in Kabul concedes spec-ops forces have not yet reversed the Taliban's momentum nationwide.

    There's progress in some areas, he said, but "we clearly need to do more in others."

    Kimberly Dozier reports on intelligence and counterterrorism for The Associated Press in Washington.

  • 09/02/2010 3:25 PM | Anonymous

    FORT BENNING, Ga. undefined The 75th Ranger Regiment has refined its assessment and selection process to expand the training and evaluation windows for potential candidates.

    The unit is sending some Soldiers straight to Ranger School from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and Small Unit Ranger Tactics course, instead of to a battalion and deployment. The first two to take that route undefined SGT Joshua Fish and SPC Brendan Smith undefined graduated Aug. 27.

    “What makes these guys unique is they’re the first to graduate from RASP 1 and go on to Ranger School,” said SFC Tyson Crosby, NCOIC of RASP 1. “Normally how it works, a guy will graduate from RASP 1, he’ll go to his battalion, he’ll train up and he might do one or two deployments ... Then, when his leadership determines he’s ready to go to Ranger School, they’ll send him to SURT first. The difference here is these guys have never been to a battalion.”

    RASP 1 replaced the regiment’s Ranger Indoctrination Program in January, Crosby said. The instruction period for RASP 1 is eight weeks long, compared to four under the old RIP system. RASP 1 is for pay grades E-1 to E-5, while Soldiers E-6 and above undefined including officers undefined go through RASP 2.

    He said the adjustments were made to give the regiment more time to scrutinize prospective unit members. Under the RIP, the top 5 percent of graduates were sent to Ranger School, as selected by cadre.

    “We want the best guys in the (75th) Ranger Regiment,” he said. “The longer we have to assess and select them and make sure they’re performing, the better … That’s the reason we changed it, so we continue to select the best guys for service in the Ranger regiment.

    “When it comes down to it, one really good guy or great guy is better than three average ones.”

    Smith’s journey went from one station unit training and Airborne School to RASP 1 and SURT, a three-week regimental program that mirrors the Warrior Training Center’s Pre-Ranger Course. Then came 61 days in Ranger School.

    Fish, who was already in the Army, started at RASP 1 and SURT but had to go to Ranger School before joining the regiment. All Infantry sergeants seeking an assignment at the 75th must be Ranger School graduates. Soldiers in lower ranks can attend at a later date, even if they failed on first attempts.

    “These guys are the first to complete the new pipeline,” said SFC Eric Bohannon, the regiment’s SURT NCOIC. “We’re definitely looking for quality over quantity.”

    The regiment must send 550 to 600 Soldiers through RASP 1 each year to generate enough Skill Level I Rangers to meet operational demands undefined based on historical loss-and-retention trends, according to data provided by the unit.

    The first RASP 1 class graduated in March. The eighth completed the course Sept. 2. The most recent group began with 165 Soldiers, but only about 40 graduated Thursday. The regiment’s objective is nine RASP 1 classes a year.

    The last SURT class, which set out with 84 Soldiers, sent only 48 to Ranger School, Bohannon said.

    Crosby said there are greater advantages within this setup than what was done before under RIP.

    “It’s more time that my cadre have with the candidates,” he said. “It’s more time they get to see them in different situations to make sure they’re picking the right guys, because what you don’t want are guys who score 300 on their PT test, they road march really fast, they’re really strong, but they just don’t have what it takes. Mentally, their learning curve is too steep to be in this type of unit. We need smart guys, too.”

    VOLUNTEER FOR DUTY

    To meet minimum requirements for the RASP and assignment in the 75th Ranger Regiment, all Soldiers must be:

    * An active-duty Army male * A U.S. citizen * 107 or higher in General Technical score on ASVAB test * 240 or above (80 in each event) in Army Physical Fitness Test score * Airborne-qualified or agree to attend Airborne training prior to assignment * Eligible to obtain a secret clearance

    * Soldiers interested in joining the unit should call 706-545-5124 or send an e-mail to 75recruit@soc.mil. For more information, visit https://www.infantry.army.mil/75thranger.

  • 09/02/2010 2:12 PM | Anonymous

    FORT BENNING, Ga. undefined SGT Joshua Fish said tales from a former platoon sergeant he served with in Germany lured him into the 75th Ranger Regiment. SPC Brendan Smith was a college graduate looking to escape his desk job.

    They now have the distinction of being the first Soldiers to vault directly out of the unit’s Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and graduate from Ranger School without first joining a battalion.

    “I was in the ‘Big Army’ before, and figured if you’re going to go to war with someone, I’ll go to war with the best,” said Fish, 22, of Curwensville, Pa. “It was pretty challenging from start to finish, mainly the length of it. But I definitely got good training out of it. You’re around the cadre all the time, so you see what right looks like (and) strive to look like them.”

    Smith said he attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and became a recruiter for an engineering firm. But the 24-year-old native of Springfield, Vt., was seeking a tougher challenge outside his comfort zone.

    “In the back of my mind, I always wanted to be a Ranger. I wasn’t getting any younger, so now’s the time to do it,” he said. “I wanted to be a cut above, I wanted to be part of a more elite group.”

    Smith said he had some “very challenging days” along the way. There were 318 to be exact, from the moment he reported at the 30th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) until Ranger School graduation August 27.

    “The rewards outweigh the hard days, by far,” he said.

    Fish said he believes changes this year in the regiment’s assessment procedures will pay long-term dividends.

    “The selection process is very good, really in-depth,” he said. “They put you in challenging situations to see how you react, and basically base it off that. You’re constantly in a leadership position there … so you’re constantly being evaluated on your leadership skills, and just your personal motivation also, whether you want to be there or not.”

    Smith is headed to the regiment’s 1st Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., while Fish joins 3rd Battalion at Fort Benning.

  • 08/27/2010 3:31 AM | Anonymous

    Funeral services for Army Sgt. Martin A. Lugo Jr. have been rescheduled as follow:

    Visitation:

    Friday August 27, 2010 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (rosary at 7:00 p.m)

    Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church

    1946 E. Lee St., at North Campbell Avenue

    Tucson, AZ 85719

    Funeral Services:

    Saturday August 28, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.

    Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church

    1946 E. Lee St., at North Campbell Avenue

    Tucson, AZ 85719

    Burial:

    Immediately following funeral services

    Holy Hope Cemetery

    3555 N. Oracle Road

    Tucson, AZ 85705

    (520) 888-0860

     

    Orininal story: U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Martin A. Lugo killed in combat (08/18/2010 02:26)

    A U.S. Army Ranger was killed on Aug. 19 during combat operations while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Ranger was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

    Sgt. Martin Anthony Lugo, 24, a native of Tucson, Ariz., was seriously wounded during a fire fight with the enemy in Logar Province. He was treated immediately by unit medical personnel and was quickly evacuated to the nearest treatment facility where he later died of his wounds.

    Lugo enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 2004. He served as an ammunition handler, automatic rifleman, team leader and most recently as a squad leader in Company C, 1st Battalion.

    “Sgt. Lugo was a true warrior who died leading his Rangers in a fierce fire fight that killed a Taliban commander and 13 other Taliban fighters in Logar Province," said Col. Michael E. Kurilla, commander of the 75th Rgr. Regt. "He is a hero to our Nation, the Army and his family."

    Lugo was on his sixth combat deployment. He previously deployed three times to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.

    “Sgt. Lugo was a phenomenal warrior who was universally respected by every member of this command,” said Lt. Col. Mike Foster, the 1st Ranger Battalion commander. “He died while protecting our nation from her enemies and we will not forget his sacrifice.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Lugo family.”

    He is survived by his father, Martin Lugo; his mother Maria Marin; and, his sister Leslie Lugo, all of Tucson, Ariz.

    Sgt. Lugo’s Biography

    Sgt. Martin Anthony Lugo, 24, was a squad leader assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. He was born on April 22, 1986, and was a native of Tucson, Ariz.

    Sgt. Lugo was seriously wounded in a fire fight with the enemy during a combat operation in Logar Province, Afghanistan. He was treated immediately by unit medical personnel and quickly evacuated to the nearest treatment facility where he died of his wounds.

    He was on his sixth deployment in support of the War on Terror. He had previously deployed three times to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.

    After graduating from high school in Tucson, Lugo enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 2004. He completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantryman. Then after graduating from the Basic Airborne Course, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program at Fort Benning, Ga. Following graduation from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, Lugo was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in April 2005, where he served as an ammunition handler, automatic rifleman, team leader and squad leader.

    His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, the U.S. Army Ranger Course, the Warrior Leader Course, and the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leader Course.

    Lugo's awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge. He was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two combat stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with combat star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon.

    He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart.

    He is survived by his father, Martin Lugo; his mother Maria Marin and step-father Esteban Oropeza; and, his sister Leslie Bencic and his brother-in-law Christopher Bencic, all of Tucson, Ariz.

    As a Ranger, Lugo selflessly lived his life for others and distinguished himself as a member of the Army’s premier light-infantry unit, continuously deployed in support of the War on Terror, and fought valiantly as he served his fellow Rangers and the Nation.

  • 08/26/2010 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    Funeral services for Spc. Christopher Shane Wright, of Maysville, Ky., formerly of Jeffersonville, In. are scheduled as follow:

    Visitation:

    Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    Scott Funeral Home’s North Chapel

    2515 Veterans Parkway

    Jeffersonville, In 47130

    (812) 283-8161

    Toll Free: (888) 283-8161

    Funeral Services:

    Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

    Scott Funeral Home’s North Chapel

    2515 Veterans Parkway

    Jeffersonville, In 47130

    (812) 283-8161

    Toll Free: (888) 283-8161

    The family has requested that Shelley’s Florist, Jeffersonville, 1031 Youngstown Shopping Ctr, Jeffersonville, IN 47130 (812) 280-0808, be contacted for ordering floral arrangements.

    Burial Services:

    Additional services and burial will take place at a later date.

     

    Original story: U.S. Army Ranger Spc. Christopher S. Wright killed in combat (August 23, 2010 11:20)

    A U.S. Army Ranger was killed on Aug. 19 during combat operations while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Ranger was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

    Spc. Christopher Shane Wright, 23, a native of Tollesboro, Ky., was seriously wounded during a fire fight with the enemy in Konar Province. He was treated immediately by unit medical personnel and was quickly evacuated to the nearest treatment facility where he later died of his wounds.

    Wright enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 2004. He served as a rifleman in Co. A, 1st Bn., 5th Infantry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash.; and, later with Co. A, 1st Bn., 2nd Armor Calvary Regiment, Vilseck, Germany. Wright most recently served as a squad automatic weapons gunner in Co. C, 1st Battalion, 75th Rgr. Regt. 

    "Spc. Wright was the epitome of a Ranger - fierce warrior, incredibly competent, and dedicated to mission accomplishment. Spc. Wright died in a fire fight that ultimately killed three Taliban who were reportedly responsible for the death of two other U.S. servicemen," said Col. Michael E. Kurilla, commander of the 75th Rgr. Regt. "He is a hero to our Nation, the Army, and his family."  

    Wright was on his third combat deployment. He previously deployed once to Afghanistan and once to Iraq.

    “Spc. Wright was the epitome of a Ranger.  He was an incredibly talented young man, who volunteered to serve his Nation in a time of war and ultimately gave his life in her defense," said Lt. Col. Mike Foster, 1st Ranger Battalion commander.  “His loss is felt across the entire battalion and our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family."

    He is survived by his father, James Cochran and stepmother, Michele Cochran of Tollesboro, Ky.; and his mother, Linda Dennis of Jeffersonville, Ind.

    Spc. Christopher S. Wright Biography

    Spc. Christopher Shane Wright, 23, was a squad automatic weapon gunner assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. He was born on Jan. 31, 1987, and was a native of Tollesboro, Ky.

    He was seriously wounded in a fire fight with the enemy during a combat operation in Konar Province, Afghanistan. Wright was treated immediately by unit medical personnel and quickly evacuated to the nearest treatment facility where he died of his wounds.

    He was on his third deployment in support of the War on Terror. He had previously deployed once to Afghanistan and once to Iraq.

    After graduating from high school in Tollesboro, Ky, Wright enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 2005. He completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantryman. Then after graduating from the Basic Airborne Course, he served as a rifleman assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash., and later was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Armor Calvary Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

    In 2009, Wright was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program at Fort Benning, Ga. Following graduation from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, he was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in June 2009 where he served as a rifleman and a squad automatic weapons gunner.

    Wright's military education included the Basic Airborne Course, the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, and the Sniper Course.

    His awards and decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge. He was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with combat star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

    He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart.

    Wright is survived by his father, James Cochran and stepmother, Michele Cochran of Tollesboro, Ky., and his mother, Linda Dennis of Jeffersonville, Ind.

    As a Ranger, Wright selflessly lived his life for others and distinguished himself as a member of the Army’s premier light-infantry unit, continuously deployed in support of the War on Terror, and fought valiantly as he served his fellow Rangers and the Nation.

  • 08/25/2010 10:41 AM | Anonymous

    Interment

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 1:00p.m.

    Arlington National Cemetery

    Arlington, Virginia 22211

    703) 607-8000

    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/

    Those attending must report to the Admin Building 1/2 hour prior to start time.

    Buried at: SECTION 60 SITE 9259

     

    Viewing

    Friday August 20, 2010 - 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    Striffler-Hamby

    4071 Macon Road

    Columbus, GA 31907

    (706) 563-2372

    Memorial Service

    Saturday August 21, 2010 - 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Edgewood Baptist Church

    3564 Forest Rd.

    Columbus, GA 31907

    706)561-7954

    Internment
    Arlington National Cemetery

    Arlington, Virginia 22211

    703) 607-8000

    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/

     

    Original news story: Master Sgt. Jared N. Van Aalst, 34, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, KIA August 4 during a combat operation in Konduz Province, Afghanistan

    Master Sgt. Jared N. Van Aalst, 34, assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command was killed Aug. 4, during a combat operation in Konduz Province, Afghanistan..

     Master Sgt. Jared Van Aalst was born in Laconia, N.H., on Sept. 1, 1975. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a signal support systems specialist on Aug. 17, 1995.  He graduated in 1993 from Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth, N.H.

    After completing Basic Training, the Signal Support Systems Specialist Course, and Basic Airborne School, Van Aalst was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga., for the Ranger Indoctrination Program.

    After completion, he was assigned to HHC, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment, also at Fort Benning, where he served as a signal systems specialist.

    In the summer of 1997, Van Aalst graduated from Ranger School and returned to 3rd Bn., where he continued his duties for another year before reclassifying into the infantryman military occupational specialty.

    In August 1998, Van Aalst attended Sniper School then returned to HHC, 3rd Bn., as a sniper team leader later transitioning to squad leader in August 1999. After serving for two years as a squad leader, he was selected as an instructor and a shooter in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning. He served in that position for two years before returning in September 2003 to HHC, 3rd Bn., as a sniper platoon sergeant.

    Shortly thereafter, he deployed on his first combat rotation to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, then to Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq before moving in 2005 to Co. A, 3rd Bn., to serve as a platoon sergeant. As a platoon sergeant, he deployed twice to Iraq in 2005 and again to Afghanistan in 2006.

    Van Aalst returned to HHC, 3rd Bn., as the noncommissioned officer in-charge of the Reconnaissance, Sniper and Technical Surveillance Detachment. He deployed to Afghanistan again in 2006, for his fifth combat deployment.

    In July 2007, Van Aalst was assigned as the chief instructor and writer to 'C' Co, 2nd Bn., 29th Infantry, at Fort Benning, where he served for one year before being selected in 2008 as a special operations team member, U. S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N. C.

    His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger School, Sniper School, Warrior Leader Course, Static Line Jumpmaster, the Combat Lifesaver Course, Special Operations Target Interdiction Course, Infantry Advanced Leader’s Course, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, Infantry Senior Leader’s Course, Pathfinder Course, the Advanced Land Navigation Course, and the Military Free-Fall Course.

    He was posthumously recognized with a second Bronze Star Medal, a third Purple Heart Medal, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

    His other awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, seven Army Achievement Medals, five Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Distinguished Pistol Shooting Badge, Distinguished Rifleman Badge, Excellence in Competition (Pistol) Badge, and the Ranger Tab. He also earned five Overseas Service Bars.

    Van Aalst is survived by his wife, Katie Van Aalst, daughters Kaylie and Ava all of Pinehurst, N.C.; and his parents, Neville and Nancy Van Aalst of Hawthorne, Fla.

     

  • 08/24/2010 5:40 PM | Anonymous

    The 75th Ranger Regiment has scheduled the 2011 Ranger Rendezvous for July 25 to 28, 2011 at Fort Benning.

    Ranger Rendezvous is a unit tradition to bring the entire Regiment together for the 75th Ranger Regimental change of command. The days leading up to the ceremony are filled with Ranger demonstrations and events.

    Col. Michael E. Kurilla will relinquish command to Col. Mark Odom on the National Infantry Museum Soldier’s Field. Col. Odom was previously the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment Battalion Commander.

    Traditional events include the mass tactical airborne operation where 2,000 Rangers conduct an airborne assault onto Fryar Drop Zone. Other traditional events include Regimental physical training, sporting competitions, boxing and combatives, a no-host barbecue with entertainment, as well as two ceremonies honoring our Ranger veterans.

    A more detailed schedule of events will be provided in early 2011. For more information, contact the Regimental Public Affairs Office at 706-545-4260 or email at 75rgrpao@SOC.MIL.

  • 08/17/2010 6:23 PM | Anonymous

    Face of Defense: Command Sergeant Major Wraps Up Tour

    By Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta
    International Security Assistance Force

    KANADAHAR, Afghanistan, Aug. 17, 2010 – The International Security Assistance Force's senior enlisted leader completed his 100th and final battlefield circulation Aug. 13.

    Since Aug. 4, 2009, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael T. Hall has traveled more than 265 days to various combat outposts, forward operating bases, camps and bases scattered throughout Afghanistan. He's also made 12 overseas trips to NATO units in Europe and the United States to brief them on counterinsurgency strategy before they deploy to Afghanistan.

    Most importantly, Hall goes to the front lines to listen to troops, see what they see and do what they do for few days and nights. Then he takes back their comments and suggestions, along with his observations, to the ISAF commander.

    Last year, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, then the ISAF commander, asked Hall to come out of retirement to serve as the ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan command sergeant major. He has continued in that role during the transition period since Army Gen. David H. Petraeus took the ISAF reins July 4.

    "I was tasked by the commander of ISAF to help change the mindset of ISAF forces," Hall said. "You can write things, and the chain of command can pass [the intent down]. But the commander wanted to ensure the troops at the lowest leader level, that first-line supervisor, understood his intent. What was being asked of troops was hard, and they had to believe in it.

    "By being out there with them,” he continued, “I could explain the intent and also get feedback so we could modify our strategy based on what was working and what wasn't. This is a battle of perception of the Afghan people, and the forces at the lowest level will be the ones to win this, not the people in [the Afghan capital of] Kabul."

    In addition to traveling three to five days a week for his own battlefield circulations, Hall also would accompany the ISAF commander twice a week on trips around the country to gather troop feedback.

    "I tried to spend time with every brigade and separate battalion-sized element, covering all the services' combat, combat support and combat service support units, all the contributing nations, all the separate entities like special operations forces, provincial reconstruction teams, agricultural development teams, route-clearing units, engineers building things, training organizations, etc., trying to show that everybody was important to the fight," Hall said. "[The] goal was to spend time with them during predeployment, within a few months of them arriving, and near the end of their deployment.”

    Hall spent most of his 32 years in uniform serving in special operations. This included a two-year stint in the 1990s in which he served under McChrystal at the 75th Ranger Regiment. He also served as the command sergeant major for Joint Special Operations Command, where he helped to lead the initial U.S. invasion into Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001.

    Hall has observed significant changes and implemented some as well during his year as the senior enlisted leader for ISAF.

    "I have been able to establish a wide-ranging Internet network that regularly passed best practices," Hall said. "[I] was also able to use this 'flat' network to quickly get feedback on hot issues that needed opinions from the field in a timely manner. I think the most significant contribution has been that units coming over have been hitting the ground running as a result of providing timely information to prepare them for deployment. I have been able to explain why we do things and make folks understand the urgency and importance of what we are trying to do, to ensure we don't repeat mistakes of the past.

    "The benefit, I hope, was to be able to show [the ISAF coalition forces] the progress they have made," Hall continued. "Soldiers are at it day after tough day; they lost friends and family. They often question, are we really making progress? Is this worth it? I can never answer that hard question on whether it is worth it. Each individual must answer that, but I am able to point out the changes I observed since the last time I was there and let them know that every decision we make, we make with the soldier in mind."

    Hall said he has many memories of his deployment to Afghanistan and was proud to contribute to the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, a place he's been involved with since initial U.S. forces, including Rangers he led, entered the country in late 2001.

    On his final battlefield circulation, Hall visited four units in Regional Command South, including Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, a unit that flies F-18 jets out of Kandahar Airfield.

    "I think it was great to see the high command come in the area," said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. George Foster, the squadron’s maintenance administration chief. "It gets eyes on what the men are going through."

    Marine Corps Cpl. Juan Alas, powerline mechanic with the squadron, said he and Hall had a good discussion about his duties. "We talked about engines and ordnance,” he said. “His visit was pretty motivating."

    Hall also visited Task Force Destiny here, led by the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Campbell, Ky.

    "It's a tremendous morale boost for the soldiers,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Trevor Beharie, the unit’s senior enlisted soldier. “He's definitely a soldier's leader.

    "We're lucky to have someone of his caliber at the ISAF headquarters," Beharie continued. "He cares about the soldiers. He cares about the mission. It's evident from the moment you meet him. He understands the commander's guidance and he takes that to the field.”

    Army Spc. Ryan Egnor noted Hall’s genuine concern. "He's not sugarcoating it,” he said. “He's trying to find out if there are reasonable things he can fix."

    Prior to the Kandahar trip, Hall also made it up to Regional Command North to visit 10th Mountain Division soldiers and to accompany a foot patrol to the village of Aliabad with one of his former soldiers.

    "He's had a huge impact," Army Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese of the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. Defreese served as a platoon sergeant under Hall in the 101st Airborne Division.

    "I don't have enough adjectives to describe what he's done," Defreese said. "He's a national asset."

    Hall said spending time with troops has made it all worthwhile.

    "What I'll miss the most is the honesty and candor that you get from troops - the sense from these folks that they really understand what things in life are really important," Hall said.

    "Physically it beats you up," Hall said of his travels. "My schedule is so erratic that my body never gets to recover or get into a routine. At my age that can be a problem, but the strength and motivation I get from being around people keeps me going. Mentally, it's tough also. You spend time with people that just lost someone, or you get back and read the reports of folks you were just with. It makes you stop."

    Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, who most recently served as U.S. Army Central Command’s command sergeant major, will assume the ISAF senior enlisted leader position Sept. 1. Hall will retire again and will return to his wife and son in Tennessee. Then he'll go back to work for the defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

    As he headed into the final weeks of his tour, Hall reflected on the many positive changes he's seen over the past 13 months in Afghanistan.

    "Every organization, no matter what type or country, that has come over since about last November truly understands and believes in the counterinsurgency strategy and what we are trying to accomplish," he said.

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