RIP – Ranger Elliott Sydnor

Colonel Elliott P (Bud) Sydnor, was a Ranger's Ranger. He commanded a battalion in Viet-Nam and led the Army element on the Son Tay Raid. He led the Ranger Department at Fort Benning (Now the Ranger Training Brigade) and was a 1992 inductee to the Ranger Hall of Fame.

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Bud Sydnor was born on June 30, 1927, in Auburn, Kentucky (pop 850). He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on September 6, 1945, and after completing Submarine School, he served aboard the attack submarine USS Raton (SS-270) with the Atlantic Submarine Fleet out of New London, Connecticut, until his discharge from active duty on January 15, 1948. He remained in the Naval Reserve until September 19, 1950. Sydnor received his commission as a 2d Lt of Infantry in the U.S. Army through the Army ROTC program at Western Kentucky State Teachers College on May 29, 1952, and went on active duty beginning August 25, 1952. After completing Infantry Officer training and Airborne School, Lt Sydnor served with the 11th Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, from February to December 1953. During this time, he completed Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. His next assignment was with the 160th and then the 23rd Infantry Regiment in Korea from January to September 1954, where he served as a Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, and Company Commander. Lt Sydnor served with the 27th Infantry Regiment in Hawaii from September 1954 to December 1956, followed by service as an airborne instructor with the International Student Division at Fort Benning from January 1957 to August 1958. After completing Special Forces training, Capt Sydnor served as a Team Commander with the 77th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from June 1959 to March 1960, and he then completed an exchange officer assignment with the British Special Air Service (SAS) in England from April 1960 to June 1961. He served with the 7th Special Force Group at Fort Bragg from June 1961 to January 1964, and during this time he deployed to Laos as part of the White Star project from October 1961 to June 1962. His next assignment was as a staff officer with the Infantry Branch at the Pentagon from January 1964 to January 1967. Col Sydnor attended Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, from January to August 1967, and then deployed to Southeast Asia, where he served as a battalion commander and executive officer with the 327th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division in the Republic of Vietnam from August 1967 to August 1968. After completing his Master's Degree at George Washington University and attending Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, Col Sydnor served with the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning from June 1970 to June 1973. During this time he trained and commanded the ground forces for the Son Tay Raid, a clandestine mission to rescue American Prisoners of War held in North Vietnam, on November 21, 1970. He served as Commander of the 1st Special Forces Group on Okinawa from July 1973 to September 1974, followed by service as Chief of the Infantry Branch with the Army Military Personnel Center in Alexandria, Virginia, from November 1974 to June 1976. Col Sydner next served as Chief of the Company Grade Combat Arms Division with the Army Military Personnel Center from June 1976 to June 1977, and then served as Director of the Ranger Department with the Infantry School at Fort Benning from June 1977 to May 1980. His final assignment was as Director of Plans and Training with the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning from May 1980 until his retirement from the Army on September 1, 1981. He earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab, Special Forces Tab, and the Enlisted Submarine Warfare Insignia. In addition to his U.S. badges, Col Sydnor was awarded the British Air Service Jump Wings, the Thai Army Jump Wings, and the Republic of China Jump Wings. He was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame on June 18, 1992. Bud Sydnor died on August 15, 2014.

His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 25, 1963, has awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel Elliott P. Sydnor, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action: Lieutenant Colonel Elliott P. Sydnor, Infantry, distinguished himself by extraordinary gallantry in action on 21 November 1970. Colonel Sydnor volunteered to command an all-volunteer raiding force organized to conduct a heliborne assault in an heroic attempt to rescue United States military personnel being held as prisoners-of-war at the Son Tay prison in North Vietnam. Colonel Sydnor displayed outstanding leadership and personal courage as he personally directed the assault on the compound and the withdrawal of the entire raid force. Colonel Sydnor's masterful command and control of the operation under the most hazardous combat conditions was exemplary. His keen mind and alertness to the constantly changing situation enabled him to effectively direct and control the actions of the joint assault force air and ground elements and maneuver them as the situation required. In order to maintain the critical control required over the complex raid operation, Colonel Sydnor unhesitatingly and fearlessly exposed himself time and time again to the enemy's small arms and automatic weapons fire. When the withdrawal began, Colonel Sydnor, with utter disregard for his personal safety, constantly stood fully exposed in the helicopter landing zone in order to direct the withdrawal and insure that not one man was unwittingly left behind. The success of the mission was directly attributed to his dynamic and fearless leadership and to the heroic example he set for his officers and men. The degree of his valorous action was further accentuated by his prior knowledge of the location of the prison compound--eighteen kilometers from the capital city of North Vietnam. Knowing full well the enemy forces were armed with automatic weapons, and the target area saturated with enemy installations, high performance aircraft and anti-aircraft defenses, Colonel Sydnor's premeditated personal risk, extraordinary heroism against an armed hostile force, and extreme devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflect great credit on him and the United States Army.

U.S. Navy 1945-1948
U.S. Naval Reserve 1948-1950
U.S. Army 1952-1981
World War II 1945 (Ceasefire)
Cold War 1945-1950, 1952-1981
Korean War 1954 (Ceasefire)
Vietnam War 1961-1962, 1967-1968, 1970