Today in Ranger history

Discussing the history of Army Rangers.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » February 17th, 2017, 8:50 am

On this date in Ranger History: February 17, 2012

America loses one of her finest sons, George Francis Kerchner, a highly decorated Army Ranger, who on D-Day, successfully led an attack on enemy gun positions and earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions, died at his home in Midlothian, Virginia. He was 93.

Ranger Kerchner enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942, and after completing infantry training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, he received his commission at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1943.

The next month, he joined 2D Ranger Battalion and began training in England for the D-Day Invasion. On the morning of June 6, 1944, Ranger Kerchner and his fellow Rangers of Dog Company landed at Point Du Hoc.

As the landing craft stopped on the beach, Ranger Kerchner, eager to be first off, stepped into a crater and water swirled over his head, which caused him to lose his rifle.

Ranger Kerchner later remembered thinking, "how could anybody really be alive on the beaches with all of the fire that was landing there?" Ranger Kerchner became angry when two of his men were hit by German machine gun fire, he figured they were shooting at him as well and he had nothing but his pistol. After all of his fellow officers were killed or wounded on the beach, he assumed command of Dog Company.

After scaling the 100 foot cliffs on ropes attached to grapnels, the objective was to destroy the 155mm guns that if in action, could bring devastating fire on the landings on Utah and Omaha beaches.

At one point, Ranger Kerchner and 15 of his fellow Rangers were cut off from the main body of Rangers atop of the Pointe, and for two and one half days, they would fight tenaciously to hold their positions against counter attacking Germans.

In one of Ranger Kerchner's wartime diary entries, he wrote, "...June 11, 1944, went to mass, thanked God. First chance to count noses. D Co., has 8 dead, 13 wounded and 32 missing. 15 present ... ate good, shaved at last, made out report."

Ranger Kerchner would continue to serve the U.S. Army after World War II and retired in 1962 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » February 22nd, 2017, 12:08 pm

On this day in 1732, George Washington was born. Major General Henry Lee once described him as "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen!"

A speech that Coolidge gave years later, on what would have been Washington's 197th birthday, echoed these sentiments.

One thing is for sure: Our country would not have been the same without him -- if it had even come into existence at all.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » February 25th, 2017, 8:20 am

73 years ago today, the “expendable” volunteers of the 5307th Composite Unit Provisional, a top-secret guerrilla force later called Merrill’s Marauders, set off on its almost 1,000-mile march behind enemy lines in the China-Burma-India Theater to capture north Burma’s only all-weather airfield at Myitkyina. Their legacy continues to be honored by the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment whose crest is the Merrill's Marauder patch.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » February 27th, 2017, 9:03 am

Largest US tank battle lasted mere minutes

http://www.stripes.com/news/special-rep ... LRNamczUmh
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » February 28th, 2017, 8:09 am

On this day in 1752, a distant cousin of George Washington is born in Virginia. William Washington would serve as an officer in the Continental Army throughout the American Revolution. Can you believe that this Washington once tricked a group of more than 100 Loyalists into surrendering their position, despite the fact that he had no artillery?

Surely those Loyalists felt pretty silly once they realized they’d been fooled!

Washington was present early in the war as Americans were chased out of New York and across New Jersey. He participated in the Battle of Trenton and was wounded there. When the focus of the war shifted to the South, Washington went, too. He was involved in numerous conflicts during that period, including skirmishes at Bee’s Plantation, Governor Rutledge's Plantation, Monck's Corner, Hammond's Old Store, Guilford Courthouse, and Hobkirk Hill.

You think the guy got around!?

One of his more well-known victories came at the Battle of Cowpens, when he and his cavalry fought alongside Daniel Morgan and defeated Bloody Banastre Tarleton. At one point in the battle, Washington nearly got Tarleton! The British colonel was galloping away, but Washington pursued Tarleton and caught him. Washington soon found himself surrounded by other British officers. The British slashed at him with their swords, even as Washington deflected their blows.

Unfortunately, Tarleton fired a shot that took down Washington’s horse. By the time Washington found another horse, Tarleton was gone.

One of Washington’s lesser-known victories came in a skirmish at Rugeley's Mills. Washington had cornered a force of Loyalists inside a barn in South Carolina. The barn was well fortified, and Washington was outnumbered. He had about 80 men with him, compared to the Loyalist’s 112. Perhaps worse, he had small arms, but no artillery. How could he force a surrender with no cannon?

Well, Washington wasn’t going to let a little thing like no artillery get in his way!

Washington decided to use an old “Quaker gun trick.” He obtained a pine log and had it set up to look like a cannon. One soldier later recounted in a pension application that since they had “no cannon, cut a pine log; blacked the end & put it on wheels to represent one in order to deceive them in which we succeeded & took them without firing a gun.” It worked. The Loyalists surrendered as soon as they saw the (pretend) cannon.

In 1781, Washington was at the Battle at Eutaw Springs. During the battle, he was ordered to lead his cavalry in an attack. He did this, but his cavalry unfortunately had trouble getting through a thickly wooded area. Washington became entangled. He was pulled from his horse, bayoneted and captured. Fortunately, Washington survived the ordeal and was kept a prisoner of war in Charleston.

It worked out for him, though. The war was nearly over by that point. Washington ended up meeting his wife in Charleston, and he settled there after the Revolution.

Lord Charles Cornwallis once noted that “there could be no more formidable antagonist in a charge, at the head of his cavalry, than Colonel William Washington.” I wonder if he would be surprised to learn that, over time, William Washington has gotten lost in the shadow of his more famous cousin.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 3rd, 2017, 11:17 am

This Day In History: “The Star Spangled Banner” Becomes The Official National Anthem


http://americanmilitarynews.com/2017/03 ... source=ktp
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 5th, 2017, 2:47 pm

247 years ago some bad ass colonists got tired of their lack of freedom and etched their names in America's history as our founding fathers. The Boston Massacre is considered one of the most important events that turned colonial sentiment against King George III and British Parliamentary authority. John Adams wrote that the "foundation of American independence was laid" on March 5, 1770.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 8th, 2017, 8:53 am

On this date in Ranger History:
March 8, 1863

The American Civil War was fought from the Spring of 1861 to 1865. Both sides, the Union and the Confederacy used Ranger forces within their ranks. One of the more successful Ranger for the South was Col. John Singleton Mosby.

He joined the Confederate Cavalry in 1861 at the onset of the War. At one time, he was so successful operating in North-Central Virginia that the area became known as "Mosby's Confederacy."

It was on this date that John Singleton Mosby conducted what would prove to be his most notable and audacious raid. The order had been issued to assemble at Dover Mill, just west of Alde in Loudoun County, Virginia. In groups of two and three, 29 of Mosby's riders arrived amid the drizzle of a miserable day.

The objective was to penetrate Union lines to capture Colonel Percy Wyndham, the commander of a cavalry brigade, who was reported to be camped in his headquarters at the Fairfax Court House.

The mission was a vendetta for Mosby as Wyndham had resorted to calling Mosby, "a common horse thief." The Rangers moved in a cold rain through the pitch black of night and fields of mud. It was 2 a.m., before the column entered Fairfax. Quietly moving through the town and capturing sentinels, the raiding party quickly cut the telegraph wires and secured the horse stables and various other buildings.

Arriving at the building he thought housed the Union cavalry commander, Mosby was informed that Colonel Wyndham was housed in a building on the other side of town. A squad was quickly dispatched to the second site only to learn that their quarry had unexpectedly been summoned and spent the night in Washington, D.C., rather than with his troops in the field.

An interrogation of some prisoners soon revealed an even greater prize; the commander of the Vermont Infantry Brigade, Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton, was headquartered in town.

Mosby and his men forced their way into the house and found the young
25-year-old general sound asleep. The group moved back to the town square with their captives at approximately 3:30 a.m. Mosby and his men began to exfil with their Union soldier captives and a large number of Union horses.

Mosby's raid netted one Union general, two captains, 30 enlisted men and 58 horses. Not a shot had been fired nor a man wounded or killed.

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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 10th, 2017, 9:34 am

On this day in 1783, an inflammatory letter circulates among the soldiers in General George Washington’s army. The so-called Newburgh Conspiracy was afoot.

At this juncture, the war was basically over, but a peace treaty between Britain and America had yet to be signed. As the soldiers waited, they grew restless. They had been paid only on an irregular basis throughout the war. They were ready to mutiny.

On March 10, someone called for a meeting of soldiers. An anonymous letter accompanied the call for the meeting. It urged the army to take a more forceful stand: Congress needed to pay monies owed or else the army would take action! The letter proposed one of two ultimatums: Either the army could immediately disband (leaving the country unprotected) or it could refuse to disband at all. In other words, the army could attempt a military takeover.

Naturally, a copy of this shocking letter landed in Washington’s lap.

Washington immediately took two steps. First, his General Orders of March 11 denounced the meeting that had been called and instead ordered a new meeting on March 15. His orders required the “senior officer in Rank present . . . to preside and report the result of the Deliberations to the Commander in Chief.” Next, Washington wrote letters to the President of Congress and to a few other members of Congress to notify them of the situation.

As the meeting opened on March 15, the soldiers received a surprise. General Horatio Gates had been prepared to lead the meeting, as outlined in Washington’s general orders, when Washington himself strode into the room and asked to address the soldiers.

An officer in the room, Samuel Shaw, later described the atmosphere that day: “On other occasions he [Washington] has been supported by the exertions of an army and the countenance of his friends; but in this he stood single and alone. There was no saying where the passions of an army, which were not a little inflamed, might lead . . . .”

Washington started off by denouncing the plan that had been concocted. The plan, he said, had “something so shocking in it, that humanity revolts at the idea.” But he wasn’t finished. “My God!” he continued, “What can this writer have in view, by recommending such measures! Can he be a friend to the army? Can he be a friend to this country? Rather is he not an insidious foe?”

To close his speech, Washington intended to read a letter from a supportive member in Congress. He took the letter out and attempted to read it, but he was having trouble. He reached into his pocket for his glasses. “Gentleman, you must pardon me,” he explained off-handedly, “I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind.” This unplanned remark touched the soldiers deeply. Some began to cry.

Shaw described the scene in the room after Washington left: “He spoke—every doubt was dispelled, and the tide of patriotism rolled again in its wonted course. Illustrious man!”

Washington’s humility and sincerity saved the day. Once again, one has to wonder what would have happened to our country if any man other than Washington had been in charge of the American army.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 12th, 2017, 9:56 am

On this day in 1776, a public notice appears in Baltimore, Maryland. It beseeches the help of “our humane ladies” in the American cause. The assistance requested was rather mundane. Could the ladies provide “assistance in furnishing us with linen rags and old sheeting, for bandages”? Yet the notice serves as a reminder: The American Revolution depended upon the assistance of women, even if we hear about them less often.

Women served in many capacities! They were spies. They were nurses. A few were soldiers. Others were scouts. Many defended their homesteads in the absence of their husbands. Unfortunately, many of these tales of heroism are all but lost to history. Today, I thought I would offer one snapshot of an all-but-forgotten heroine.

Do you know about the woman who had to flee her home because the British had offered a £200 bounty for her capture? That was a lot of money back then! It was equal to 20 years pay for a typical British soldier. How must Elizabeth Burgin have felt when she learned what the British had done? Now take into consideration that she had three kids to worry about. She must have been terrified, not only for herself, but especially for her children.

Burgin’s crime? She had helped American prisoners in the New York area. We don’t know too much about which specific prisoners she helped or how she did it. But we do know that she wrote a letter to the Reverend James Calville in November 1779, asking for assistance. By then, she’d already fled the city and taken refuge in New Jersey. Fortunately, her three children were with her. She’d managed to get her family away from the British, but she’d left her possessions behind. Now, she needed help.

Her letter to Calville hints at the reason the British were so upset with her. It seems that she may have helped as many as 200 prisoners to escape!

Washington learned of the situation and soon wrote a letter to Congress on her behalf. “t would appear that she has been indefatigable,” he told Congress, “for the relief of the prisoners, and in measures for facilitating their escape.” He had taken “the liberty of directing the commissary at Philadelphia to furnish her and her children with rations till the pleasure of Congress could be known.” Congress agreed and granted her free lodging and continued food rations.

In 1781, Burgin wrote Congress again. Couldn’t she please do some work to earn her keep? She did not wish to be “troublesome or expensive to the United States.” Perhaps Congress could “direct her full employment in cutting out the linen into shirts, purchased in this city for the army, it would afford her a maintenance, until a happy change of affairs will permit her to return with safety to her native place.”

Congress did not offer her a job. Instead, it offered her a pension. She received that pension until 1787, when it is assumed that she passed away
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 15th, 2017, 8:12 am

On this day in 1781, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse takes place. It was technically a British victory—but only technically. Indeed, one member of Parliament later noted: “Another such victory would ruin the British army.”

The British had become frustrated with the status of the war in the North, and they decided to turn to the South. They hoped to win and build a base there, then use it to crush the North. The strategy worked at first. Savannah fell in late 1778, as did Charleston in 1780. In August 1780, Americans suffered another devastating loss at the Battle of Camden. This final loss prompted the replacement of Horatio Gates, who had been commanding American forces in the South. Washington’s choice, Nathanael Greene, finally took over.

Greene arrived in late 1780, just before Daniel Morgan’s stunning victory at the Battle of Cowpens. Naturally, British General Charles Cornwallis would not let such a victory go unanswered. Greene thus moved to consolidate his troops with Morgan’s and to gain reinforcements. The weeks that followed have been called the “Race to the Dan.”

In short, Greene’s troops were trying to get to Virginia and to reinforcements. Cornwallis was trying to catch them. Greene won the race to Virginia, but he gained another important objective as well: Cornwallis’s pursuit had separated him from his base of supplies. Cornwallis realized his vulnerability and turned back. By then, Greene was ready to engage.

Greene chose a spot back in North Carolina near the Guilford Courthouse. He arrived on March 14 and set up camp; he intended to attack the British the next morning.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Greene later reported to Governor Thomas Jefferson that the British “anticipated our designs and moved down upon us. We were in perfect readiness to receive them.” Greene had dispatched William Washington and “Light Horse Harry” Lee to guard two possible roads to the Guilford Courthouse. For his part, Cornwallis had ordered British soldiers to leave camp at 5:30 a.m., and he had dispatched Bloody Banastre Tarleton to move ahead of the main army.

Tarleton’s advance guard clashed with Lee on one road to the courthouse. Lee was successful in inflicting damage, then returned to report the skirmish to Greene. In the meantime, Greene had his defenders arranged in three lines of defense at the courthouse, and Americans were ready when the British finally arrived. The British forced their way through the first two lines of Americans, taking significant casualties during the process. The third line of Americans were Continentals. They were not as experienced as the British, but they were rested and better trained than militia. This group fought hard! Of the battle, Cornwallis later observed that “I never saw such fighting since God made me. The Americans fought like demons.”

The fighting ended when Cornwallis decided to fire two cannons straight into the fighting, even though it would mean taking down some of his own men. The Americans withdrew, leaving the field to the British. The British had technically won. But Greene had inflicted a great deal of damage. As he told the North Carolina Governor: “The Enemy loss is very great, much more than ours. . . . Their operating force is diminished in such a manner, that I am not without hope of turning their victory into defeat.”

Which is exactly what happened several months later when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 16th, 2017, 8:33 am

March 15, 1962 marks the start of the Vietnam Advisory Campaign, the first official campaign streamer of the war.

http://www.history.army.mil/html/refere ... ag/vn.html
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 18th, 2017, 7:39 am

On this day in 1776, the British army evacuates Boston. It was the culmination of an American effort that had begun many months earlier.

The City of Boston had been under siege by the Americans since April 1775. As the months wore on, a colonel in George Washington’s army, Henry Knox, had an idea: Why not retrieve the British cannons and artillery that could be found at Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point? Those forts had been captured by the Americans, and the cannons were available, assuming someone could make the trip with them.

The journey would be no easy feat. The forts were hundreds of miles away, near Lake Champlain in New York. By then, it was winter. Travel would be rough. But Knox said that he could do it, and Washington put him in charge of the expedition.

Knox and his brother left Cambridge on November 16, 1775. They arrived at Fort Ticonderoga several weeks later, on December 5. Knox selected 58 mortars and cannons to haul back to Boston. Historian David McCullough reports that the collective weight of these items was at least 120,000 pounds!

Knox’s plan was to ship the cannons down Lake George before beginning the laborious trip overland: nearly 300 miles. He had hired men to help him, but the trip down the lake was only an hour old when they began to run into numerous difficulties: Ice complicated the voyage. The men had to row hard in the face of rough winds. One ship sank and was bailed out.

Problems continued once they hit land. Knox had arranged for sleds and oxen to help haul the cannons, thinking that there would be snow to assist their journey. But there was no snow! Okay, so there was no snow **at first**—then there was a blizzard and **too much** snow! The convoy overcame other difficulties, too: A cannon broke through ice on the Hudson and sank. Fortunately, it was retrieved. At another point in the journey, the men had to get the cannons down steep hills. Well, you know what happens to heavy cannon being pulled down a hill, right?! That wasn’t going to work, so Knox’s men devised a system whereby the sleds were tethered to trees at the top of the hill. These tethers kept the sleds from sliding down too quickly.

Amazingly, Knox’s procession reached Washington’s army safely on January 18. McCullough describes the scene: “Knox’s ‘noble train’ had arrived intact. Not a gun had been lost. Hundreds of men had taken part and their labors and resilience had been exceptional. But it was the daring and determination of Knox himself that had counted above all.”

And the cannons changed everything! Now Washington had an advantage that he did not have before.

Washington decided to occupy and fortify Dorchester Heights, overlooking the city. The British lines would be well within range of the new American cannons, putting the British at a disadvantage. Washington determined to accomplish this feat in the middle of the night, taking the British by surprise.

The story of Dorchester Heights is enough to fill its own post! For now, suffice it to say that the fortification of Dorchester Heights was another amazing feat for Washington’s relatively untrained army. The fortifications had to be built in advance, as they could not be constructed in one night atop an icy hill. Then the pre-constructed fortifications and the cannons had to be dragged up the steep hill at Dorchester Heights, quickly and in secrecy.

The Americans managed the task in one night. On the morning of March 5, the British awoke to a surprising sight: American cannons were now staring down at them from the newly fortified Dorchester Heights. Amazing!

As a result, on March 17, the British finally evacuated the City of Boston, restoring the city to American control.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by fatboy » March 19th, 2017, 6:21 pm

Today marks the unofficial start of the second gulf war. President GWB ordered the launch of the decapitation strike and all assembled units left out of the staging camps, headed towards their designated attack positions.

Some units crossed the berm earlier, others came later. Hard to believe 14 years ago I was there in Kuwait waiting to cross the berm. Even harder to believe 14 years later we won almost every battle but seemed to have lost most of the war.

Rip for the fallen. I'll hoist one in your honor tonight.
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Re: Today in Ranger history

Post by Jim » March 20th, 2017, 10:11 am

On this day in U.S. Army SOF history......20 Mar 1943 – Darby’s Rangers attacked Italian positions at Djebel el Ank, Tunisia.

The 1st Battalion executed the first Ranger behind-the-lines night raid at Sened Station for the purpose of gaining information and terrorizing the enemy. Later, in March, American units were shot to pieces, time after time, trying to break through the critical mountain pass at Djbel Ank. Given this mission, the 1st Rangers undertook a twelve-mile night march through rugged terrain to reach the heights of Djbel Ank where, at dawn, the Rangers surprised the enemy from the rear, capturing two hundred prisoners and giving General Patton an opening though which he began the final and victorious battle in North Africa. Rangers played a crucial role in the battle of El Guettar which immediately followed, for which the First Ranger Battalion won its first Presidential Unit Citation
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