Rangers lead the way: 10 inducted into Hall of Fame at Benning

benw@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 16, 2014 

When he and nine other Rangers were inducted into the 22nd annual Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning on Wednesday, retired Brig. Gen. Herbert J. Lloyd was thinking about soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

“I want to represent those fellows who are in their graves, and frankly I can’t not begin to explain why it’s not me,” Lloyd said after the ceremony in Marshall Auditorium at McGinnis-Wickam Hall. “Sometimes, it’s been a guilt trip. Why was it them and not me?”

Hosted by the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade and the 75th Ranger Regiment, the event is held to honor the contributions of America’s elite fighting force.

Joining Lloyd to receive a bronze Hall of Fame Medallion included Lt. Gen. John LeMoyne, commander of Fort Benning from September 1999 to October 2001; Lt. Gen. Dell Dailey, Col. Robert Guy, Col. Robert Tonsetic, Command Sgt. Maj. James Fowler, Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Greer, Sgt. Maj. Peter Bacerra, Master Sgt. Kenneth Bachmann and Staff Sgt. Calvin Rollins.

To be eligible for the nomination, a soldier must be a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School and served in a Ranger unit in combat. The soldier also must be separated, retired or deceased from active military service for at least three years.

“This is the highest honor that’s been bestowed on me in my lifetime,” said Lloyd, a native of Hope, Ark. “I want to try to represent the American community the best I possibly can.”

After his medallion was placed around his neck, Lloyd asked the crowd to recognized Col. Nguyen Minh, a member of the Vietnamese Army who served with Lloyd and fought together. When the war ended, Lloyd helped Minh relocate to the U.S.

“We have been together for 47 years,” Lloyd said. “I first met him in 1962. He has been wounded nine times. He was able to escape, and he and his family came out with the clothes on their backs. They have been very successful, and they are living the American dream.”

Minh praised the general’s efforts to help his family in America. “He helped me to raise my children as my family is today,” Minh said. “If I don’t have General Lloyd, my family don’t live.”

For Tonsetic, serving with Ranger noncommissioned and commissioned officers was one of his proudest moments during his 27 years of service. He recalled soldiers in the Vietnamese Ranger Battalion and soldiers who didn’t come home but whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.

Tonsetic was in Vietnam in 1968 during the first night of the Tet Offensive. He led an attack against the 275th Viet Cong Regiment attacking U.S. forces. All didn’t return home.

“I think of these men everyday of my life,” Tonsetic said. “I try to get to the wall two times a year, Veterans Day and Memorial Day and remember those men who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Tonsetic said he never expected to be nominated for the fine Ranger honor. “I’m overwhelmed by the occasion and a bit lost for words,” he said. “Thanks to my friend who was company commander, I’m here today.”

Fowler, who was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions as a patrol leader in Vietnam in 1969, said the honor is not about him.

“This is not about a me honor,” he said. “It is a we honor. I have lived a life I could only dream about.”

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