To be a U.S. Army Ranger, a Soldier must be a male U.S. citizen on active-duty status, Airborne qualified and eligible to obtain a secret clearance. The Soldier must also score well on two military tests measuring mental and physical prowess before being admitted to the 75th Ranger Regiment.
But regulations were relaxed slightly Saturday to admit a different kind of Ranger — the civilian families of regimental personnel.
Ranger Family Day gave more than 400 wives, children, parents and siblings and extended family the opportunity to see what the unit is all about. They took turns rappelling, navigating obstacle courses, riding in Striker vehicles and shooting M4 rifles.
“It’s a family, team-building event,” said Capt. Caley Langewalter, Regiment Selection and Training Company executive officer. “It’s the idea of strengthening the Ranger family. We have a very stressful operations tempo, so the stronger you make those family bonds it will inevitably make those bonds more effective.”
Sometimes the team-building meant a child encouraging a parent. Five-year-old McKenna Gaboury cheered on her mother, Renee Gaboury, right before she took the leap from the 34-foot tower at Ground Branch training area.
The event, which included bounce houses and camouflage face painting, was especially focused on children, Langewalter said.
Specialty equipment unique to the Rangers, such as certain combat communication equipment, was on display for the families, and children could try on helmets and body armor.
The family day was the first time many civilians had tested their abilities against Ranger standards.
“Taking that leap of faith was the hardest part,” said Ranger spouse Megan Groves of her rappelling experience. “But after that, it was great.”
David Conoly said his son, 10-year-old Chad Conoly, wanted to see what his cousin did in the Army as he aspired to be “a military man” just like him.
The family day, first held last year, is planned to become an annual event, said Maj. Jeremiah Hurley, assistant operations officer for the Regimental Special Troops Battalion.