On the eve of the Army’s top competition among Rangers, the Ranger Training Brigade ushered in its 2010 class of distinguished members.
Nine active or retired Rangers and three civilian honorary inductees were immortalized during a ceremony May 6 at the Ranger Hall of Fame on Camp Rogers.
“In the ninth year of a prolonged conflict, the importance of this course remains constant to us,” said COL Douglas Flohr, the RTB commander. “Every past member of the Ranger Training Brigade and the honorary members we’re recognizing here today significantly enhanced Ranger training in one way or the other … It’s our way of thanking them for their commitment and sacrifice to this school.”
The guest speaker was LTC(R) Keith Antonia, a 20-year Infantry officer who retired from the Army in August 2001. He’s now director of cadet admissions at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.
He called Ranger School a “test of manhood” and said the vast majority of Americans have a high regard for Soldiers who make multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.
“They cannot possibly comprehend what you’re doing, but they know that it needs to be done and they respect you for doing it,” Antonia said. “Experience has taught me that Rangers are truly special men.”
Ranger training started at Fort Benning in September 1950 during the Korean War with the formation and training of 17 Airborne Ranger companies by the Ranger Training Command.
A decade ago, the RTB began inducting distinguished members to recognize contributions of the unit’s most renowned and influential personnel — past and present. Inductees are nominated by an active-duty RTB member and must have served in the brigade, Ranger Training Command, Ranger Department or contributed significantly to Ranger training.
MSG(R) Willard Langdon, an inductee and Vietnam veteran who graduated from Ranger School in 196, said it was “the most rewarding thing in my career.”
“Rangers stick together, and that’s what’s so important,” he said.
LTC Ron Millis said he’s been before numerous award and command boards in his 28-year Army career, but “this will mean the most because of where it came from.”
The ceremony’s loudest ovation went to 94-year-old Rosalie Beach, whose service to the Rangers began in September 1950 when she was hired to fill a 30-day secretary’s position. That led to a career lasting nearly 33 years — she later became a purchasing agent and retired from the brigade as a budget analyst in 1983.
“They always called me ‘the littlest Ranger’ … The Rangers led me through some of the most exciting and rewarding years of my life,” Beach said.
COL Gregory Hager’s two assignments with the RTB included a stint as commander from July 2006 to July 2008. He said Ranger School is the Army’s premier training program to prepare Soldiers for combat and leadership.
Hager ended up as operations officer for Joint Task Force Guantanamo at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was placed in charge of 1,000 guards and more than 200 detainees.
“(At first), I didn’t know how to go about it,” he said. “What did I do? I sat at my desk and pulled out my Ranger handbook … and it all came back to this place.”
CSM(R) Matthew Walker, who left the Army recently after a quarter-century on active duty, joined the inductees. He served as RTB command sergeant major from November 2005 to June 2007.
“Steel sharpens steel, they say, and these guys are doing just that each and every day and making America’s finest that much better,” he said.
Glenn Todd, a civilian inductee, played a major role in infrastructure projects for the brigade during his 45-year career with Fort Benning’s Department of Public Works. He said he’s humbled by the dedication of Army Rangers.
“My prayer is that we as Americans never … stop realizing what (Rangers) do for us on a daily basis,” Todd said.
2010 Distinguished Member of the Ranger Training Brigade inductees:
COL Gregory Hager
MSG(R) Willard Langdon
LTC John Lange
CSM Glenn Legg
LTC Ron Millis
CSM(R) Eddie Roberts
1SG(R) Bonafacio Romo
CSM(R) Willie Snow
CSM(R) Matthew Walker