Each of the 14 men inducted into the 18th annual Ranger Hall of Fame July 9 credited the people they served with as the reason for the honor.
The ceremony was in the RiverCenter’s Bill Heard Theatre. COL John King II, commander of the Ranger Training Brigade, said the common thread for those being honored was their willingness to sacrifice, to serve the nation and the Soldiers to their left and right.
“It’s the Ranger heritage,” King said. “The people who are being honored today are the ones who motivate today’s Soldiers.” “It’s incredible to be included in the same category as men I think of as giants — Ralph Puckett and Phil Piazza,” said SGM(R) John Edmunds. “It’s very humbling.”
GEN(R) William Kernan, the keynote speaker and president of the selection committee, said Ranger School teaches what right looks like, the training is a crucible and being a Ranger is not for the weak of heart.
“This honor is earned,” he said. “The standards are high. Rangers lead competently and confidently.”
The Rangers inducted into the Hall of Fame were introduced alphabetically. They are: LTG(R) Jared Bates, 1SG(R) William Block, SGM(R) Al Brashier, LTG(R) Carmen Cavezza, former PFC Raymond Noel Dye, CSM(R) John Edmunds, CSM(R) Joseph Gagnon, MG(R) James Jackson, CSM(R) Michael Kelso, CWO(R) Gary O’Neal, GEN(R) Joseph Palastra Jr., 1SG(R) Earl Singletary, the Honorable Eugene Sullivan and CSM(R) James Voyles.
They received Hall of Fame medallions from King and CSM Dennis Smith, RTB’s command sergeant major, or COL William Ostlund, deputy commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, and SGM John Brady, regiment operations sergeant major. According to the program, “The medallion signifies selfless sacrifice, professional excellence and remarkable accomplishment in the defense of the greatest nation in the world and to the highest ideals of service.”
“It is earned by several,” said Brashier, whose deployments include operations Provide Comfort and Uphold Democracy, “but worn by one. It is a privilege to be recognized.”
Bates, who helped GEN Colin Powell and President Jimmy Carter negotiate the surrender of the military junta on Haiti averting combat operations, said he thought the Ranger motto — Rangers Lead the Way — should have a comma, because of its dual meaning. “Rangers, lead the way is a statement and a directive,” he said.
“I served with real heroes,” said Dye, who participated in three combat invasions — Sicily, Salerno and Anzio, Italy — during World War II. “I accept this honor for the men I served with.”
“No one receives an honor like this without the past and present Rangers,” said Kelso, who was Fort Benning’s top NCO from 2002-2005. “This recognition is about being a member of a Ranger team.”