Sua Sponte  – US Army Rangers in the Modern Era
Part Two  –  Rangers in World War II
by James L. Rairdon, DM, FLMI

with thermite grenades, and smashed the sights of a third with his rifle butt. Sprinting back to his platoon he collected more thermite grenades, and returned to destroy the remaining weapons. The Germans counter attacked forcing the Rangers into a tight defensive posture. Some reinforcements and ammunition had been received from the 5thRanger Infantry Battalion, but the 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion attached to the 116th

    Infantry Regiment, 29thInfantry Division, had held their ground, with approximately 50 of the original 200-man force remaining as they were relieved on the morning of 8 June (Baker, 2010).

    For their heroic deeds during this battle, the following members of the 2ndRanger Infantry Battalion were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross: LTC James E. Rudder; CPTs Edgar L. Arnold, Ralph E. Goranson and Otto Masny; 1LT Francis W. 'Bull' Dawson, Robert T. Edlin and William D. Moody (posthumously); 2LT George W. Kerchner; FSG Leonard G. Lornell; SSG Gail H. Belmont and Herman E. Stein; TSG Rex D. Chark and John W. White; SGT Julius W. Belcher, William J. Courtney and Theodore A. James; and PFC William E. Dreher Jr. (Baker, 2010).

    Back in Gertmeter and the Huertgen Forest, LTC Rudder was promoted to COL and transferred to the 109thInfantry Regiment, 28thDivision. CPT George S. Williams assumed command of the 2ndRanger Infantry Battalion and was promoted to Major. For its remarkable achievements, the 2ndRanger Infantry Battalion received the Presidential Unit Citation, and FSG Leonard G. Lornell was promoted to SGM. He continued to excel, and on 7 October, Sergeant MAJ Leonard G. Lornell became the first member of the 2ndRanger Infantry Battalion to receive a battlefield commission (Baker, 2010).

    The 5thRanger Infantry Battalion, commanded by LTC Max F. Schneider, conducted an amphibious assault during the Normandy Invasion onto OMAHA Beach. It was following that assault when Brigadier General Norman Cota, deputy commander of the 29th Infantry Division, ran forward through a gap in the wire and ordered the huddled infantrymen to follow him. They did. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his courage and leadership. Attaining the necessary foothold to re-group his men, he gave the historic command to LTC Schneider, commanding the 5thRanger Infantry Battalion and the remnants of the 2ndRanger Infantry Battalion, “...Rangers, lead the way!” (Baker, 2010).

    For their heroic actions during the June invasion of Normandy, the Distinguished Service Cross was awarded to the following members of the 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion: Lieutenant Colonel Max F. Schneider, Major Richard P. Sullivan, Technical Sergeant Howard D. McKissick and posthumously to Private First Class Leo G. Samborowski (Baker, 2010). The 2ndRanger Infantry Battalion was disbanded on 23 October 1945 at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia. The 5thRanger Infantry Battalion was disbanded in Austria, with formerly assigned personnel returning through the Boston Port of Embarkation on 21 October

and formally inactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts the following day. World War II campaign participation had included Ardennes, Alsace, Central Europe, Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland (Baker, 2010)

6th Ranger Battalion

    The 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion was constituted on 16 December 1940 as the 98th Field Artillery Battalion, activated at Fort Lewis, Washington on 13 January 1941, and assigned to the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. The 98th Field Artillery Battalion was converted and re-designated on 26 September to become the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion, activated at Hollandia, New Guinea, and, following combat operations, moved on 17 October to the Philippines (Baker, 2010).

    The 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion was the first American force to return to the Philippines with the mission of destroying coastal defense guns, radio and radar stations, and any other communications and defensive measures in Leyte Harbor. During a storm three days prior to the main assault, the battalion landed from destroyers onto islands in Leyte Bay. From there they successfully completed their missions with scant hours to spare (Baker, 2010).

    Reports of American prisoners of war began filtering through to the U.S. Sixth Army as it landed in the Philippines in January. Deciding upon caution, a 121 man force was selected by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci, commander, 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion, who led the raid. The force comprised Company C, reinforced with the 2nd Platoon, Company F, 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion and approximately 500 Philippine guerillas, to lo- cate and rescue the prisoners from Cabanatuan Prison. Guided by the Alamo Scouts of the Sixth Army, and guerrillas, the rescue party departed during the afternoon of 27 January 1945, and after crossing the Talavera River, established a mission support site eight kilometers from the prison camp. They force-marched for 29 miles into enemy territory. The Alamo Scouts conducted area reconnaissance, reporting a Japanese division moving along the Cabu River. The rescue attempt was delayed for 24 hours to allow the Japanese force to depart the area. On the evening of 30 January Captain Eduardo Joson established roadblocks to the southwest and northeast of the camp, and positioned approximately 300 guerillas at ambush sites. The reinforced company approached the camp, crawling almost a mile across open terrain, then upon a signal flare fired by Captain Robert W. Prince of Company C, the attack was launched killing the guards with their initial, violent assault. Company C and the Alamo Scouts demolished the front gates and guards, as Company F burst erupted the rear gate. More than 300 Japanese soldiers were killed during the fierce attack, which lasted no more than 20 minutes.

    Two Rangers were killed and ten wounded, but by 2100 hours 516 prisoners had been ferried across the river on their way to friendly lines. Many of the prisoners were too weak to move and had to be carried or moved in carts for about 11?2 miles to a convoy of trucks and ambulances that had advanced behind the attacking force (Baker, 2010).

    A posthumous award of the Distinguished Service Cross was made for the 7 January gallantry of Company Commander Captain Robert W. Prince. 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion was in-activated on 30 December at Kyoto, Japan. World War II campaign participation had included Leyte, Luzon and New Guinea (Baker, 2010).

    As we have seen the National Command Authority, it is infinite wisdom decided to disband all Ranger and ranger-type units after the war. This was a decision that would be repeated until the 1970s.

Rangers Lead the Way
Next Month - Part Three Korea and Vietnam

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