Ranger Memorial honors 29 fallen Rangers

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HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. (UNS-CI, Oct. 27, 2007) – It was a hot, emotional afternoon for those gathered at Hunter Army Airfield on Oct. 18 to pay tribute to the 29 Rangers who have fallen since the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment reactivated in 1974 and to celebrate the Ranger Memorial built in their honor.
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Leuer, commander and organizer of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment’s re-activation, formed the modern day Rangers and co-authored the Ranger Creed. As he addressed the large crowd gathered at the memorial celebration, he praised Rangers past, present and future and said we should recognize the sacrifices and dedication of each one fallen.
“I knew many who went down,” he said, choking back tears. “They are always in my heart.”
The names of the fallen were read at the memorial dedication. Those 29 names were also etched into a large sheet of metal at the center of the complex, not far from concrete pavers that also bears their names.
Other symbols at the memorial include 29 palm trees planted throughout the site. A large steel dagger at the memorial’s entrance, fashioned after a commando knife, represents the “tip of the spear” for Ranger military operations.
“This memorial is an inspiration to Rangers now and forever,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Rudacille, commander of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, adding that it took five years to complete. “Rangers can take comfort in knowing that they don’t stand alone and they will not be forgotten should they be required to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
The memorial was partly the brainchild of Sheila Dudley, who has worked with the Rangers for more than 20 years and who served as the project manager of the memorial. After the death of the three Hunter Rangers killed in Afghanistan, Dudley said she and Lt. Col. Michael Kershaw, who later commanded the battalion, searched for a way to remember them.
A five-year process followed, beginning with a design of the Ranger Memorial by students from Savannah College of Art and Design’s graphic design department. Alex Zartman was among the six students who created the design. Revenue for the project came from businesses and personal contributions and from effective fundraising events that generated enough revenue to fund the project.
“I’m proud to have had a part in this,” said Zartman. “Walking up to this dedication site today and seeing all these people brought tears to my eyes. The memorial really impacts this community.
Susan Winters said the memorial is important to her. The name of her 22-year old son, Sgt. Frank Winters, is among those etched on the memorial. He died Sept. 25, 1985 when his helicopter crashed in a training accident.
“He was born to be a Ranger,” she said, adding that she still has the notes he wrote her from Ranger school that she was saving for his children.
“He had morals and determination. Rangers are cut from a different cloth; they’re a different breed of men. His devotion was my pain but it was also my pride.”
Leuer said he is proud and grateful to those who have preserved our freedom. “The ground we walk on today is a result of the sacrifices those Soldiers made,” he said.
The Ranger Memorial serves as a remembrance of those sacrifices and of the Soldiers who made them.
 

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