Ranger reunion to unlock door to past



Ranger reunion to unlock door to past

WWII, other veterans eager to trade stories at Columbus event

BY MICK WALSH - mwalsh@ledger-enquirer.com --

Membership in the Ranger Battalions Association of World War II is dwindling.
In fact, when Jerry Styles, president of a group called the Sons and Daughters of World War II Rangers, began making plans to bring members of the association to Columbus for the Aug. 6-9 Ranger Rendezvous, he expected to make reservations for 35.
That number's down to 30.
"You know that they're dropping from our ranks much too fast," said Styles, an Acworth, Ga., resident and son of a Army Ranger. "We hope you all take time that week to seek out these soldiers, listen to their stories and thank them for their service."
Styles, whose dad Clarence survived the D-Day landing only to die in a traffic accident four years later, helped start the organization that assists aging soldiers attend reunions such as the Rendezvous.
"These men will not only be able to share their war stories with the citizens of Columbus but with the soldiers of the 75th Ranger Regiment," Styles said.
The WWII soldiers won't be the only group of retirees and former Rangers to attend the Rendezvous, which kicks off Aug. 6 with a mass tactical airborne operation with more than 1,000 Rangers, all in combat gear, parachuting onto the Fryar Drop Zone.
The four-day event is a unit tradition to bring the entire regiment together for the regimental change of command.
That will take place Aug. 9 at York Field on Main Post when Col. Richard D. Clarke assumes command from Col. Paul J. LaCamera. Clarke is a former 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment commander.
Styles, who owns his own business in the Atlanta suburb, began tracking down his father's former Army buddies five years ago. His dad brought back a red address book with him from the war, containing the names and addresses of many of his former comrades.
"I just wanted to learn more about my past," Styles said. "I never knew my dad."
That's because Styles was only a year old when his dad died.
"Three Purple Hearts and four Bronze Stars and he gets killed in a car wreck," he said.
Styles has been able to track down many of his father's friends. And he's been in contact with family members of those who have died. That's when he became active in the Sons and Daughters group.
Styles' group, and any members of the public, are invited to attend most of the events during the Rendezvous on post.
The mass parachute jump highlights the first day of the event. The Rangers will participate in a three-mile run on Aug. 7 and later form teams to compete in a stress-shoot training obstacle. The event tests Rangers on their combat skills including marksmanship and clearing obstacles.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there's an open house at the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment area. Guests will see the latest vehicles, equipment, gear and technology.
A variety of Ranger sports competitions will take place throughout the day including combatives/boxing, football, softball and tug-of-war.
The induction ceremony for the regiment's newest Distinguished and Honorary Members will be held Aug. 8. Distinguished members are inducted for their outstanding accomplishments while assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment; honorary members are inducted for their outstanding support to the regiment.
Following at 1:30 p.m., there will be the Ranger Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at Infantry Hall's Marshall Auditorium.
The week concludes with the change of command ceremony on Aug. 9.
Contact Mick Walsh at 706-571-8588