Rangers welcome 16th commander


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice
http://rangerrendezvous.soc.mil/Stories/090806 Rangers welcome 16th commander.html

COLUMBUS, Ga. (USASOC News Service, Aug. 6, 2009) -- In a change of command ceremony today, Col. Michael E. Kurilla became the 16th commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment. The fifth stanza of the Ranger Creed takes on heightened meaning as Kurilla and his Rangers stand prepared to energetically meet the enemies of this country and defeat them on the fields of battle in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Addressing a gathering of Ranger supporters at the new National Infantry Museum Soldiers Field at Fort Benning, Brig. Gen. Ray Palumbo, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C. noted the growth of the unit during outgoing commander, Col. Richard D. Clarke’s tenure. The Regiment grew more than 50 percent from 2,400 Rangers to over 3,700.

“General George S. Patton said, ‘Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.’ And, they are won by men like Rich Clarke and the Rangers you see standing before you,” he said. “Let me tell you about the combat actions of this Regiment under Rich’s leadership. To date, the Regiment has captured or killed more than 200 high-value targets in a difficult and politically sensitive operational environment … where room for error is slight, consequences of mistakes are high and the enemy’s room to maneuver is great.”

He also said Clarke lead unprecedented growth in the unit by increasing the number of low-density military occupational specialties (MOS) from cook to supply sergeant to communications specialist. Each of the three rifle battalions grew by about 200 Rangers with addition of another rifle company.

“Every man a Ranger, every man an integral part of the Ranger team,” Palumbo said.

Almost 2,000 Rangers stood before Clarke for the last time as their Commander.

“We are a Regiment at war,” Clarke said. “It is daytime here, so it is approaching early evening in both Iraq and Afghanistan, so there is most likely a Ranger element either on an objective or getting ready to go on one.”
“But, I would also highlight that every Ranger on that parade ground in front of you would trade that parade ground for the battle ground. All of them would rather be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the deserts of Iraq than on the turf of Fort Benning,” Clarke said.

“(Rangers) while deployed, all night, every night, they went on literally thousands of raids by helicopter, vehicle, by foot, and even on boats against the world’s most valuable, dangerous and elusive targets, in the worst areas, under the most threatening and demanding operational conditions,” he described. “They hounded, pursued, scared and captured or killed those who had woken up that morning and every morning planning and intending to do us harm.”

Clarke noted that the price a Ranger pays is in hard work, sweat and blood.

“I dedicate this today to those Rangers killed in combat and training over the last two years: Rangers Libby, Dillon, Ganczewski, McDowell, Gathercole, Duncan, Rudd, Roulund, Davis, McGhee, Kopp. May we continue to pass their names and deeds to live on in perpetuity.”

“To the Gold Star Family members, thank you… if the men in this Regiment stand tall, and I believe they do, it is because they stand on the shoulders of the heroes who preceed them,” Clarke said of those Rangers who lived the Ranger Creed and shouldered more than their share of the task … 100 percent and then some, as the third stanza (of the creed) reads.”

Kurilla is returning to Fort Benning where his Army Ranger career started in 1991 as a rifle platoon leader with 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and a deployment to Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy. He left his command of 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash., in July 2008 after two years and multiple combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Every day for the last eight years, Rangers have gone out into the night and boarded a helicopter, plane, Stryker, MRAP or humvee, and without fanfare or recognition carried the weight of the nation’s future on their shoulders,” Kurilla said when he asked Family members, guests and visitors to focus on the Rangers standing on the parade field and the other 40 percent of the Regiment currently deployed in combat.”

“If you do not remember a single word from today – never forget the Ranger spirit … that lives in every man you see before you today,” he said.

A West Point graduate in aerospace engineering, Kurilla served with other historic Army units such as the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy, and the 24th Infantry Division. He grew up in Elk River, Minn., and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Regis University, and a Master’s degree in National Security Studies from the National War College.

As Clarke leaves his Ranger unit, he no doubt carries the last stanza of the Ranger Creed with him to his next assignment at Fort Bragg, N.C. “Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission … “

Biographies of Clarke and Kurilla are posted at http://news.soc.mil.

For more information about the 75th Ranger Regiment and Ranger Rendezvous 2009, visit http://rangerrendezvous.soc.mil/.

For more photos of the ceremony click HERE.

Col. Michael E. Kurilla (left), incoming 75th Ranger Regiment commanding officer, receives the regimental colors fro Brig. Gen. Raymond Palumbo (center), USASOC deputy commanding general, during a change of command ceremony Aug. 6 at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga. The ceremony marked the official completion of Ranger Rendezvous 2009. (Photo by Sgt. Tony Hawkins, USASOC PAO)