Young and old...Rangers share bond.


SSSO 1&2/Plank Owner
Sep 13, 2006
Red dot in a blue state
How totally cool. Some pictures at the link...

Young and old, Rangers share bond
Generations mingle during biannual event

It took Noel Dye a while to get comfortable with the weapon, one he swore he'd never seen before in his 80-plus years.

But with a steady hand and a keen eye, the Port Richey, Fla., resident zeroed in on the targets at Ranger Joe's Laser Shot range.

"I was waiting to hear some kind of noise once I fired," said Dye, one of 22 members of the World War II chapter of the Ranger Battalion Association, in town this week for the biannual Ranger Rendezvous at Fort Benning. "There wasn't any. But I must have hit some of the target. My wife said I made a pretty good score."

Theresa Dye laughed. "He's just putting you on," she said. "He's really a pretty good shot."

Staff Sgt. Kiplanga Marisin, one of several Fort Benning Rangers invited to spend the afternoon with the men who call themselves the "wrinkled Rangers," was Dye's partner in the competition.

"This guy's pretty good," said Marisin, who, like his fellow Rangers, saw history come alive on Friday.

"These guys are teachers," said Col. Gregory Hager, the commander of the Ranger Training Brigade, "and we can learn a lot from them. They're perfect role models for the young Rangers of today."

Sgt. 1st Class Mike Snyder of Massillon, Ohio, agreed with his colonel. "I enjoy talking to these guys because they're the ones who helped start the history of the Rangers."

The camaraderie inside Ranger Joe's on Friday was obvious.

"It's this way every time we get the older guys together with the younger ones," said Jerry Styles of Acworth, Ga., whose group -- the "Sons and Daughters of World War II Rangers" -- made all of the arrangements for the veterans' trip to Columbus.

A trip which included a Friday lunch at Cup 'O Joe's Coffee Bar, an extension of the famed Victory Drive retail store in addition to attendance at Wednesday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the change of command in the 75th Ranger Regiment on Thursday.

"We used to get together every two years, but some of the veterans asked that we do it every year since their membership is dwindling," Styles said.

Strength in numbers

Dye, who is a regional chairman of the World War II Rangers, said the overall membership in the Ranger Battalion Association is approximately 500.

"It's the only time all year that most of us can get together," he said.

Former Benning commander Ken Leuer, a retired major general and the man credited with forming the first Ranger battalion in 1974, took part in the shooting competition -- as one of the younger generation of Rangers.

"When we started the battalion, most of these guys were barely 40," he said. "Now a lot of them are in their 80s. It's great to be able to bring them to events like these. At some reunions, soldiers just sit around a table and talk."

Bill Spies, a Ranger Hall of Famer from Fort Mitchell, seemed to know everybody in the room.

"I think it's important to be part of a group that you can easily relate with," he said. "Most of us have been in combat and for the longest time I was afraid to tell anybody that I was scared a lot in war. But as I talked to these 'wrinkled' Rangers I found out that they were all just as scared as I was."

Spies' group, the Worldwide Army Rangers, Inc., was one of the day's sponsors along with AA Victory Auto and Ranger Joe's.

Among the Ranger vets taking aim at the laser targets was Bob Prince, the 87-year-old Seattle native who led the raid at the Cabanatuan prisoner of war camp in 1945. The 2005 movie "The Great Raid" was based on that event.

Contact Mick Walsh at 706-571-8588