This week I had the privilege of attending Ranger Rendezvous 2011 and the events surrounding the Change of Command from COL Kurilla to COL Odom. Boone Cutler, author of Voodoo in Sadr City again guest-hosted The New American Veteran where he interviewed Jon Collins, of the Jon Collins Band.
Collins is releasing a new album, with the title track Hero. Hero is dedicated to the US service men and women who have been injured during the last ten years. A portion of the proceeds from this song will directly benefit organizations that work with and for wounded veterans. Go to this website to learn more about the efforts to raise funds to produce the music video, and make a donation to help them out! Listen to the interview here, and if you haven’t listened to the Gary Sinise interview, go here for the archive.
Now to Ranger Rendezvous.
Day One featured Rangers from the Regiment parachuting onto Fryar Drop Zone and conducting a small raid demonstration and extraction by Osprey. Later that day Plankholders (original 1/75 members) and other Rangers socialized at the Fort Benning Officer’s Club and the US Army Ranger Association held a social at the Doubletree Hotel.
Day Two featured a Regimental three-mile run, the State of the Regiment Brief and selected individuals inducted as Distinguished and Honorary Members of the Regiment. Some very interesting details from the State of the Regiment Brief:
- The Regiment has increased in size, with an authorized strength now exceeding 3,500 Rangers.
- The Regiment has 55 Military Occupational Skills (MOS)
- Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) has drastically altered attrition. Pre-RASP, Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) screened Rangers and sent them straight to a battalion. Approximately 70% of RIP students graduated, and the Regiment’s Release for Standards (RFS) rate approached 40%. Now RASP graduates about 39% and sends them on to battalion and the RFS rate is less than 12%.
- The Regiment has suffered 55 Killed in Action and 551 Wounded in Action. Eight Rangers remain in long-term hospitalization.
- Thirteen service dogs have given their lives, saving Rangers in the process.
- The ideal RASP candidate GT score is 107 and the average score of Rangers in Regiment is 109.
- Regiment has a new and strong partnership with the basic training units at Benning, with Drill Instructors on the lookout for potential Rangers. This is an opportunity for enlistees not under Ranger contract to have the opportunity to go to RASP, if they meet basic screening and eligibility requirements.
- There is a new MOS skill identifier for an NCO who is Ranger qualified (i.e. graduate of Ranger School) and has served two years in Regiment – “U”
- A Ranger Battalion is averaging 100 combat missions per deployment, and has experienced as high as 200.
- The Regiment has been in continuous combat for 3,569 days as of the Change of Command. It is on the 15th four month combat rotation deployment.
- “To be honored to serve among the Regiment is honor enough for any man”
- “There is no greater accolade than to be able to say, ‘I am a Ranger'”
- “This Regiment bears the burden of our Nation’s war on terror”
- “I never deserved the honor (of serving in the Regiment) but it defined me”
That evening the 75th Ranger Regiment Association held a packed social at the Holiday Inn.
Day Three featured Regimental sporting, combative and other events, selected Rangers (including Mike Schlitz) being inducted into the Order of Roger’s Rangers at Regimental HQ, the Ranger Hall of Fame Induction, and Ranger Social hosted by the Regiment with Keni Thomas entertaining the crowd.
Day Four concluded the week’s events with the Regimental Change of Command.
Here’s the link to the full set of photos.
Ranger Rendezvous video playlist (youtube)