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Rangers induct distinguished brigade members


By Bridgett Siter/The Bayonet

FORT BENNING, Ga. (TRADOC News Service, April 15, 2005) – The Ranger Training Brigade will host the Distinguished Member of the Brigade induction ceremony April 21 at 1:30 p.m. at Pruden Hall, brigade headquarters, on Camp Rogers. The ceremony is open to the public.

“This is one way we identify and recognize those who have influenced the way we do things here at the brigade or its predecessor, the Ranger Department,” said Master Sgt. Larry Haddix, the brigade’s acting operations sergeant major.

The following 10 Rangers will be honored:

  • Maj. Gen. John G. Van Houten – Van Houten was the first commander of the Ranger Training Command. Following the outbreak of the Korean War, he supervised the formation and training of 14 Ranger companies, which served in Korea. After seeing the exploits of these units, the commander of the Second Army, Lt. Gen. Edward Brooks said, “We’d have a better combat Army if all the men were graduates of that (Ranger) course.”

Houten followed this advice and began training individual Rangers. With uncompromising standards, he established a permanent school, the Ranger Department, to serve and raise the standards of Soldiers throughout the Army.

Van Houten is responsible for authorizing the combat veterans of these Ranger companies to wear the black and gold Ranger Tab. After Korea, Van Houten became the first Ranger Department commander, and Ranger School became a permanent fixture for elite Army training. Van Houten is known as the father of the U.S. Army Ranger School.

  • Col. Robert A. “Tex” Turner – Turner was commander of the Ranger Department from 1982-1985 and a member of the Ranger Instructor Patrolling Committee from 1966-1968. Turner implemented the desert phase of Ranger School. For more than 12 years, 132 classes and about 20,000 Rangers conducted live-fire exercises and desert training.

During his 31-year career, Turner served twice in Vietnam and earned the Silver Star for gallantry. In 1970, during an attack on Fire Support Base Henderson, Turner jumped from a hovering helicopter into hostile fire and assisted the Soldiers in their fight against the enemy. Though wounded by mortar fire, Turner continued to provide support and even carried a Soldier to the helipad for medical evacuation.

Turner is a 2000 Ranger Hall of Fame member and the honorary colonel for the Ranger Training Brigade.

  • Col. Elliot Sydnor – Sydnor commanded the Ranger Department from 1977-1980. He refined and implemented performance-oriented training, which gave instructors and students clear, non-negotiable standards for evaluation.

Sydnor commanded the 327th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in Vietnam in 1968. In 1970, Sydnor, as the ground forces commander, prepared and led the daring raid on the POW camp at Son Tay, North Vietnam.

In 31 years of service, he earned the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak-leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with “V” device and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with silver star. Sydnor was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 1992.

  • Lt. Col. Keith Antonia – Antonia commanded the 5th Ranger Training Battalion from 1999-2001. He also served as the assistant chief of the Long Range Surveillance Leaders Course and the first A Company commander of the 4th Ranger Training Battalion when the Ranger Training Brigade was established. Antonia was the distinguished honor graduate and won the Darby Award for class 4-84. He participated in Operations Urgent Fury and Just Cause.

He served in the 75th Ranger Regiment as company commander and later as the regimental senior liaison officer and regimental S-3. Antonia completed 238 parachute jumps in his 18 years on jump status.

His awards include the Bronze Star medal, Master Parachutist Badge with combat star and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

  • Maj. William Spies – Spies served eight years with the Ranger Department as an instructor, chief of the Benning Ranger Committee and the Ranger Department deputy director. Spies used his Vietnam experience with the 1st Force Reconnaissance Battalion to make training more realistic and valid. He also helped implement the change to task, conditions and standards in the Ranger course. He also implemented performance-oriented training.

Spies helped the Infantry Center form 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, staffed the first Ranger battalion-operations field manual and served as the infantry doctrine officer of the Combat Developments Command. In 2000, Spies was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.

He retired with the Legion of Merit, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

  • Command Sgt. Maj. Frederick E. Weekley – Weekley was the command sergeant major of the Ranger Training Brigade from 1987-1992. During his 25-year career, Weekley devoted his time and effort to serving with and training Rangers. He served 18 months in Vietnam, followed by a tour as ground adviser to the 81st Company (Ranger), ARVN Airborne Division. During this time, he was awarded the Silver Star and four Bronze Stars, three with the “V” device for valor, and the Purple Heart.

Weekley was the last sergeant major of the Ranger Department and the first command sergeant of the Ranger Training Brigade. He remains the longest-serving command sergeant major in the history of the Ranger Training Brigade. Weekley also served in the Florida phase of Ranger School as an instructor, first sergeant and sergeant major of the Ranger Camp before becoming sergeant major of the Ranger Department. Weekley will be a 2005 Ranger Hall of Fame inductee later this year.

  • Command Sgt. Maj. William Mixon – Mixon served as the Ranger Department sergeant major from 1967-1969. In 1959, he was the honor graduate of Class 2-60. Mixon told the Ranger story and demonstrated the Ranger standard to presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson.

Mixon helped make Army survival videos and authored FM 21-75, “Ranger Training.” After 35 years, he retired as the command sergeant major of the 18th Airborne Corps. Mixon is a 1997 Ranger Hall of Fame member and was the 2000 Doughboy Award winner.

  • Command Sgt. Maj. James H. Collier – Collier served as the sergeant major of the Ranger Department from 1974-1978. After completing two tours in Vietnam as an adviser for the Vietnamese Airborne Division and the 81st Airborne Ranger Group, Collier came to the Ranger Department with the same leadership and determination he demonstrated in combat.

He implemented task, conditions and standards in the Ranger course. He also implemented performance-oriented training. Because of his leadership, professionalism and dedication to lead from the front, superiors and subordinates alike adopted these new standards.

Beyond his significant contributions to the Ranger Department, Collier helped the Infantry Center form 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and presented them their first colors.

Collier retired after 28 years of service with the Legion of Merit, the Soldier’s Medal and Bronze Star with oak-leaf cluster. In 2002, Collier was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.

  • Command Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Kelso – Kelso served multiple tours with the Ranger Training Brigade – most notably as the command sergeant major from 1999-2002. He instituted the Distinguished Member of the Brigade program. In his 32-year military career, Kelso served 11 years with the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Kelso was inducted in 2003 into the Distinguished Member of the Ranger Regiment. He also served with the Rhodesian Light Infantry and participated in six combat parachute assaults. Kelso is currently serving the Army as the U.S. Army Infantry Center’s command sergeant major.

  • Sgt. Maj. Mike Ramsey – Ramsey served multiple tours with the Ranger Training Brigade. He also served in the 75th Ranger Regiment as a squad leader, platoon sergeant and first sergeant. He then left Ranger Regiment to become the first sergeant of C Company, 5th Ranger Training Battalion.

Ramsey’s most significant contribution to the Ranger Training Brigade has been his selfless service as a member of the Mountain Ranger Association. His tireless efforts to support Rangers and their families resulted in a significant increase in quality of life.

Ramsey retired from the Army in 1994 with the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Master Parachutist Badge.