1st Ranger Battalion
Overview
 
The 1st Ranger Battalion is an elite special operations unit of the US Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 that is currently based at Hunter Army Airfield
Hunter Army Airfield
Hunter Army Airfield , located in Savannah, Georgia, United States, is a military airfield and subordinate installation to Fort Stewart.Hunter features a runway that is 11,375 feet long and an aircraft parking area that is more than 350 acres...

 in Savannah
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

, Georgia, United States.

It was originally formed shortly after the United States' entry into World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and was modelled upon the British Commandos
British Commandos
The British Commandos were formed during the Second World War in June 1940, following a request from the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, for a force that could carry out raids against German-occupied Europe...

. Members from the unit were the first American soldiers to see combat in the European theatre when they participated in the failed raid on Dieppe
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 in France in 1942, during which three Rangers were killed and several more were captured.
Encyclopedia
The 1st Ranger Battalion is an elite special operations unit of the US Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 that is currently based at Hunter Army Airfield
Hunter Army Airfield
Hunter Army Airfield , located in Savannah, Georgia, United States, is a military airfield and subordinate installation to Fort Stewart.Hunter features a runway that is 11,375 feet long and an aircraft parking area that is more than 350 acres...

 in Savannah
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

, Georgia, United States.

It was originally formed shortly after the United States' entry into World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and was modelled upon the British Commandos
British Commandos
The British Commandos were formed during the Second World War in June 1940, following a request from the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, for a force that could carry out raids against German-occupied Europe...

. Members from the unit were the first American soldiers to see combat in the European theatre when they participated in the failed raid on Dieppe
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 in France in 1942, during which three Rangers were killed and several more were captured. Later, the 1st Ranger Battalion was sent to North Africa where they participated in the landings in Algeria and the fighting in Tunisia in 1943. In late 1943 the unit was broken up in order to raise two more Ranger battalions before it took part in the campaigns in Sicily and Italy. After World War II, the 1st Ranger Battalion has gone through a number of changes of name and composition as it has been activated and deactivated and re-organised on a number of occasions. However, the unit has lived on in one form or another since then, serving in the Korean
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 and Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 Wars before being consolidated into the 75th Ranger Regiment of which it is a part today. Recent deployments have included operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 as part of the wider global war on terrorism.

Formation

Major General Lucian Truscott
Lucian Truscott
Lucian King Truscott, Jr. was a U.S. Army General, who successively commanded the 3rd Infantry Division, VI Corps, U.S. Fifteenth Army and U.S. Fifth Army during World War II.-Early life:...

, U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, in liaison with the British General Staff
British General Staff
Chief of the General Staff has been the title of the professional head of the British Army since 1964. The CGS is a member of both the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Army Board...

, submitted proposals to General George Marshall
George Marshall
George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

 that "we undertake immediately an American unit along the lines of the British Commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

s"
in 1942. A subsequent cable from the U.S. Department of War
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

 authorized the activation of the 1st U.S. Army Ranger Battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

.

After much deliberation, Company A, 1st Ranger Battalion was constituted on 27 May 1942, and Captain William Orlando Darby
William Orlando Darby
William Orlando Darby was an officer in the United States Army during World War II. Darby led the famous Darby's Rangers which evolved into the US Army Rangers and was also made famous as a major motion picture starring the American actor James Garner in the role of Darby.-Early life:Darby was...

, a graduate of West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 with amphibious training, was chosen as its commanding officer. Promoted to major within weeks, Darby rose to the challenge of organizing the unit. Of the 1,500 men to volunteer for the original Ranger Battalion, only 600 were chosen. Eighty percent of these original Rangers came from the Red Bulls 34th Infantry Division
U.S. 34th Infantry Division
The 34th Infantry Division is a division in the Army National Guard that participated in World War I, World War II and continues to serve today, with most of the Division part of the Minnesota and Iowa National Guard. It is staffed by roughly 2,800 soldiers from the Iowa Guard, about 350 from the...

. On 19 June 1942, Company A, 1st Ranger Battalion, was officially activated.

A select team of four officers toured the existing Commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

 training camps and selected the center at Achnacarry
Achnacarry
Achnacarry is a small hamlet, private estate, and a castle in the Lochaber region of Highland, Scotland. It occupies a strategic position on an isthmus between Loch Lochy to the east, and Loch Arkaig to the west....

, Scotland for the Rangers. Here they underwent intense training. Coached by the battle-seasoned commando instructors (commanded by Colonel Charles Vaughan), the Rangers learned the basics of commando warfare. Five hundred of the 600 volunteers (83.33%) that Darby brought with him to Achnacarry completed the Commando training. Many could not endure the exercises; one Ranger was killed, while several others were wounded in training so realistic that it was executed under live fire.

1st Battalion goes active

The first Americans to see active combat in the European theater of World War II were forty-four enlisted men and five officers from the 1st Ranger Battalion. Dispersed among the Canadians and the British commandos, these men were the first American ground soldiers to see action against the Germans in the disastrous Dieppe Raid
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

. Three Rangers were killed and several captured. The first American soldier killed in Europe in WWII was part of the Dieppe Raid, Ranger Lieutenant E. V. Loustalot
E. V. Loustalot
Edward Vincent Loustalot was a U.S. Army Rangers Lieutenant from Louisiana. He was killed in action on August 19, 1942, while participating in the Dieppe Raid and is considered the first American soldier to be killed by Germans on land in World War II...

. During the mission, he took command after the British Captain leading the assault was killed. Loustalot scaled a steep cliff with his men, was wounded three times, but was eventually cut down by enemy crossfire in his attempts to reach the machine-gun nest at the top of the cliff.

North Africa

The first efforts to stop the German infiltration of Europe were by the 1st Ranger Battalion. Attempting to prevent German occupation of seaports in North Africa, the 1st Ranger Battalion spearheaded an invasion at the Port of Arzew
Arzew
Arzew or Arzeu is a port city in Algeria, from Oran. It is the capital of Arzew District, Oran Province.-Antiquity:Like the rest of North Africa, the site of modern-day Arzew was originally inhabited by the Berbers...

 in Algeria. This was accomplished by executing a surprise night landing, silencing two gun batteries, and opening the way for the capture of Oran
Oran
Oran is a major city on the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Algeria, and the second largest city of the country.It is the capital of the Oran Province . The city has a population of 759,645 , while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second largest...

.

In Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 in 1943, the 1st Battalion executed the first Ranger behind-the-lines night raid at Sened Station for the purpose of gaining information and terrorizing the enemy. Later, in March, American units were decimated time and again while trying to break through the critical mountain pass at Djbel Ank. Given this mission, the 1st Rangers undertook a twelve-mile night march through rugged terrain to reach the heights of Djbel Ank where, at dawn, the Rangers surprised the enemy from the rear, capturing two hundred prisoners and giving General Patton an opening though which he began the final and victorious battle in North Africa. Rangers played a crucial role in the battle of El Guettar
El Guettar
El Guettar is a town in central Tunisia in Gafsa Governorate. It is traditionally known for its pistachio nuts. It was the site of a major World War II battle between American forces under George S...

 which immediately followed, for which the First Ranger Battalion won its first Presidential Unit Citation (US)
Presidential Unit Citation (US)
The Presidential Unit Citation, originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation, is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and allies for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941...

.

Sicily and Italy

The early success of the 1st Ranger Battalion brought about the creation of the 3rd and 4th Battalions. The original 1st Battalion was divided into thirds. One third of the Headquarters and each company was placed in each of the Battalions 1-3-4. 3rd Ranger Battalion was Activated on 21 May 1943 at Nemours
Nemours
Nemours is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France.-Geography:Nemours is located on the Loing and its canal, c...

, Morocco, while 4th Ranger Battalion was activated on 29 May 1943 in Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

. To provide command and control for these three Ranger Battalions, the 6615th Ranger Force (Provisional) was established. This force was rounded out with the addition of the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, and the 2/509th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The battle seasoned 1st Battalion moved into their newly assigned positions and trained their Ranger colleagues. The 1-3-4 Battalions were trained under Darby in Nemours
Nemours
Nemours is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France.-Geography:Nemours is located on the Loing and its canal, c...

, Morocco and prepared for the invasion of Sicily and Italy. All four of the initial Ranger Battalions were redesignated as Ranger Infantry Battalions on 1 August 1943

Had it not been for the accomplishments of the 1st Ranger Battalion in the early entry of WWII, there would be no Rangers today. Their successful invasions in North Africa opened the sea and its ports for the Allied forces. The Allies were now able to move ships and equipment to support subsequent campaigns, enabling the later forces to successfully infiltrate enemy lines along the African coast, in Sicily, and up into Italy.

The Ranger Force targeted Salerno
Salerno
Salerno is a city and comune in Campania and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea....

 on 9 September 1943, and participated in the Naples-Foggia Campaign. Then they moved on to Anzio
Anzio
Anzio is a city and comune on the coast of the Lazio region of Italy, about south of Rome.Well known for its seaside harbour setting, it is a fishing port and a departure point for ferries and hydroplanes to the Pontine Islands of Ponza, Palmarola and Ventotene...

 on 22 January 1944. The entire 6615th Ranger Force (Provisional) was destroyed behind enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Cisterna
Cisterna, Italy
Cisterna di Latina is a town and comune in the province of Latina in Lazio, of central Italy. It was the scene of the Battle of Cisterna in January 1944.The Garden of Ninfa is located in the commune's territory....

, Italy on 31 January 1944, and was officially disbanded on 15 August 1944. The 4th Ranger Battalion suffered some casualties while attempting to break through enemy lines to rescue their comrades in the 1st and 3rd Battalions. The 1st, 3rd, and 4th Battalions were known as Darby's Rangers.

Post-World War II service

The 1st Ranger Infantry Battalion, in response to parallel missions in Berlin, was reconstituted on 1 September 1948 as Company A, 1st Infantry Battalion, and activated in the Canal Zone. It served there until it was deactivated on 4 January 1950. It was redesignated on 25 October 1950 as the 1st Ranger Infantry Company
Korean War Ranger Companies
The Korean War Ranger Companies were the United States Army Rangers of the Korean War.-History:At the outbreak of war in Korea, a unique Ranger unit was formed. Headed by Second Lieutenant Ralph Puckett, the Eighth Army Ranger Company was created in August 1950. It would serve as the role model for...

 and allotted to the regular Army and Activated on 28 October 1950 at Fort Benning
Fort Benning
Fort Benning is a United States Army post located southeast of the city of Columbus in Muscogee and Chattahoochee counties in Georgia and Russell County, Alabama...

, Georgia. This unit served in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, and was decommissioned 1 August 1951 in Korea.

As a result of budgetary considerations, the US Army spent much of the 1950s and 1960s consolidating and redesignating units that were on inactive status.

This unit was redesignated 24 November 1952 as Company A, 1st Ranger Infantry Battalion, in inactive status and was consolidated on 15 April 1960 with the 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Special Service Force, and the consolidated unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. The unit was further consolidated 6 June 1960 with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 77th Special Forces Group, and the consolidated unit was designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces (organic elements constituted 20 May 1960 and activated 6 June 1960).

World War II

  • Guadalcanal (with arrowhead)
  • Algeria-French Morocco (with arrowhead)
  • Tunisia
  • Sicily (with arrowhead)
  • Naples-Foggia (with arrowhead)
  • Anzio (with arrowhead)
  • Rome-Arno
  • Normandy (with arrowhead)
  • Northern France
  • Rhineland
  • Ardennes-Alsace
  • Central Europe
  • Luzon
  • Okinawa

Korean War

  • CCF Intervention
  • First UN Counteroffensive
  • CCF Spring Offensive
  • UN Summer-Fall Offensive

Vietnam

  • Counteroffensive, Phase VI
  • Tet 69/Counteroffensive
  • Summer-Fall 1969
  • Winter-Spring 1970
  • Sanctuary Counteroffensive
  • Counteroffensive, Phase VII
  • Consolidation I

Global War on Terror

  • GWOT (expeditionary)
  • Afghanistan Service Medal
  • Iraq Service Medal
  • Valorous Unit Award
  • Joint Meritorious Unit Award

Decorations

  • Presidential Unit Citation
    Presidential Unit Citation (US)
    The Presidential Unit Citation, originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation, is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and allies for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941...

     (Army) for the Battle of El Guettar
    Battle of El Guettar
    The Battle of El Guettar was a World War II battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign, fought between elements of the Army Group Afrika under Jürgen von Arnim and U.S. II Corps under Lieutenant General George Patton in south-central Tunisia. It was the first battle in which U.S...

  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for SALERNO
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for Pointe Du Hoc
    Pointe du Hoc
    Pointe du Hoc is a clifftop location on the coast of Normandy in northern France. It lies 4 miles west of Omaha Beach, and stands on 100 ft tall cliffs overlooking the sea...

  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for SAAR RIVER AREA
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for MYITKYINA
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for CHIPYONG-NI
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for HONGCHON
  • Valorous Unit Award
    Valorous Unit Award
    The Valorous Unit Award is the second highest unit decoration which may be bestowed upon a U.S. Army unit and is considered the unit equivalent of the Silver Star...

     for VIETNAM – II CORPS AREA
  • Valorous Unit Award for GRENADA
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for VIETNAM 1969–1970
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for VIETNAM 1970–1971
  • Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for VIETNAM 1969–1971
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for Afghanistan
  • Valorous Unit Award for Iraq

See also

  • Rogers' Rangers
    Rogers' Rangers
    Rogers' Rangers was an independent company of colonial militia, attached to the British Army during the Seven Years War . The unit was informally trained by Major Robert Rogers as a rapidly deployable light infantry force tasked with reconnaissance and conducting special operations against distant...

  • United States Army Rangers
    United States Army Rangers
    United States Army Rangers are elite members of the United States Army. Rangers have served in recognized U.S. Army Ranger units or have graduated from the U.S. Army's Ranger School...

  • Ranger Creed
    Ranger Creed
    The Ranger Creed is the official creed of the United States Army Rangers. It is also adopted by Rangers in other armed forces around the world. It was initiated by then-LTC Leuer and his Command Sergeant Major Neal R. Gentry...

  • Ranger School
    Ranger School
    The United States Army Ranger School is an intense 61-day combat leadership course oriented towards small-unit tactics. It has been called the "toughest combat course in the world" and "is the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer". The course is conducted...

  • Darby's Rangers (1958 film)
    Darby's Rangers (1958 film)
    Darby's Rangers is a 1958 war film starring James Garner as William Orlando Darby, World War II commander of the 1st Ranger Battalion. The movie was shot by Warner Brothers Studios in black and white to match wartime stock footage included in the production and was directed by William...


External links

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