1st Ranger Battalion (United States)
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|1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment|
1st Ranger Battalion Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
|Active||January 31, 1974 – present
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Army|
|Type||Special Operations Force
|Part of||75th Ranger Regiment|
|Garrison/HQ||Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia|
|Engagements||World War II
Armed Forces Expeditions – Grenada
Armed Forces Expeditions – Panama
|William Orlando Darby|
It was originally formed shortly after the United States' entry into World War II and was modelled upon the British Commandos. 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 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 and Vietnam 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 as part of the wider global war on terrorism.
Major General Lucian Truscott, U.S. Army, in liaison with the British General Staff, submitted proposals to General George Marshall that "we undertake immediately an American unit along the lines of the British Commandos" in 1942. A subsequent cable from the U.S. Department of War authorized the activation of the 1st U.S. Army Ranger Battalion.
After much deliberation, Company A, 1st Ranger Battalion was constituted on 27 May 1942, and Captain William Orlando Darby, a graduate of West Point 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. On 19 June 1942, Company A, 1st Ranger Battalion, was officially activated.
A select team of four officers toured the existing Commando training camps and selected the center at Achnacarry, 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. Three Rangers were killed and several captured. The first American soldier killed in Europe in World War II was part of the Dieppe Raid, Ranger Lieutenant E. V. Loustalot. 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.
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 in Algeria. This was accomplished by executing a surprise night landing, silencing two gun batteries, and opening the way for the capture of Oran.
In Tunisia 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 which immediately followed, for which the First Ranger Battalion won its first Presidential Unit Citation (US).
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, Morocco, while 4th Ranger Battalion was activated on 29 May 1943 in Tunisia. 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, Morocco and prepared for the invasion of Sicily and Italy. Following the 1st Ranger Battalion success at the Amphibious Battle of Gela, 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 on 9 September 1943, and participated in the Naples-Foggia Campaign. Then they moved on to Anzio on 22 January 1944. The entire 6615th Ranger Force (Provisional) was destroyed behind enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Cisterna, 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
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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 inactivated on 4 January 1950. It was redesignated on 25 October 1950 as the 1st Ranger Infantry Company and allotted to the regular Army and Activated on 28 October 1950 at Fort Benning, Georgia. This unit served in the Korean War, 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).
Campaign Participation Credit
World War II
- Algeria-French Morocco (with arrowhead)
- Sicily (with arrowhead)
- Naples-Foggia (with arrowhead)
- Anzio (with arrowhead)
- Normandy (with arrowhead)
- Northern France
- Central Europe
- CCF Intervention
- First UN Counteroffensive
- CCF Spring Offensive
- UN Summer-Fall Offensive
- Counteroffensive, Phase VI
- Tet 69/Counteroffensive
- Summer-Fall 1969
- Winter-Spring 1970
- Sanctuary Counteroffensive
- Counteroffensive, Phase VII
- Consolidation I
Armed Forces Expeditions
- Grenada (with arrowhead)
- Panama (with arrowhead)
Global War on Terror
- GWOT (expeditionary)
- Afghanistan Service Medal
- Iraq Service Medal
- Valorous Unit Award
- Joint Meritorious Unit Award
- Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for the Battle of El Guettar
- Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for SALERNO
- Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for Pointe Du Hoc
- 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 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 http://www.dma.state.mn.us/redbull/history1.html.
- "Lineage and Honors Information". Center of Military History. United States Army. 1 July 2003. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- Michelle Tan (31 October 2012). "Rangers awarded medals for Afghanistan heroics". Army Times (Gannett Government Media Corporation). Retrieved 5 November 2012.
- Joyce E. Marrow (16 December 2009). "General Orders No. 2009-15". Headquarters. United States Army. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
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- Darby's Rangers Tribute Site.
- Oral history interview with Raymond T. Sadoski, a member of Darby's Rangers during WWII from the Veterans History Project at Central Connecticut State University
- Photographic history of Company H, 75th Infantry, (Ranger) in the Vietnam War.
- U.S. Army Rangers roll of honor, awards and images.