Men of the 75th Ranger Regiment are frequently called upon when the United States requires a hard-hitting, fast moving force who’s training far exceeds conventional infantry doctrine. And despite being among some of the newest units in the annals of Army’s history, the Rangers of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment have proudly served in some of the most intensive conflicts without question or fail – proving their motto “Rangers Lead the Way”.
Headquartered in Georgia’s Fort Benning, the 3rd Battalion is one of four units under the historic 75th Ranger Regimental flag. Formed in 1943 as an element of the 5307th Composite Unit in the China-Burma-India conflict area for WWII, the unit was consolidated and designated on August 10th, 1944 as part of F Company, 475th Infantry Regiment (Long Range Penetration Special). By 1945, with the close of combat operations in the region, the unit was inactivated on July 1st, 1945 in China. Over the next several years the unit would undergo multiple changes in designation and command to include allotment to the Regular Army in 1954, transfer to Okinawa between 1954 and 1956, and then service in Vietnam between February 1st, 1969 and March 15th, 1971. (US Army)
But in April 1984, and taking the lessons learned from Operation URGENT FURY in Grenada, a limited group of cadre began the selection process that would go on to establish one of the most intensive combat arms schools in the US Army. On October 3rd, 1984 in a ceremony presided over by then Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh, the unit was redesigned as the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Company at Fort Benning, Georgia. The entire 75th Ranger Regiment would go on cut their teeth together on December 20th, 1989 in Operation JUST CAUSE.
JUST CAUSE was focused in Panama where both the 2nd and 3rd Battalions conducted an airfield seizure of the Rio Hato Airfield while 1st Battalion went on to capture the airfields at Torriios/Tocumen. The dynamic actions of the 75th Ranger Regiment combined with their ferocity under fire led to a rapid American victory in Panama and the capture of General Noriega.
The 3rd Battalion continued to train and perform their craft, but in August 1993 they were deployed again to Somalia as part of Task Force RANGER. Over the next several months the 3rd Battalion conducted several high-risk operations consummate with their extensive skills in combat. On October 3rd, 1993 (exactly nine months since the activation of the unit) the 3rd Battalion became embroiled in an extensive and drawn-out ground conflict that began with a daylight assault made popular in the movie Black Hawk Down. The operation became the most extensive ground operation for the 3rd Battalion since the Vietnam War that not only stressed the skilled soldiers to the max, but in a maneuver dubbed the “Mogadishu Mile” it also became the harrowing experience that only the men of the Regiment can fully appreciate.
Following the disastrous events of September 11th, 2001 the 3rd Battalion immediately deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) conducting some of the initial main-line military offensive actions of the war in conjunction with special operations and other clandestine elements. On October 19th elements from the 3rd Battalion conducted a high-risk, low-level airborne assault into Objective RHINO (a desert airfield in the southwestern province of Afghanistan). In subsequent missions the 3rd Battalion also conducted a nighttime airborne assault into the BASTOGNE Drop Zone to secure a desert landing strip in support of a special operations raid.
As OEF stretched on, the 3rd Battalion was again called upon to help lead America’s efforts into Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). After several weeks into the ground assault, the 3rd Battalion carried out a successful airborne assault into the southwestern Iraqi desert near the Syrian border to secure an airfield that would serve as a launching site for follow-on ground forces into the region. This successful operation was followed on by another March 31st airborne assault to gain control of the Hadithah Dam Complex and provide critical services for Iraqi civilians. The Hadithah operation required the 3rd Battalion elements to fight off former elements of the Iraqi Republican Guard’s Hammurabi Division throughout the week until it was deemed secure. With the dam secure Regimental Headquarters could breathe easier because it was greatly feared that with the loss of control, Saddam Hussein would order the floodgates opened and drown most of Baghdad in an effort to deny Coalition Forces approaching the capital from the south.
Since 2003, the 3rd Battalion has deployed a multitude of times in support of both OEF and OIF, however a majority of their operations and details remain classified. The men of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment remains committed to high-risk operations that require their skilled expertise. As the OIF and OEF conflicts have transitioned to their peacetime roles, their positions as America’s elite soldiers has been no less demanded upon, ensuring their role in America’s history of combat arms will always maintained.
3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment Commanders Challenge Coin
Measuring approximately three inches across, the 3rd Battalion Commander’s Challenge Coin is shaped in the iconic Ranger Tab & Scroll that so many soldiers sacrifice for. Upon intial enlistment, those with “Option 40” contracts who successfully complete their advanced individual training, Basic Airborne Course, and graduate from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP), are then awarded their tan beret and Ranger Tab. Following these courses, soldiers that have been in the battalion for 12 to 18 months can then be selected for Ranger School and earn their coveted scroll. Only then is an individual authorized to wear both the beret and scroll. Those assigned to the battalion serving in a specialty MOS and don’t have the tab, must complete the course as soon as possible. As the Regiment is an all-volunteer force, any individual can attend Ranger School; however, not every individual can be assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment and must meet the prerequisite physical and skillset qualifications. In addition, Infantry Officers must have the Ranger Tab before they are assigned to a position within the Regiment.
On the coin’s Obverse is the Ranger Tab and Scroll, coated in epoxy to protect the vivid colors. The Ranger Tab was first approved for use on October 30th, 1950 and appears in a black field with gold lettering and a large yellow border. Again the Ranger Tab merely denotes the skill qualification of the individual and not that they are actually assigned to a Ranger Battalion. Below that, appears the Ranger Scroll in white and gold lettering against a red-on-black border that reads “75 Ranger RGT”. The scroll itself was originally approved for the 75th Infantry Regiment on July 26th, 1984 but was redesigned on February 14th, 1986 for the 75th Ranger Regiment. Specific scrolls for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Ranger Battalions were then approved on July 26th, 1984 with the 4th Special Troops/Training Battalion approved on April 7th, 2006. The Ranger Scroll denotes the individual has indeed been assigned to a Ranger Battalion and is identified as a “Ranger”.
On the Reverse, the 3rd Battalion challenge coin denotes the unit and presenting individuals. Centered on the Reverse against a field of burnished brass appears the 75th Ranger Crest protected in epoxy, above which is written in raised lettering “Ranger Excellence”. According to The Institute of Heraldry the symbolism behind the Ranger Crest has,
The colors blue, white, red and green represent four of the original six combat teams of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), commonly referred to as Merrill’s Marauders, which were identified by color. The unit’s close cooperation with the Chinese forces in the China-Burma-India Theater is represented by the sun symbol from the Chinese flag. The white star represents the Star of Burma, the country in which the Marauders campaigned during World War II. The lightning bolt is symbolic of the strike characteristics of the Marauders’ behind-the-line activities. (Institute of Heraldry)
To the left in the honorific position is the silver rank of Colonel, opposite to which is the rank of Command Sergeant Major signifying the two senior leaders of the 3rd Battalion and those who can present this challenge coin. These features are bordered by a black edging that outlines the entire Reverse.
Circa 2012 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regimental OEF Deployment Challenge Coin
Presented between 2011 and 2012, the OEF deployment challenge coin of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment marks the 17th deployment of the unit in the Global War on Terror and illustrates the very risks these men face, while honoring its history and those whom have participated with the unit. A two-inch circular coin, then Battalion Commander LTC Marcus S. Evans (who assumed command of the 3/75th between July 20th, 2011 and July 12th, 2013) and CSM Eddie Noland (whom served as the unit’s senior enlisted advisor to the Commander between September 14th, 2010 and March 28th, 2013) presented the unit’s deployment challenge coin circa 2011 by while serving overseas in OEF. (The Lincoln Journal)(USASOC News Service) In a ceremony on July 12th, 2012 to honor four men during their tour LTC Evans said,
But as you hear the narratives and read what these Rangers did you cannot help but feel a sense of pride and comfort that these warriors will deploy again and selflessly display the same tenacity and courage under fire that they have done on so many occasions.” LTC Evans would conclude by reiterating, “The men standing before you today and seated in this auditorium represent the best of America, They represent a commitment to excellence and an audacious desire to be the best and win on the field of battle. (Bailey)
The Obverse of the 2011 OEF deployment coin features the Ranger Crest centered against a field of burnished antique silver. The crest itself has offset panels of dark green and blue, upon which both the sun and a star are represented to reflect the lineage of the 75th Rangers to the original group known as Merrill’s Marauders. Centered on the crest is a red lighting bolt by which to represent the speed Rangers can strike their intended target. Behind the crest, three horizontal red bands bisect the Obverse to represent the WWII numerical value of the 3rd Battalion. At the top of the Obverse are the Ranger Tab and 3rd Ranger Battalion Scroll in raised outline; while along the bottom in raised lettering is written “Sua Sponte”, Latin for “Of Ones Own Will” and the 3rd Battalion’s motto.
The Reverse is stylized to reflect the more specific mentality of the 3rd Battalion’s Rangers and gives character to their 2012 deployment challenge coin. Centered on the Reverse is a white Punisher skull often taken for both its lethal representation and sense of justice, and is also a well known moniker common with Rangers and Special Operations. The skull is wearing a shredded black Corinthian helm to demonstrate its ferocity in battle and unflinching resolve in a fight. Behind the skull is a crossed spear and Spartan short sword in raised burnished silver, which were the favored weapons of Spartan warriors and their principle tools of war. To the left again is the raised outline rank of a Colonel, while opposite is the yellowed rank of the Sergeant Major. Both features denote the level of Command that is presenting this unique coin. Below the Punisher Skull is a red diamond with a stylized “3” to denote the 3rd Battalion, a symbol of which that hails back to the battalion’s previous WWII-design of a horizontal diamond. Surmounting the outer edge is a white band on which are written the previous theaters of conflict that the 3rd Ranger Battalion has seen service, “India, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Licata, Maiora, Anzio, Central China, and Burma”.
Bailey, Tracy A. “3/75 Rangers receive awards for valorous combat actions.” Tip of the Spear (2012).
The Institute of Heraldry. “75th Ranger Coat of Arms.” 08 March 2014 <http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Catalog/Heraldry.aspx?HeraldryId=10408&CategoryId=5871&grp=2&menu=Uniformed%20Services&ps=24&p=0&hilite=Ranger%20crest>.
The Lincoln Journal. “LTC Evans takes command of 3rd Battalion, 75th RR.” 4 August 2011. The Lincoln Journal. 25 January 2014 <http://www.lincolnjournalonline.com/news/2011-08-04/People/LTC_Evans_takes_command_of_3rd_Battalion_75th_RR.html>.
US Army. “3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.” US Army Offical Homepage. 10 February 2014 <http://www.goarmy.com/ranger/heritage/third-ranger-battalion.html>.
USASOC News Service. “3rd Ranger Battalion conducts changes of responsibility.” 21 September 2010. Shadow Spear. 25 January 2014 <http://www.shadowspear.com/vb/threads/3rd-ranger-battalion-conducts-changes-of-responsibility.7173/>.
Contributions provided by LTC Donn H. Hill, Former 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Commander 2010-2011 US Army. Coordination provided with Tracy A. Bailey, Deputy, Public Affairs Officer, 75th Ranger Regiment.