Winter 2011 Patrolling Papa Company Rangers - Remembering Bill Oleskevich
by Terry Roderick
Bill came to Papa Company in December of 1969, just before we lost Dowd’s Dirty Half Dozen right before Christmas in 1969. It was a tough time to come into the company and we were reeling a bit from the losses we suffered at that time. Bill was a welcome addition to our ranks with his can do attitude and eagerness to please and to do the dangerous job we were tasked with. He was a young, highly motivated PFC who was ready to join the fight. He was on the short side in stature, but he stood out with his muscular frame and he was as physically fit as any member of our unit from the start. If you knew him, you knew that it was very important to him that he keep his body strong and fit and he continued that during his entire life. He eventually went to SSG Terry Bishop’s team, Killer 1-1, for quite a while and learned the trade and became a Ranger who didn’t need a lot of guidance, but began to share his knowledge and experience with those younger Rangers who followed him into the company. He moved into more responsible positions on his teams and showed leadership qualities that came with experience. That’s how we did it in Papa Company. It was a completely different kind of war we were fighting from the training we were receiving stateside before deploying to Vietnam. Bill served honorably and with valor in our company and was recognized as a true warrior in every sense of the word. He had the respect of all of us and was well liked in the company during my time there.
I left in November 1970 and Bill was still there finishing his tour. He extended for another 6 months after I left and stayed in the company for most of the time until it was de-activated in July 1971. Folks, that’s a long time in such an active unit. He later moved into the Commo/Operations section of the company and served as a training NCO for new guys coming into the company before he left to come back to CONUS and begin the rest of his life. He and Dan Wagoner who both spent a long time in the company became closer friends and their friendship continued up until Bill’s surprise passing. I probably had spoken on the phone with Bill less than a week before he died and he sounded real good to me at the time. I lost track of him after I left Papa Company but we reunited sometime after at a Ranger Rendezvous. He was initially stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. with the 82nd Airborne Division after Vietnam and he and Gregg “Spud” Gain linked up at Bragg and roomed together for a while. We had quite a few former P/75th Rangers who ended up at Fort Bragg after their tours in Vietnam and before they left the Army or re-enlisted and continued their careers. Gregg and Bill have remained close friends for all these years and never got too far from each other. Larry McNew has remained close to Bill and his family over the years and they had a special bond like so many of us do with one another at times. We’d like to recognize and thank Larry for going out to Colorado to assist the Oleskevich family with anything he could at this terrible time in their lives.
Bill left a lovely family behind starting with his life partner and wife, Joyce Oleskevich. Joyce was well received by the Papa Company Gals the times she’s been able to join us and it’s always a pleasure to have her with us too. They had two children, Michael, 35, and Sonia,32. Both children had granddaughters and from a short note I just got from Joyce, they were one of the major reasons he looked forward to getting up every day……
Terry, Right now I'm still dealing with a lot of personal and financial paperwork so I'm not able to contribute a lot. Bill & I were married 39 years on Oct. 7, five days after he passed away. We have a daughter Sonia, her daughter Juliana; son Michael and his daughter Amber. Bill was honest, hard working, stubborn, opinionated, had morals and values. He loved his family and showed us a part of him that most people didn't get to see. He was a loving son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. His granddaughters were the apple of his eye. He had tea parties and played the prince & the princess with his 3yr. old granddaughter.
Yep, that’s the Bill I knew. He was all those things and way more. Obviously he will be missed by more than just his family and hopefully he will be remembered fondly by all those he touched. The memories we leave behind are our personal legacy and hopefully we can leave a smile on someone’s face when they take the time to remember us. Rest in Peace, Ranger Brother…………
On a more positive note, we’d like to pass along our blessing and best wishes for Mary Rossi and Bob Murphy, a 5th Corps LRP, who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Yes, OZ!! At the barbeque at the hangar at Lawson Field in 2009 during the Ranger Rendezvous, I was standing and playing around with Joyce Boatman and Mary Rossi when Bob Murphy and a friend walked up and asked to take a picture of us. I introduced them to Joyce and Mary and shortly headed out to do whatever it is I do in a social setting. Mary lost her husband, Mike, to cancer over 8 years ago and has been living in Ohio and carrying on with her life, which included her Papa Company Ranger family. She could have easily gone on her own way and left all this behind, but she didn’t. Not only her, but several other widows who are beginning to fill our ranks slowly, unfortunately. Anyway, Bob, being the sneaky LRP that he is, somehow began a long distance relationship with Mary from Australia via e-mail and they met up again at the 2011 Ranger Rendezvous.
When I first saw them together, I knew something was up. They both had the glow of high school sweethearts and it seemed they were inseparable during this year’s Rendezvous. I’m happy to announce that Mary has since moved to Oz to be with Bob and that they plan to tie the knot and make an honest woman out of Mary again shortly. Plans were for a Veteran’s Day wedding but legal snafus have moved it to December 1st. We’d all like to send them our best wishes and to congratulate them both. It’s such a cool story that I want to just go on and on about it, but I’ll spare you all. Joyce and I were invited to go to Oz to be the Best Man and Maid of Honor, but it looks like we won’t make it. We were both honored that these “kids” would think so much of us to even ask. “Blue skies and fair winds to you both” as you embark on some new adventures in your lives. The Papa Company Rangers are pleased to absorb Bob into our family and expect him to be a valuable addition. That being whether he likes it or not !! Ha! Ha!
Dave Barfield and Bobby Hampton are working hard putting our next company reunion together for next summer in Nashville, Tennessee. I went to a F/51st LRP reunion they put on a few years back and let me tell you, these guys know how to get it done !! We hope for a large turnout this summer as we are all getting older and the excuses for not traveling are getting harder to dispute. We invite any of you other LRP’s and Rangers to join us as soon as we get the details set and begin to solidify our plans. We expect the dates to be in late July as usual.
Rangers Lead the Way !! Terry B. Roderick, Unit Director.
Dan Wagoner Bill Oleskevich and Lucien Pope
Killer 11 Spencer Biegert Bishop Brennan Cornelius Oleskevich 1970
Oleskevich 2nd from right standing Company P 2002
Gain Oleskevich and McNew 1992 RR
Bob Murphy and Mary Rossi 2011
Fall 2011 Patrolling Papa Company Rangers
by Terry Roderick
Rick Chitwood showed up with his wife, Linda, and son, Chazz, and his goddaughter, Angelina Rosenfeld for their first time. They came from the Miami, Florida area where Rick works and lives now. When I first met Rick in Columbus, I thought his wife, Linda, was his daughter. Not sure how all you “cradle robbers” get away with that (Tilson), but you guys sure know how to pick’em!! I must have missed that class or Section of Instruction !! They spent several days going all over Fort Benning and seeing all the sights and displays they had set up for the guests. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves and Rick insured me that he would return in the future. Rick Polski showed up with his wife, Nancy, and their son, Kevin, from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. Rick has changed very little and continues the same sense of humor and humility he always showed. He looked great and has not changed much from the old days. He did mention that he would sure like for Roger Cassidy to make the Nashville Reunion in 2012 so they can reunite.
Rick, Jose Dominguez, Jay Lutz, Dave McNulty, and Jerry Cornelius were all on the same mission when Jay lost his fingers, sight in one eye, and hearing on one side in June 1970, and “Mac” seems to have the handle on it. He’s going to write up an account of that day for me in the future and I’ll share it. If you’ve read anything Bill Davis or I’ve written in the past, you know that this mission was one where we never understood exactly what happened to set the demolitions off where we had two other personnel from outside our company killed. That would be the Engineer, James Ronald Stutes, and the Chemical Specialist, Melvin Ernest Davis. Not sure if he has the exact answer to that one, but he remembers the day very well and may be able to fill in some blanks for others. Mac’s mind is clear and he has an amazing grasp of events during his time in P/75th. I look forward to that. Mac and his lovely wife, Fran, came from Vermont to join us and as I write this, I’m hoping they are safe and sound from the damage Hurricane Irene laid on them this past weekend.
Grace Mayer came with two of her grandchildren. Grant and Tasah. I had to call and make sure I got the right spelling for Tasah’s last name after I saw it on the sign in sheet. Not sure how Mayer turned into Skogebo, but I like it !! Neither is a misspelling !! I must say I hope your Grandkids don’t like Jell-O as much as those two, but we sure enjoyed having them with us this year. We all hope they will come back in the future.
Marion was having some health issues while we were there but I’m happy to report she’s home now and sounded very good this morning when I talked to her. We missed not having her wit and smiling face with us the entire time. She is simply The BEST !!
I was approached via the 75th Ranger Regiment Assn. by Ruth Stonesifer, a Gold Star Mother, who is making a Memorial Quilt honoring Rangers who have died in combat. She lost her son, Kristofor, in October 2001, during the early period after 9/11, and wanted to honor him and others with this beautiful quilt. The VN LRP/Ranger companies and the families of the KIA’s were invited to participate and once again, I tasked Jay Lutz with handling this for us, and as usual, he did it with his usual class and humility. He makes us all look good so much and many of you never even know it. I am so indebted to him for his support and assistance over the years that you’ll never know how he has kept me in this game for so long. I love him for it, but sometimes it’s like Listerine !! Ha! Ha! Anyway, to make a long story short, you can see from the photo that P/75th is very prominent on this quilt and it’s thanks to Jay and the Deubner family, who did a panel for David Barber themselves and provided it. Jay made sure to honor the aircrewmen and the support personnel we lost too. Who else would have thought of that?? Although I like seeing us so prominently displayed, I was disappointed that more of the VN companies did not take the opportunity and time to participate. I did see a panel done by G/75th to honor some of their people there too, but mostly, it was a more current group of “Batt Boy” Rangers being honored on it, except for the 10 panels or so that are dedicated to P/75th. I hope you all know that it’s efforts like those of Jay, Duke, Teddy Bear, and a few others that let all the other units know we are proud of our service and we take every opportunity to honor our fallen brothers and will continue to do so in the future………… at least as long as I’m around !!
We stayed busy the whole week and some were unable to stay with us the entire week. Terry Bishop got to spend a few days with us as did Bobby Hampton, who came from Nashville. Bobby and Dave Barfield will be hosting us next Summer in Nashville and the preliminary dates seem to be the last week in July for our P/75th Reunion. More on that as we get things set up. I hope to have more soon so you can start making your plans. Several of us attended the F/51st Reunion there a few years ago and Nashville is a great place to gather and enjoy time together. Plenty to do there and to see.
The 75th Ranger Regiment changed command from Col. Michael Kurilla to Col. Odom, who was previously the 2nd Bn. CO. The ceremony at the new Infantry Museum Parade Grounds was excellent as usual, with about 45% of the Regiment present. The rest are deployed or training. It never stops for those guys. Our Ranger Buddy, RSM Rick Merritt, will continue in his leadership role until sometime mid next year when he’ll finally have to leave the Regiment after about 26 years of service in the 75th Ranger Regiment. Hopefully, he’ll get a good slot for his next assignment and there are plenty of high profile slots that he could fill easily with the experience he has gleamed from his current assignment. We will miss him and the support he has given us for so many years. I first met him in 1992 and we’ve stayed in close touch for nearly 20 years now. Time sure does fly !!
I’m getting some positive feedback from the VA claims and follow ups for many of you. Some are not getting the decisions they want right away, but I urge you to continue to beat on the door and if you feel the need, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll try and guide you to the right place or procedure to get where you need to go. I will gladly assist with documentation and supporting letters too if needed. The time factor for most is the hardest part because most of you are easily qualified for medical assistance and compensation, whether you think you deserve it or not. You were ALL exposed to Agent Orange and there are many side effects and diseases that have come from that affecting our brothers from all over the country. Others are fighting for benefits that they feel are justly due and I can only say that perseverance is what I’ve found to be a key tool in dealing with the VA. There are no surefire guidelines and many times the decision is based on one person’s take on a situation and if you don’t like it, you can always request a “re-evaluation” or an “upgrade” to a current rating BEFORE you decide to “APPEAL” a decision. An APPEAL can get you into a system where you may have to wait years for a decision. A request for an upgrade or re-evaluation is something they have to deal with now or in a shorter window. I recently got a decision on a hearing loss/tinnitus claim I made in addition to the Ischemic Heart Disease claim due to Agent Orange exposure of 10% earlier this year. That is the maximum for hearing loss/tinnitus and came from a hearing exam recently. It may not change your compensation, but it is good to get this all down and documented and it takes very little of your time. I URGE all of you to look into this stuff for your health issues. Some may not need the assistance, but I suspect many of you could use the medical coverage provided by the VA. It may not be the best in some people’s eyes, but I think you may be surprised at the level of care provided today versus years ago when we all heard so many horror stories about care from the Veterans Administration.
I’ve probably left out some things I wanted to say here, but I think I got most of it. I’d be remiss if I did not mention our latest Medal of Honor Recipient, Ranger SFC Leroy Petry. Sgt. Petry is currently assigned to the 2nd Ranger Bn. at Ft. Lewis, Washington. Several of us met Sgt. Petry two years ago when he visited the hotel where we had our Reunion HQS. But you’d have never known he was being put in for the Medal of Honor. He was as classy and humble back then as he was this year as he tried to honor commitments and photo ops with nearly everyone who attended this year’s Ranger Rendezvous. He had this “high-speed” prosthesis for his hand at that time and we were all amazed. Jay missed him that time, but Sgt. Petry spent time with Jay and the rest of our P/75th family at the No Host Barbeque this year and Jay schooled Sgt. Petry on all the “hand jokes” and our folks all got “photo ops” with Leroy. I was amazed at how he handled all the attention and kept a smile on his face and was so accommodating every time I saw him. I’m sure it got a bit old for him, but I just didn’t notice honestly. He came over to the hotel at least two nights that I know of and as you might expect, he was the center of attention and he took time out for everyone who wanted to have a picture taken with him. He is just an OUTSTANDING RANGER in every way and he is a wonderful Ambassador to represent the 75th Ranger Regiment. I was asking RSM Merritt about why no other Rangers have received the MOH for their actions over the years? He told me that no one had ever put another Ranger in for it before, but that SFC Petry’s men felt so strongly about his actions that day that they insisted on nominating him for this highest of awards. He was actually shot in both legs immediately before losing his hand in the action. Just an amazing Ranger and an amazing story of heroism. With that, I think I’ll close now and get this into the new Editor of Patrolling, Kevin Ingraham, the 2nd Bn. Unit Director. Blue skies and fair winds to you all !! Out Here !! RLTW !! Rock
Spring 2011 Patrolling Papa Company Rangersby Terry Roderick
Just got home from the 2011 Best Ranger Competition April 15-17. It’s amazing what these active duty Rangers can do in 60 hours. RSM Rick Merritt hosted Ted Tilson, Dan Miller, and myself over the weekend. Dan Miller is a long time friend of mine who recently retired from the Space Program at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. He accompanied me to our 1996 75th Ranger Regiment Association Reunion in Tacoma, Washington 15 years ago and plans to join us again in Columbus in July of 2011. I might add that the RSM’s wife, Elizabeth did all the heavy lifting and she was assisted by his daughter, Bonnie, and son, Lindsay, who turned 8 years old on April 19th. Dan also broke out an old “tiger stripe camo” shirt I had from our days in Quang Tri in 1970 while we were up at Best Ranger. I gave it to him in 1971 after I returned home and he has kept it all these years. Surprisingly enough, it still fit me and I wore it the last day of the BRC and definitely got some comments from the Vietnam veterans in attendance. Still had the original scroll we wore in 1969-70. Got to visit with General Greb, aka MSG Gilbert Berg (ret.), while there, and also met Miss Kathy Brown, formerly the Secretary at the RTB, and my friend from the WWII Rangers, Lynn Towne.
Got this note from Ed Perkowski’s (2nd Batt Boy)… wife, Dee. We adopted Ed and Dee and their family in 2007 at the Ranger Rendezvous. We needed some new blood and they’re good folks, like us !! They had a friend in the Best Ranger Competition, Ed's assistant gunner is competing SGM Walter Zajkowski, "Ziggy", Team #8...Ed was "Piggy" in the service and they called themselves "The Polish Ski Team"...Walt won this in 2007, the year Ed & I headed down to Fort Benning to try & see Ziggy at the Ranger Rendezvous..unfortunately, he was deployed at the time..but we made some other great connections (a.k.a Terry "Rock" Roderick) and Col. James Stamper gave us his tickets for the Ranger Hall of Fame induction dinner. It was an awesome experience...wish we were there now...woulda been great, the kids are on spring break too...anyway, check it out, neat stuff! The Sgt. Major won again this year for the record !! Congratulations !!
Next up is the annual Critter Cookout and Open House at the Mountain Ranger Camp on the weekend of May 7th. I plan to attend along with Jay Lutz possibly and will meet Ted Tilson, Roger Honeyager, and Don “Johnny Quest” Hughes, and maybe Tom Perry up there this year. Feel free to join us. The hotel up there is FREE. Bring your own sleeping bag though !! I had a great time last year and am looking forward to doing it again this year and for years to come.
On a more serious note, I recently got a decision and some retroactive pay from the VA for my ischemic heart disease (narrowing of the arteries) due to possible Agent Orange exposure per the recent Nehmer vs the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in October 2010. It took almost 3 months from the day of my C&P Exam in early January 2011 until I received their decision. My file was sent to Seattle, Washington, way out from my home Regional Office in St. Petersburg, Florida. I urge you all to take a look at this and make decisions accordingly. As you all know, I am available to assist anyone who needs the help. Also, John Chester, Ted Tilson, Joe Little, and myself sat down at Ranger Joe’s in Columbus this weekend and discussed “survivor’s benefits” for our families if we leave before they do. In many cases, the information being bandied about is hearsay and we feel a need to get something out in the next few issues of Patrolling that address these subjects and get our members more informed on issues that affect them directly and financially. We are beginning to lose members faster than we like and many are unprepared and it hurts their families unintentionally. We’d like to give you all the tools and information we can to assist you. Keep your eyes out for that as there is some important stuff coming down the pike. It’s very important that you take advantage of all the benefits and programs available to you in my opinion. You’ve earned them.
For those wondering about all the missing words from my last article…. John will run it again next issue to give the Davis family something as a keepsake without all the errors in the article. A gracious gesture indeed. Thank You John. In closing, I hope you all will make an effort to come to Columbus in July. There are BIG DOINGS going on at Fort Benning and construction of all kinds in all areas of the post, as they marry Infantry and Armor at the new Maneuver Center of Excellence, formerly known as Building #4 or The Infantry Center. RSM Merritt told me they plan a new show for the spectators at Fryar Field for the Mass Drop on Monday, July 25th, as the Regiment that is available comes together for their Regimental Change of Command as Col. Michael Kurilla leaves after two years. There will be a mock Afghan village that the Rangers will take down for the spectators and I’m sure it will be a memorable show for all who attend. It’s an Early Bird Special this year. There will be an “All Hands Meeting” at the Utchee Creek Campground afterwards as a social event and a great opportunity to meet these young Rangers who are serving our country as we did years ago. They appreciate our support and love it when we are in their midst. Keep that in mind when you visit and take the opportunities to get to know them. I can tell you from experience, you will be glad you did. They are outstanding Americans and motivated warriors. RSM Merritt assures me that our Rangers are winning the war over there and their spirits are high. Most of the active duty Regimental activities are over earlier in the week and the 75th Ranger Regiment Association stuff really begins about Wednesday/Thursday. I enjoy it all and try to get up there early, like Larry Smith does. Hope to see you all there. Stay safe and healthy !! Blue skies and fair winds to you all !!! RANGERS LEAD THE WAY !!
Winter 2010 Patrolling Papa Company Rangers
by Terry Roderick
I’d like to put a personal “Thank You” out to Marshall Larsen, of E/50th LRP, who I introduced to Bill years ago at a reunion when I learned they lived near each other in the Oakland, California area. Marshall has been a close and reliable friend to Bill for several years now and he kept Bill’s best interests at heart while their friendship grew. There were many times when Marshall was the only one around that Bill could talk to and Bill had told me of his feelings towards Marshall and the support Marshall has provided him over the years.
Forces qualified and arrived in the company in December 1969, along with Troll Lloyd and Jerry Cornelius if my memory serves me correctly. Bill spent several months in the field and was involved in some pretty serious contacts while with us. I look at the list he kept of his missions and it brings back some memories for me on the dates he has listed. We plan to hold a small memorial service for him this coming Summer during the Ranger Rendezvous and will announce plans closer to the event. Rest In Peace, Bill !!
In October, Ted Tilson and I attended the RBA of WWII Reunion in Columbus, Georgia. There were about 25-30 of the WWII Rangers there and they are still a lively and fun group to be with. We were guests of sorts of Mrs. Lynn Towne, who is a daughter of a WWII Darby Ranger. They have banquets nearly every night and they seem to stay close to the hotel so that was a nice touch. For the Friday night banquet, Ted and I were graciously allowed to escort Mrs. Elizabeth Merritt and Mrs. Katie Messerschmitt to the evening festivities and they were the “Belles of the Ball.” Both of their husbands were deployed and expected home for Christmas this year for a change. Katie’s husband, Major Mark, is a regular competitor in the Best Ranger competition, and has won it in the past. He works at Regiment with Elizabeth’s husband, Rick, the Regimental Command Sergeant Major. We were honored to be seen with these beautiful, young girls !!
In November, I got a note and a call from Gary Hall, who was our Company Commander for much of 1969. He called to tell me that he and his family were coming over from Orlando to run in the Space Coast Marathon and ½ Marathon on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I can’t even drive 26 miles without a pit stop anymore, so the idea of running it seems riduckulous to me now. Well, Gary ran it with his daughter and her husband, and the other daughter ran the ½ Marathon. He finished and I couldn’t be prouder of him. Gary and Patsy and I had gotten together for a nice breakfast prior to the event and we had a real good visit. I live right on the course so I got to see Gary come by that morning as he had to go up and then back by my house. He had his Papa Company Ranger shirt on and wore it proudly. I felt good seeing it go by and I’m told he will be running the ½ Marathon next year……….. if you know what I mean !!
In December, I received an invitation from James DeSalvo, to attend the services for Ranger David Dolby at Arlington National Cemetery. David “Mad Dog” Dolby received the Medal of Honor in 1967 while serving with the 1st Cav. He served in both C/75th and N/75th also. He served 5 tours in Vietnam with different units and was well known within our Association. He had passed away in August 6, at Spirit Lake, Idaho, where he had been visiting friends. His services were scheduled for Monday, December 13th. I got in touch with Ted Tilson again and we decided to make a road trip and go to Washington, D.C. I was a bit scared at first because I don’t usually leave the warm confines of Florida after about September 15th or so, when the ice roads begin to form north of Daytona Beach. I drove up to Gainesville, Georgia and spent the night with Ted and his lovely family, and Friday, we headed to Washington. We got into town about 6:00 P.M. and thankfully we were going in and not out of town.
On a Friday afternoon we passed a traffic jam coming south on I-95 that had to go on for 50 miles or so. We got to the hotel and there were many people in the lobby and I wondered if they were all there for the Dolby services ? After asking a couple of people, I learned that they were from all over the country and they were in town for the “wreath laying at Arlington” the next day and that they come every
The entire Iraq/Afghanistan section got covered. I was told that there are over 300,000 gravesites there and they just don’t have enough wreaths to cover them all, so they pick certain sections to concentrate on each year. From what Ted and I could tell, if you got in line, you could get a wreath and takeit anywhere in the cemetery and place it if you wanted. Ted and I were standing near Kevin’s gravesite when we noticed a lady and her man friend standing at Kevin’s gravesite and touching his gravestone. We walked up and ask if they had known Kevin?
The girl replied she did not, but had been asked by her ex husband to stop by and pay respects for him. Her ex was the first medic on site when Kevin was shot and right there with him and the other casualty they had that day. We spent the rest of the day “humping” the grounds and seeing all the different things there are to see there. We finished up a long day with a taxi ride to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial and the others in the area. Then back to the hotel.
It rained Sunday and Monday morning it was cool. Actually in the 20’s with 20 mph winds. Joyce Boatman and her daughter, Carol Jimenez, were there in attendance also, and that was a treat as we got to spend some time with them and Col. John Lawton, of N/75th. There were several Rangers and LRP’s from N/75th and C/75th and some others I’ve never met before. Jim DeSalvo should be given a big attaboy for the way he put the services together for Dave and the organizing and planning he put in. The military people who assisted were great too. Jim has been a steadfast friend to Dave for many years and if you know Dave, you know that like the rest of us, he could be a handful at times !! Ha! Ha! It was a cold, windy day when Dave was put to rest. There was a real nice service in the Chapel where John Lawton provided the eulogy and then the vehicle processional to the gravesite, led by the caisson with the flag draped casket and team of horses. It was a full military honors service as you would expect for a Medal of Honor recipient. It was well done and the day seemed appropriate as it was gray, cold, and windy.
Grace Mayer and I both communicated with a new Ranger Buddy we have. His name is James “Ike” Eikner and he lives in Texas. He had his 97th birthday in December of this year and is still living and loving life. He’s a WWII Ranger and we’re just getting to know him. We’re looking forward to spending some time getting to know him better. Thanks to Lynn Towne who tells me about these wonderful Rangers who enjoy a kind word or gesture when you can do it for them. They are a classy bunch of men for sure.
July will be here before you know it, so begin to think about coming to Columbus this Summer and enjoy the brotherhood and friendships we have developed. Don’t forget Nashville in 2012 and Bobby Hampton assures me he is working on putting on the best reunion we’ve ever had there.
I hope you all made it through the holiday season safely and that you had a nice time. I had forgotten how much fun a nearly 2 year old could be.
Be sure and check with your VA provider if you feel you fall under the Agent Orange related illnesses recently added to the list by the VA. Ischemic heart disease, both forms of Leukemia, and Parkinson’s disease are part of the Court Decision, Nehmer vs the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. There is some serious retroactive funding there and this is separate from a regular claim as many were denied claims for heart disease in the past and they have changed their stance on that now and are awarding retroactive benefits. It’s something worth investigating if you fall into this group that is affected. I’ll be glad to share what I know if you want to contact me. That last issue of Patrolling had an article on it on page 13-14.
John Chester told me the 75th RR Assn. plans to expound on this issue in the next few issues of Patrolling as it is a very important decision. BEST WISHES TO YOU ALL FOR A GREAT 2011 !!
Fall 2010 Patrolling Papa Company Rangers
by Terry Roderick
The Papa Company Rangers had just finished up a wonderful Reunion in Cherokee, N.C. when we were hit with the tragic news of the death of one of our member’s son in Afghanistan a mere week later. This followed up the terrible news we had gotten a few days earlier about the loss of Joyce Boatman’s friend, Doug Coleman, after what was to be a routine surgery for a gall bladder issue. That was why Joyce missed our reunion and no one could have predicted complications from what was supposed to be a routine procedure. Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to all of them at this difficult time.
LCpl. Kevin Michael Cornelius, was the youngest son of Jerry and Marlene Cornelius from Jerry’s earlier marriage. Their eldest son, Eric, is a Lt. in the U.S. Army, and currently going through helicopter pilot training at Fort Rucker, AL and had just recently been told he was selected to go through the Kiowa Warrior training as his aircraft of choice. Kevin was serving in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan and was coming home very soon. In fact, Jerry and Marlene had just spoken to him on the day he was killed. It was Jerry’s birthday, August 7th, Marlene told me. As of this writing, Kevin is being returned home and will be interred at Arlington at some later date. Right now, his hometown and the local friends and family are having services for him and there will be some upcoming ways they will honor his sacrifice in the future. It’s just a terrible loss for us all as many of knew Kevin since he was a young kid and watched him grow over the years into a young man. Jerry and Marlene would like to thank those of you have been so supportive and offered condolences at this time. I will have more on this subject in the future.
We were honored and pleased to have two of our KIA families with us this year in Cherokee. Chris Sides, wife of our KIA Harold Sides, who we lost in September 1970, and her friend from Dallas, Wanda Burton attended. This was the 2nd time we have had Chris with us and she is such a wonderful addition to our family. Knowing how hard it is for her, we sure do appreciate her honoring us with her presence. Johnny Lawrence, and Johnny’s “lady friend”, Karen Padgett, his daughter, Dana Law, and his sisters, Kelly and Jaci Lawrence attended also, and they are the children of our Johnny Lawrence, KIA in 1971. Guests, or I should say other members of our Papa Company family, Redskin 16, Steve Smith and his lovely wife, Pat, who came to get him away from us right before we left, Jim and Sandy Testerman of K/75th and the 4th ID LRP’s (with his beautiful restored Henry J), and RHOF member, N/75th Ranger and legend, Patrick Tadina, joined us before embarking on another mission that I cannot tell you about or he may have to kill me !! Guy Anhorn, who recently did a documentary film on P/75th called “Painted Warriors, Rangers on the DMZ” was there, along with his brother Tom and Tom’s wife, Nettie. Steve Loggin’s friend, Berry Rash, accompanied Steve, and I think he enjoyed his time with us too. In addition, my sister, Nancy, and my niece, Stacy, both attended along with my oldest daughter, Cindy. It was a pleasure to have them all with us this year.
Papa Company attendees this year included Ted and Cheri Tilson, and their daughter Jessica and son, Mark Tilson. Ted put it all together for us again this year and we are indebted to him for a great job. Cherokee, or any of the western N.C. area, is a great place to plan a company reunion. Other attendees in no order were Duke and Marion DuShane, Roger Cassidy, Sam “Brother G” and Peggy Burnette, Steve and Barbara Nash, Jim “Stepchild” Gates, Gregg “Spud” Gain, Larry “The Reb” Smith, Jim “The Fam” Femiano, Garry Norton, Jerry and Marlene Cornelius, Jay and Marsha Lutz, Eddie and Terri Olgesby, Steve Loggins, Donnie Rose, Rick Foringer and Margie Reif, Eddie Hoppe and Barbara Dawson, Thomas and Gaynelle Wilson, Eddie and Kitten Johnston and their youngest son, Mason, and his wife and baby girl. I was there also. We had hoped that Mary Rossi, Grace Mayer, Clyde and Susan Tanner, Terry Bishop, Rick King, Fred and Trish Tompkins, and Carney and “Shotgun Mary” Walters would join us this year, but the word was they had a reunion in Sturgis, SD without us. Ha! Ha! We had a nice time riding inner tubes down the river that ran beside our motel one day, and white water rafting in 47 degree water the next day. There were many things of interest in the area and no one got bored. The Cherokee Indian tribe has a large casino there too that drew some interest from the luckier members of our group.
Our Memorial Service this year took a bit of a turn from the norm, or at least what I usually see at most gatherings. Rather than merely reading the names and dates of our KIA’s and lighting candles or something similar to honor each one this year, we took the extra time to have different members speak about each individual (23 in all) a bit and we all got an opportunity to get to know each of these men a little bit better using this technique. Since our companies were active for different periods of time, many times we find that we didn’t know the individual whose name we are hearing being read, and I felt this would be a good opportunity to add something more to the names for everyone and it worked out even better than I had hoped. I got more positive feedback from those in attendance after the meal and ceremony than I have ever gotten in the past. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room on more than one occasion and people got up and spoke that you would never in your wildest dreams expect to get in front of a microphone in front of a lot of people. It was very healing and therapeutic for many of us. We stayed busy the entire weekend and as usual, we were all sad to part and go our different ways until 2012, when we hope to combine with O/75th RGR and F/51st LRP for a major BLOWOUT in NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE. This might be news to them, but we hope to rectify that in the next couple of years.
I’d like to give a BIG SHOUTOUT to first timer’s …….Donnie Rose, Eddie Olgesby, and Roger Cassidy, who all joined us for their first time this year and we hope they will be coming back every year now. We all know how hard it is to take that first step sometimes, but most find it one they wish they had taken earlier in most cases. Roger was quite a popular guy in the company when I was there and it was great to see him with so many of the guys there that he served with and the new stories that he provided that we have not heard before. Ha! Ha!
In May, Jay Lutz and I did a “road trip” to north Georgia and met up and stayed with Teddy Bear Tilson in Gainesville, Georgia for a few days. While we were there, we attended the annual Critter Cookout that the Mountain Ranger Camp and their Association puts on every year. I had never been before and Ted had been trying to get me up there for years. We met up with Roger “Hawk” Honeyager (Wisconsin) and Don “Johnny Quest” Hughes (Iowa) from the late 1970 and 1971 Papa Company era. I had only seen their names pretty much over the years and was looking forward to meeting them both for the first time. I can tell you that I was not disappointed and for those of you who were there with me, “we coulda had some real fun with these two guys if we had them!!” We had a great time. Cookie was off leash and slept outside on a cot with me in an old Army tent for 3-4 days. Teddy Bear and I never showered for 4 days……… just like in Vietnam, and no one said a thing!! Jay was trying out some new camping and hiking gear he plans to use to walk the Appalachian Trail next year from Key West to Maine. Roger, Ted, and Don were honored with Planning Sheds being named after them for the next year and they do this for deserving RI’s that have served there over the years. I thought it was an honor until I saw Emmett Hiltibrand’s name on one of them…………….. JUST KIDDING, Emmett !! Emmett is actually held in very high regard there and it is a wonderful group of guys who attend and put this on every year. I would urge you to give it a shot one time. I’ll definitely be going back. I probably enjoyed it as much or more than most Ranger gatherings I go to for some odd reason. Maybe it’s the informality of it all or the rugged men who attend. They also hold a Fallen Ranger Ceremony each year to honor Rangers from all parts of the Ranger Community who have died for different reasons. Some were killed in action and some just passed away naturally. It was a wonderful ceremony and there were several family members of each person honored and many of them spoke of their lost loved one. Dan Pope spoke about Pete Neves, our former QM and Webmaster, and I had no idea of how well they knew each other. Several members of the E/75th Rangers attended and they had two of their own being honored this year. They were Emory Parrish and Joseph Castagna. It’s another example of Rangers making sure other Rangers are never forgotten and reminds us that their spirit lives on with us all.
On our way home, Jay asked me if I could find the names of the two “support personnel” we had with two of our teams on June 6, 1970, when a premature explosion killed both of these brave men and injured several of our P/75th Rangers while they were setting charges and crystallized CS into a large bunker complex in the DMZ to blow it up and make it uninhabitable. Jay was the one who was wounded most seriously that survived the explosion that day. I’m sure I could write an article about that day on its own, but to make a long story short right now, I decided to see if I could find their names. I was able to find two men from the 5th Mech who died on that day and it was pretty obvious that they were with our teams that day, even though the information was vague concerning their deaths. One man, SSG Melvin Ernest Davis (SFC posthumously) , came from the 86th Chemical Detachment, and the other, SP/4 James Ronald Stutes, came from A Co., 7th Engineering Bn. I had never heard of either unit in the 5th, but I’m sure they aren’t the only ones there I never heard of either. Coincidently, both men hailed from Louisiana. Melvin from Saline, and James from Lafayette.
I went to the Virtual Vietnam Memorial Wall on the Internet and found a message left in 2005 from Chuck Davis, the son of Melvin Davis, and I sent a message to the e-mail address he left there. Shortly after that, I got a message back from Chuck and found out he lives about 45 minutes from me here in Florida. I let Jay know and the three of us decided to have lunch together in Orlando shortly thereafter. Jay and I were pleasantly surprised to find a welcoming and wonderful looking young man who greeted us at the Longhorn restaurant we had chosen to meet at for lunch. Dr. Chuck, who has a PhD in Chemical Engineering, currently is a Professor at a local college, and has his son living in the area attending college majoring in engineering also. Chuck instantly made Jay and I comfortable and we found out that for all these years, all he knew about his Father’s death was that he died from an explosive device of some sort. He had assumed that it was probably a land mine and had never actually been told how his Father died in Vietnam. Jay, who there on the ground that day, and the closest person to his Father at the time of the explosion, related the events of the day that led up to his Father’s eventual demise. We let him know that his Father had volunteered that day to go out with two Ranger teams, and we did not have a good record of being a safe place to be, and that he died doing Ranger work and he definitely held up his end of the bargain with our teams. To this day we still do not know what detonated the charges that day and we related that to him too. After lunch, he invited us to his home nearby and we got an opportunity to see some of the documentation and other memorabilia that he had from that time in his life. He had a letter from his Father’s Commanding Officer that mentioned our CO, Luke Ferguson, as being a friend of his Father’s, and some personal letters his Father had written to his wife and young son at that time. It was very sobering and Chuck made Jay and I about as comfortable as we could be with him. We consider these two men as part of our Papa Company family and we let Chuck know that too. We’re hoping he will be able to join us one year in the near future at some Ranger events. Unfortunately, at this time, I have not been able to contact the Stutes family, but will continue to pursue that in the near future. Jay let me know that these events were very helpful to him personally and that makes it all worthwhile in so many ways.
In closing, I have to mention the Papa Company Fishing Tournament we had during our Reunion in Cherokee. It made my heart feel good to know that we could not even run a fishing tournament on the “up and up” and the results were tilted as I expected. After all the huffing and puffing about their “fishing prowess”, most of the supposed entrants slept in except for a hardy few. Teddy Bear, Brother G, and Jim Femiano all got up and got their socks wet the morning of the tournament. When I got there to officiate, about 0800 hrs., Brother G was fishing up the river a bit, Teddy Bear had a nice little dry rocky spot with two medium sized trout on his line, and Jim Femiano was up to his drawers in cold water with two “bait fish” (also called minnows in Florida or trout in NC) trying to get away so they could grow up to big trout. Brother G came ambling down the river with a large trout and his gear and looking for more fish. The winner was going to be the person with the most fish, not the largest or most poundage. Ted and Brother G were observing Jim fishing and Ted showed him the handmade knife he had provided for the eventual Winner of the tournament. At this point, Brother G, seeing the knife of his dreams, and I, and Ted, decided to concoct a scheme to get Brother G the knife he lusted for so much. We could have had Brother G’s fish swallow those small ones Teddy Bear had caught, but the idea was the number of fish, so Ted gave Brother G his two fish and now Brother G had 3 fish to two for Jim Femiano’s two minnows/trout. The time limit was reached and a few of us went over to see Jim to let him know he finished 2nd and Brother G won.
Ted generously decided to give Jim a knife also and we thought it was over……. UNTIL………….. I made an offhand comment to Jim that I was appalled that we (P/75th) couldn’t even run a legitimate, honest fishing tournament without some shenanigans being involved. Of course, this piqued his interest (as I intended) and he queried me as to what I was talking about ?? I told him the truth would come out eventually and left him with that thought. Brother G, also being ” a man of the cloth”, and having a congregation in Galax, Va., was approached by Jim, and Jim did the ultimate…….. he played the what I call the “Jesus card” on Brother G. Of course when he did that, Brother G had to come clean and admit the truth much to his chagrin. It was dirty dealing for Jim to play the “Jesus card”, but Brother G did what any other Christian preacher would do and bared his soul and admitted his participation in the ruse. He offered to swap knives or return it but Jim was gracious and by then he liked the knife he won better anyway. Plus, he won a $5.00 bet he had with Steve Nash who could not roll out of the tournament. And they lived happily ever after………….
Summer 2010 Patrolling Papa Company Rangers
by Terry Roderick
The Papa Company Rangers recently lost another member of our family due to illness. The Reverend Elmer E. Davis, passed on March 21st, 2010 in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Mr. Davis, born on May 4th, 1918 in Virginia, Illinois (not a typo), was the Father of our own, Bill Davis, who now lives in Tucson, Arizona and is one of our past Unit Directors. Bill served with us from about December 1969 until the Summer of 1970 before being wounded. Many of you know Bill, but for those who don’t, hopefully you’ll get to meet him this Summer in Cherokee as he is one of our “regulars” since he found us a while back. Mr. Davis served our country in the Army Air Corp in WWII as a crewmember and flew many combat flights. Jay Lutz, Jim Femiano, and I attended the services for Mr. Davis and it was very obvious that his congregation has lost their “father figure” too.
So many people had so many wonderful things to say about Mr. Davis that you just knew his loss will be felt for a long time as they recover. Mr. Davis was coming up on his 92nd birthday in May and he was still tending to his own congregation when they brought him out of retirement a few years ago. After the congregation finished honoring Mr. Davis, a small ceremony was held involving those of us from P/75th who attended and was finished off with Jay playing “Taps” on his bugle. Prior to Mr. Davis’ departure from this world, he graciously accepted the position of the Honorary Chaplain of the Papa Company Rangers. This small gesture brought a smile and appreciation from Bill’s Father, even though he knew he would have to serve us from a distance in a short time. We’re honored that he would take this responsibility and as you might expect, he has his work cut out for him from here on out. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know him better myself, but Jay and Bill both assure me that I truly missed something by not having the privilege of meeting him. That was truly confirmed by the people who showed up for his service. Rest In Peace, Chaplain Davis.
Our Reunion in Cherokee is coming up soon, July 28- August1, 2010 in Cherokee, N.C. We’ve been there a couple of times in the past and we enjoy it so much we wanted to go back. As many of you know, we lost Roy Boatman the last time we were there to a heart attack, and we’re hoping that Joyce and their daughter, Carol, who most of you know also, will be able to join us, despite the obvious obstacles they will have. I can assure you that we will remember Roy fondly and hoist many drinks to him for his friendship and loyalty to us over the years. We love the Boatman’s and they are an integral part of our Papa Company family. In addition, we’re hoping to have Harold Sides’ wife, Chris, join us again this year for the 2nd time. There is a chance that David Slone, the lone survivor from Harold’s team, Killer 18, may be able to attend this year too and that would be a blessing for us all to have them together for the first time. David is working at it and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully, this meeting will have a healing effect on both of them as they have carried these terrible memories with them for nearly 40 years now. We’re expecting a nice gathering and invite anyone who wants to joins us to do so.
It’s very well done and has interviews with some us that Guy met in Buffalo a couple of years ago at our reunion there. He traveled to Larry Smith’s home and David Slone’s home to interview them for the video and the fact that they are both “Lone Survivors” makes their words “loud and clear” to me. I learned some things myself about events that took place while I was there that never occurred or were known to me. It’s really a nicely done job and is something we can share with our friends and families.
Guy Anhorn, a friend of Garry Norton’s, from the Philadelphia, PA area, recently wrapped up several years of work putting together a documentary gathered from photos, video clips, and interviews with members of Papa Company. It has some generic Vietnam era footage and many shot of members of our company and is well done and a tribute to our unit. It’s titled, “Painted Warriors, Rangers On the DMZ”. It’s available on this Website here.
For me personally, the past couple of months have been very busy indeed. Married off my eldest daughter, Cindy, in April, and she and her new husband, Kevin, took a weeklong honeymoon to Maui, Hawaii. Go figure !! I spent the night in a hotel near Disneyworld and then headed to Brunswick, Maine to my Navy squadron in July 1976 on that fateful day (July 31st, 1976)!! I finished my classes at Brevard Community College the end of April too. Got an “A” in my Computer Applications” class and “Passed” my Introduction/Pre Algebra class I took also. I found it amazing how much easier it all seemed as I did homework and opened my books after the actual class was over. Though I’m 40 years too late, and my future is dim, I enjoyed the classes and learned something. I’d encourage any of you who have contemplated this, like I did for years, to give it a try. I was amazed at how unprepared many of these graduated young people are today for the real world. Maybe these technical devices will save them. Classes are mostly on the computer as far as the work and tracking your progress now. Being on time didn’t seem to be a concern either. Not how I’d do it.
It’s May 20th as I write this and Jay Lutz and I are heading up to the Mountain Ranger Camp in Dahlonega, Georgia next week to visit Teddy Bear Tilson and his family and enjoy the annual Critter Cookout they have up there every year May 28-29). Ted tells me a couple of the guys that Jay and I don’t know from the company will be there. I think it was Roger Honeyager and Don Hughes, but don’t quote me on that. Ted’s been trying to get me up there for years and Larry Smith might be making it down too. I’ve heard they draw a nice crowd and it’s 2-3 days of camping out and having fun.
There’s probably more news, but I can’t think of it offhand. Looking forward to seeing you all in Cherokee and try and find a reason to attend, rather than reasons for staying home. Even if you still don’t like us, the Smokey Mountain area is nice. Ranger Lead the Way !!! Terry B. Roderick, Unit Director
Spring 2010 Patrolling Papa Company Rangers
by Terry Roderick
Well it’s coming up to that reunion time for us again and this year we’re going back to the Smokey Mountains near Cherokee, N.C. Ted Tilson tried to get us some cabins on the water somewhere this time but it was not to be. We have reserved a 25 room block for the time being at a locally owned motel, next to the river, near Cherokee, N.C. The motel is called the Drama Inn and the phone number is: 828-497-3271. Point of contact is Laverne. The address is: 462 Tsali Blvd., US441 N., Cherokee, N.C. 28719. dramainn.com is their website if you want to know more. Let them know you are in the Papa Company Ranger group when you make your reservations. The dates are Wednesday, July 28th through Sunday, August 1st, 2010. If you are reading this, you are welcome to join us if you wish and we’d love to have you.
There are numerous activities in the area and the weather is usually great. I understand there will be a “Fishing Contest” to find out who is the greatest fisherman/fisherperson in our group and will be open to anyone who wants to lose their money to Jim Femiano. It’s simple, the largest unfrozen trout that is fresh wins it all!! Rooms are $89.00 for the limited riverside rooms and $79.00 for the others per night. Fishing permits are about $7.00 per day since you will be on Federal property, but you can fish from the balconies I’m told. The Oconaluftee River flows right behind the motel, which is on the reservation. There is a 48 hour cancellation policy too, but why would you cancel. You’ve all had all your kids by now!! Any questions, call Teddy Bear Tilson at: 678-936-5448.
Retired CSM George “Dave” Gates continues to recover from a stroke he suffered a while back. I have not done a very good job keeping up with his progress lately and feel badly about that. I knew he was working hard to get back and I have no good excuse for not calling. I’ll take care of that soon. Jay Lutz has another surgery coming up soon to repair the hip replacement he started. Duke is recovering nicely and many of you are dealing with different aches and pains that you have ignored for years. We’re getting older guys and I want you all to take the time out of your busy lives to make sure you make one of our reunions and get a chance to meet and see again those who fought alongside you in Vietnam, in our company. I feel the same bond and brotherhood with all those I’ve met from our company from those many years ago, and it is the same as I feel for those who came before me and after. It’s uncanny in many ways and I embrace it and it is one of my treasures in life. And that’s not to mention all the other wonderful and great men I’ve met and spent time with from all the other companies, eras, and the active duty Rangers from the 75th Ranger Regiment. When I think about it, I just thank my lucky stars that I was interested enough to take the ball and run with it when it was thrown to me in 1994 initially. If you all knew the heroes I’ve met that are still living amongst us, you would be amazed like I am when I think about it. Someone said all the heroes were dead, but I assure you that is not accurate without debate. As our older WWII Rangers begin to come to the end of their historic lives, more and more of the Vietnam era warriors stories will become living history for a while, and you are part of it. I hope we all live long enough to see it happen. If I’m wrong, so what?? Ha! Ha!
I’ve met a wonderful lady recently through Jim “Stepchild” Gates, who is now computer literate and a perfect example that any one of you is capable of using one if you just want to. Right, Jim? Her name is Lynn Towne, and she is married to a wonderful and lucky man named Ray Towne, and they live in San Francisco, California. Somewhere along the line, Stepchild got an e-mail from someone who told about a WWII Ranger, Lonnie Johnson, who was living in a VA Veteran’s Home in Huntsville, Alabama and he didn’t have much going on. This was evidently Lynn Towne’s idea. So it was suggested that we send some Christmas cards and encouraging notes to him and I’m not sure how many did it, but I know it was more than two. I sent it out to my e-mail list for P/75th and I sent him a nice card from us all with a P/75th coin and got a very nice letter back from his family thanking us. I later sent him two of our different t-shirts and he knows who we are now. I wanted to thank and recognize Jim Gates for his humanitarian act and his kindness towards another Ranger and let him know small acts like that do not go unrecognized, nor are they not appreciated by others. Not just the direct recipient. Well Done, Stepchild. Now back to Lynn Towne……… she is the daughter of a WWII Ranger and the Past or current President of the Sons and Daughters of the RBA of WWII. She is very active with that group and does so many things I can’t pin them all down. She has been fun to mess with and get messed with by for Jim and me for a while now and he is actually learning how to use his computer from answering all her messages. We’re lucky to have made her acquaintance.
Here’s a brief list of those who have said they plan to attend the reunion in July………. Jaci Glidden, her Navy pilot husband, her two siblings, her Mom, and kids from Memphis we hope. Her Dad was KIA in our company and his name was Johnny Lawrence. Steve Smith, a cobra pilot from the 158th AHB, 101st Ambl. Division, Garry Norton, Duke and Marion DuShane, Chris Sides (the wife of our KIA, Harold Sides, and a friend from the Dallas area), Grace Mayer and Mary Rossi (and Mary’s daughter), Joyce Boatman (and any of her family/friends she can bring), Bill Davis, Jim Femiano, the Tilson clan, Larry Smith, Terry Bishop I suspect, Steve and Barbara Nash, Sam “Brother G” Burnette and his wife, Peggy Sue, Jim Gates, Gregg “Spud/Chilly” Gain, Clyde Tanner and his family, Ed Hoppe, Rick and Margie Foringer, Jay and Marcia Lutz, Thomas and Gaynelle Wilson, Donnie Rose, and I even got an inquiry from John and Bonnie Beckwith, way out west in Seattle, Washington. Special note should be taken here to recognize John and Bonnie for the many times they have traveled across the United States to be with us over the years. The time and expense, not to mention the hassle it is, to fly these days makes their sacrifices and efforts to join us “special” in my eyes and I hope you all realize that. Feel free to thank them next time you see them in our AO. I’m sure there are more that I have missed but be sure to come and join us if you can.
Not a lot of news lately, but Jim Femiano has joined us here in Paradise while many of you continue to dig out of the snowstorms that have deluged everyone from the Florida panhandle to the bitter north in places like Minnesota (right Grace??) and northern Michigan (right Sgt. Auten) and even better yet, for Carney and Mary Walters in North Dakota along with their neighbors to the south, the Thomas and Emily Holtey family who live in sunny South Dakota. Probably pretty chilly up there in Buffalo, Clyde, and for you too, Fred Tompkins. Forefinger, I know how tough you NY railroad guys are, so you’re disqualified. Plus, I trained you at the relay site at Alpha 4 years ago to be tough and ruff. Femiano moved down here across the river from me to Merritt Island, Florida and got away from the arctic-like weather in Peoria, Illinois and is already getting acclimated as I heard him complaining the other day about the 50 degree temps we were having. I was to, but I’ve been here pretty much since 1963. You all be good and let me know if you need anything. RLTW !! Terry “Rock” Roderick
Winter 2009 Patrolling Papa Company Rangers
by Terry Roderick
With the holidays coming up, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday and also hope we all can make it through unscathed. We’re still in the process of finalizing our plans for our Summer 2010 Papa Company Reunion and trying to get dates and reservations set, but it seems like it’s hard to do until after the first of the year, so we’ll get the news out as soon as possible. We’re looking at the Cherokee, western NC area again, since we all seem to enjoy it and like the area so much. Plenty to do and the weather is usually bearable during the summer months. Before I forget…………. Jose Dominguez reported that he is fully recovered from that ground in Alabama rising up and hitting him so hard unexpectedly at the drop zone in Tuskegee, BUT “the ground” is continuing to have problems recovering from the blow that Jose gave it. Just like it used to be in the old days !! Ha! Ha! Thanks again Doc Sisk for handling that for us. How does it feel being adopted by us now ?? You can call me if you don’t want to make it public. We’ll understand !!
I recently got a phone call in late October from CSM George (he goes by Dave now as reported earlier) Gates to inquire about the challenge coins and some general conversation. He sounded good and told me he was healthy, cholesterol was good, blood pressure normal, and he works out every day in some form. I got a call two days later from his daughter, Amanda, that he had a massive stroke the day before (Saturday) and was in the hospital in Marietta, Ga. Amanda’s Mom, Linda, called me a day later and let me know how Dave was doing too. Of course that was a shock to everyone, but right now he is fighting back and has quite a long rehabilitation period ahead of him I suspect. Knowing him as I do and his attitude towards life, I have no doubt that he’ll get back as much as possible. Right now he is in a rehab facility and he has family and friends nearby to assist him. You can send cards to him at his home address : 2278 Forest Green Court, Marietta, GA 30062. Right now, I think that contacting him by phone might not be the best idea but if you wish to do so, contact me and I’ll do what I can to assist you. Dave retired a few years ago after 30 years of service this country and his last assignment was as CSM of the 1st Infantry Division in Germany and he had retired General, David Grange as his Division Commander. Dave and I attended General Grange’s retirement ceremony at the Ranger Memorial a few years ago and it was obvious to me that General Grange held Dave in very high esteem and that were very close friends.
As I write this article here in late November, I just had contact with Charles Pickering via e-mail. He lives in or around Tucson, AZ and now might have an accomplice in Bill Davis who moved there a couple of years ago from Oakland, Ca. I also have a younger Ranger Buddy from B/3/75th named Rick Smith who lives there also. I may have to make a road trip out that way or just fly into the AO and see what’s the attraction ?? I’m sure those 3 could make it interesting and keep me busy and in trouble the entire time if I go.
I’ve had some contact with Lucien “Gene” Pope lately too. It has taken me a bit longer than I like to finally get a handle on who he was?? Most of you who served with me will remember Gene by his photo and many probably went to the field with him at some point. I recall him as being a bit quieter and less conspicuous than some of us, but he obviously contributed like we all did and I see him in photos with Anthony Howell, so I assume they were close friends………. Here’s the body of our latest exchange and you can see how modest he is to this day. I mentioned to him that I’d like to spotlight him a bit and publish the photos he sent to me recently and here is his reply….”Terry, I deeply thank you for the thought. However I did nothing to write about. I just did my job and had a barrel of laughs with the greatest guys that ever walked God's green earth. You have my permission to use me in any way that you want to. I was there with SSG Gates, Steve Printz, Papa Bear, Anthony Howell, Fred Blankenship, Capt. Luke Ferguson , 1Lt. Korenek , Kearney Spencer, and others whose names escape me right now. Terry, I believe that you could find one of the guys that deserve paper space to write about but do what you think is best.” As you can see, like most of us, he has not changed that much over the years. I know he and Dave Gates had been in contact some over the past couple of years so I’m sure he is shocked and saddened by Dave’s recent health issues too. I’m hoping we can get Gene and his family to join us for our next Reunion this coming summer.
Being a first time Grandpa, I did the Halloween thing this year for really the first time. I had asked my ex-wife if we had done pumpkins for the kids when we were married and she did not remember doing them either. I think we just gave the girls more candy to try and make ourselves feel better for not taking the time and effort to make the mess and do the work needed for carving a pumpkin. My son-in-law had a bright idea and carved the pumpkin with Duke’s P/75th design but ran out of patience and time to do the fletching of the feathers on the wings, but it still came out pretty good after I put the marking pin and some ornaments on it. Maybe next year we’ll get it right, but you can see he did a nice job for the first time. I really enjoyed Halloween this year for the first time in a long time. One of the many blessings that many of you already know about from having grandchildren. I believe Macie will always be remembered for her quick smile and pleasant disposition in the future and I told her Mother not to expect all of her children in the future to be so easy to deal with.
On November 11th, Veterans Day, the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, celebrated their 25th Anniversary at Fort Benning with a reunion and services to dedicate a new 3rd Bn. Memorial. They held their annual Ranger Ball the next evening and had a large turnout with many of the former 3rd Bn. Rangers gathering to share laughs, memories, and the good times from years gone by. They are moving into the slot we used to occupy and we are moving either up or down the chronological ladder, depending on your perspective. I had planned to attend, but broke a tooth off the night before I was leaving and ended up in the dentist’s chair at the VA on the day before the festivities. I had hoped to get up and see many of the younger Rangers I’ve met over the years and spent time with. They are not that much different than we are actually. They’re prettier now and in much better shape physically, but they do enjoy our company and the brotherhood we share. If you get a chance in the future, spend some of your quality time with them when you’re in their AO, get to know some of them, and enjoy the fun and learning experience you will have.
In closing, Jay Lutz called me the other day. He is still in the process of having his hip replaced and somehow the operation went awry and the shaft that holds the ball broke out of his femur and they have to go back and repair it AGAIN !! During all this, they pulled a 5.56 mm round out of his buttocks that reared (like that one??) it’s ugly head. Big question now is…….
Which one of you shot him in the ass ?? I’d like to be able to express it more gently, but now that we have the evidence, someone is GUILTY !! Jay assured me that it was not one of our guys and that he got hit while serving with another unit before coming to P/75th, where it was so safe !! Some of you may remember that several years ago, he also had a piece of shrapnel removed from his scalp while doing another VA stint for an unrelated health issue. Jay has been a walking shrapnel cushion for years and we didn’t even know. Good thing he’s tougher than Kevlar (leather does not adequately describe Jay’s toughness). Our Ranger Daddy, Duke DuShane, just got home from having back surgery to fuse #3, 4, and 5 levels of his lower spine, two pins inserted, and 11 days in the hospital. He’ll be slowed down for about 4 months to recover and is up and about with a walker right now. I know he has been in severe back pain for years now and hopefully this will give him some relief and allow him a better quality of life.
In closing AGAIN, I still have the Challenge Coins and some t-shirts for anyone who needs a Christmas gift idea. The coins have been very well received and I think is an excellent way to leave your mark with those who you care about. I probably forgot something, but we’ll try again next time. Best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season and may you all get all you are asking for !! RLTW !! In Ranger brotherhood, Terry B. “Rock” Roderick
Fall 2009 Patrolling Papa Company Rangers
by Terry Roderick
Another Ranger Rendezvous/ 75th Ranger Regiment Association Reunion has come and gone and like it usually is, it was memorable for reasons that you just cannot plan for. For me, the highlight this year was the arrival of Momalani Lopez at the Columbus, Georgia airport on Thursday evening where she was greeted very warmly and lovingly by several members of our unit who came to make sure she felt right at home on her first ever visit with us. She had lost her husband, our brother, Raymond “Yogi” Lopez, just a few short months earlier. Carney and Mar y Walters had joined the Lopez family in California during the last weeks of Yogi’s life doing many chores and tasks that made things easier for the family and enjoyed some time with Yogi before he passed. Unfortunately we never got to see Yogi after Vietnam, as he was busy making a life for his family in California. We all thank Carney and Mary for helping arrange Momalani’s visit with us and we all regret that Yogi was unable to make it with her. Blue skies and fair winds to the Lopez family from your Papa Company brothers and sisters. As you’ll see in this issue of Patrolling, Carney wrote a nice testament to his close Ranger Buddy, Yogi, and it describes a hell of a man and Ranger!! I didn’t know Yogi personally, but Carney did a heck of a job in honoring his Buddy with his article.
Those in attendance this year at the 2009 Rendezvous/Reunion were Mary Rossi, Larry Smith, Clyde, Susan, and Sara Tanner, Jerry and Marlene Cornelius (Jerry’s son, Eric, is going through Flight School as we speak joined us with his significant other…. Way to go Flyboy !!), Jose Dominguez, Jim Femiano, Terry Bishop, Bill Davis, Duke and Marion DuShane (of course), Bobby Hampton, Ted Tilson and the Tilson clan, Mary and Carney Walters, Momalani Lopez, Joyce Boatman (we stole her from N/75th), Carol Jimenez (Roy and Joyce Boatman’s daughter who we also stole from N/75th), Fred Tompkins, and lastly, myself. I’d be remiss if I did not mention that we were extremely honored to have Redskin 16, former Cobra pilot, Steve Smith, join us again. We hope he will become a regular with us and he needs to learn to sleep at night instead of keeping “key personnel” up all night that have duties during the daylight hours. We’re close to adopting or stealing Marshall Larsen from the E/75th gang if they are not careful too. I hope I didn’t miss anyone. If I did, sorry!! We had a nice collection of guys and gals from the company as we always do. The only bad part was Jose breaking his wrist on a parachute jump at the Tuskegee airport on Friday. He joined about 50 others who made jumps that day. A Special Thank You to retired 1st Sgt. Ranger David “Doc” Sisk, another of our favorite Ranger sons from 3rd Bn. mostly (we will adopt him soon!!), who assisted Jose after the accident and took him under his wing and got him the care he needed (Doc, you’re adopted into P/75th now). Jose tells me he is healing nicely, so don’t cry for him anymore, Girls!! They had 3 wia’s this year jumping out of about 50, so I figure a casualty rate of 6% ain’t too bad considering the motley crew that was jumping that day !! Hat’s Off to all those who made the plunge that day!!
The new Infantry Museum was a big hit this year as it was open and they had the Regimental Change of Command there on the new parade grounds where soil from every major American battle was collected and used to prepare the area for use by many. Very impressive and it is now a real place to go and visit and learn about the Infantry. For our banquet dinner, we had several Guest Speakers to include, retired Colonel Danny McKnight, who was the 3rd Bn. Commanding Officer in 1993 during the Somalia firefight. Ruth Stonesifer, who is the new President of the Gold Star Mothers organization, was also a Guest Speaker. She lost her son, Ranger Kris Stonesifer, on October 19, 2001, soon after the GWOT began. We also had a lovely nurse, whose name escapes me, who spoke of her time in Vietnam and captivated the audience. We also had a Federal Judge who had Ranger training years ago and currently hosts veteran groups in his courtroom that needed a place to meet. It was an outstanding program and an outstanding reunion. Many thanks to all those who made it possible.
We’re looking at the Smokey Mountain area for our next reunion again. Seems like nearly everyone likes that area and we’re having Teddy Bear Tilson check out what is available to us. We might move west a bit into Eastern Tennessee near Pigeon Forge if we can find accommodations near a lake with some cabins or something instead of the usual hotel/motel living.
We now have our own “official” Papa Company Ranger Challenge Coin. As you can see there is quite a bit of artwork and the photo does not do it justice in my humble opinion. It is a Duke DuShane design and Jay Lutz’s bright idea and I helped!! I have them and they are available to you for $10.00 each, plus postage. email@example.com 25 Carleton Dr., Cocoa, FL 32922 321-631-3213. We have received some nice feedback on these coins and they are almost too pretty to be Ranger coins if you get my drift!! Ha! Ha! Be sure to get your while I have them. A nice, low cost, attractive way to commemorate your service in the unit.
I want to give a “shout out” to Jim “Stepchild” Gates. He told me he wanted to see his photo in Patrolling just one time so I want to accommodate him this issue. Jim lives in Alabama and recently sent me all his photos and such so I could scan them into our archives here in my home. I appreciated his confidence in me. Ernest Balliet, former K/75th Ranger who came to P/75th in November 1970 through March 1971 recently checked in on our website. Blue skies and fair winds to all. Rangers Lead the Way!! Terry B. Roderick
Team Killer 1-5 1971
Jim Stepchild Gates Papa Company Ranger
Jim Gates, Ed Hoppe, Spud Gain and Riley Miller at Cherokee in 2004
Jim Gates Turkey Hunter
Papa Company coin design original
........more Back Patrolling Articles to come.