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Anderson says Army better for Ranger ‘gifts’
Ranger Training Brigade honors distinguished members

Story and photo by Bridgett Siter/The Bayonet

FORT BENNING, Ga. (TRADOC News Service, April 29, 2005) – Given the option to revisit Ranger School or combat, Bill Mixon would likely choose the latter.

“The Ranger course was tougher,” said Mixon, who retired as a command sergeant major in 1983, with two combat tours in Vietnam and more than 1,500 parachute jumps.

“I got more sleep in combat than Ranger School,” he said. “The Ranger course is the equivalent of three combat missions. The only difference was they weren’t firing live ammo at us. I think.”

Mixon and eight of his comrades reminisced about their days with the Ranger Training Brigade or its predecessor, the Ranger Department, April 21 during the annual Distinguished Member of the Brigade Induction Ceremony at Pruden Hall.

“These are legendary Rangers,” said Col. K.K. Chinn, RTB commander. “We have such a proud history because of these gentlemen.”

Maj. Gen. Dorian Anderson, commander of Human Resources Command, said the honorees were “receiving their dues” for giving of themselves as Rangers.

The “theme of the day,” said Anderson, who commanded the RTB from 1996-1998, was giving, and he quoted Luke Chapter 6, Verse 38.

“It says, ‘Give, comma, and it shall be given unto you,’” he said. “You give first. It’s a biblical principle that works for everybody. You understand the cycle.

“Today is our chance to give back,” he said. “As Rangers, you gave a lot to me. This is what you get back: appreciation, acknowledgement, respect and honor.”

Anderson listed the ways Rangers have “given” to the Army.

Field-artillery units are using Ranger techniques, he said, and “regular old Army units are doing night live fires to Ranger standards.” Soldiers are doing physical training every day, and “now the whole Army road marches” — a “gift” from the Rangers, he said, and the Army borrowed from the Ranger Creed when establishing its own.

“And finally, the black beret, a touchy subject,” he said. “You gave that to the Army, and the Army is better for it. I’m going to report to you that Rangers still lead the way.”

Retired Maj. Bill Spies, a former Ranger Department deputy director, said he was honored to be among “such a good bunch of people” as he was being inducted.

“I’m going to remark on what the general said earlier about it being better to give than receive,” Spies said. “I can tell you it works. I’ve never been on the receiving end of a raid, but I’ve ‘given’ a few. I can verify it is better to give than receive.”

Retired Col. Elliot Sydnor, Ranger Department commander from 1977-1980, was the ground forces commander of the raid on prisoner-of-war camp Son Tay in North Vietnam in 1971. American forces tried to rescue 55 POWs who had been moved to another site shortly before the raid.

Sydnor said the raid was “a failure,” but in the long run, the mission proved beneficial to the POWs, who were moved to better conditions and treated much better, and to Soldiers today who still study Son Tay in Army schools. The mission, he said, was proof Rangers “are not God.”

“But they do perform miracles,” he told the crowd. “I was part of one of those miracles when I came here for training in 1953. They taught me what I needed to know to be successful.”

Besides Mixon, Spies and Sydnor, the brigade inducted the late Maj. Gen. John Van Houten, retired Col. Robert “Tex” Turner, retired Lt. Col. Keith Antonia, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Fred Weekley, retired Command Sgt. Maj. James Collier, retired Sgt. Maj. Mike Ramsey and Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Kelso, the Infantry Center’s command sergeant major.

"I can tell you it works," said retired Maj. Bill Spies, right, of Maj. Gen. Dorian Anderson's speech at Fort Benning, Ga., about giving.

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