THE VIETNAM WAR

With the growing United States involvement in the Vietnam War, Rangers were again called to serve their country. The 75th Infantry was reorganized once more on January 1, 1969, as a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System. Fifteen separate Ranger companies were formed from this reorganization. Thirteen served proudly in Vietnam until inactivation on August 15, 1972.

 Ranger companies, consisting of highly motivated volunteers, served with distinction in Vietnam from the Mekong Delta to the Demilitarized Zone. Assigned to independent brigade, division, and field force units, they conducted long-range reconnaissance and exploitation operations into enemy-held and denied areas, providing valuable combat intelligence.

 The companies assumed the assets of the long-range patrol units, some of which had been in existence in Vietnam since 1967. They served until the withdrawal of American troops. An Indiana National Guard Unit, Company D, 151st Infantry (Ranger), also experienced combat in Vietnam.

 At the end of the war in Vietnam, Ranger companies were deactivated, and their members were dispersed among the various units of the Army. Many men went to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. However, two long-range reconnaissance patrol units were retained in the force structure. Transferred to the Army National Guard (D/151st, Indiana and G/143rd, Texas), they were designated as Infantry Airborne Ranger Companies.

This history deals with the activities, personnel and accomplishments of the 75th Infantry (Ranger), Regiment companies during the period 1 February 1969 through 15 October 1974 and makes reference to the units who preceded the designation of the 75th Infantry (Ranger).

Throughout history, the need for a small, highly trained, far ranging unit to perform reconnaissance surveillance, target acquisition, and special type combat missions has been readily apparent. In Vietnam this need was met by instituting a Long Range patrol program to provide each major combat unit with this special capability. Rather than create an entirely new unit designation for such an elite force, the Department of the Army looked to its rich and varied heritage and on 1 February 1969 designated the 75th Infantry Regiment; the present successor to the famous 5307th Composite Unit (MERRILL'S MARAUDERS), as the parent organization for an Department of the Army designated Long Range patrol (LRP) units, and the parenthetical designation (RANGER) in lieu of (LRP) for these units. As a result, the Long Range Patrol Companies and Detachments (LRP): formally the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) (Provisional) assigned to the major army commands in the Republic of Vietnam became the 75th Infantry (Ranger) Regiment.

Soon after arriving in Vietnam the commanders of the Divisions and separate Brigades realized the need for an elite reconnaissance element to provide the combat intelligence needed to accomplish the mission of finding a very elusive enemy that fought a sustained battle when, and where they chose.

The Department of the Army had authorized a Company size reconnaissance element at Corp level throughout the US Army but the personnel and equipment had never been assigned to the Corp level command. In fact the only Corp level reconnaissance elements that existed were the V Corps and VII Corps Long Range Reconnaissance companies that were stationed in Germany. These units had the primary mission of a stay behind force that would provide the Corps level command with the intelligence needed after the allied forces had withdrawn from West Germany. The reconnaissance teams would report on enemy troop movements and tactical deployment of the enemy forces.

With the advent of the Vietnam war escalation, each Division and Separate Brigade stationed in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) formed a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (Provisional) unit known as the LRRP. Many variations of organizational makeup characterized this ad hoc form of a provisional unit. Each brigade commander organized the LRRP to suit the needs of his command and the Tactical Area Of Operational Responsibility (TAOR). Command and Control was decentralized and given to the Brigade commanders who asked for volunteers from the infantry units assigned to the brigade.

These units lacked peace time schooling and had no Department of the Army approved Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E). The leaders were the officers and non commissioned officers who previously had attended the RANGER course or the RECONDO schools of the 1O1st Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne Division or the Jungle Operations Center in Panama. These units were functional for the period of May 1965 through December 1967. In December 1967 the Department of me Army authorized the formation of the Long Range Patrol (LRP) companies and detachments who absorbed the personnel of the previously unauthorized Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (Prov) units.

 

UNIT MAJOR COMMAND

Co. D, 17th Infantry, (LRP) V Corps Federal Republic of Germany

Co. C, 58th Infantry (LRP) VII Corps Federal Republic of Germany

Co. E, 20th Infantry (LRP) I Field Force Vietnam

Co. F, 51st Infantry (LRP) II Field Force Vietnam

Co. D, 151st Infantry (LRP) II Field Force Vietnam

Co. E, 50th Infantry (LRP) 9th Infantry Division

Co. F, 50th Infantry (LRP) 25th Infantry Division

Co. E, 51st Infantry (LRP) 23rd Infantry Division

Co. E, 52d Infantry (LRP) 1st Cavalry Division

Co. F, 52nd Infantry (LRP) 1st Infantry Division

Co. E, 58th Infantry (LRP) 4th Infantry Division

Co. F, 58th Infantry (LRP) 1O1st Airborne Division

71st Infantry Detachment (LRP) 199th Infantry Brigade

74th Infantry Detachment (LRP) 173rd Airborne Brigade

78th Infantry Detachment (LRP) 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division

79th Infantry Detachment (LRP) 1st Brigade, 5th Mechanized Division

These units continued to operate throughout the 4 Military Regions of the Republic of Vietnam providing the major commands with the intelligence needed to find the enemy and disrupt his line of communication and supply. The mission designator of "Reconnaissance" was dropped as these units performed not only reconnaissance type missions but also combat missions such as ambush, prisoner snatch and raids.

Each individual unit conducted their own training and indoctrination classes. On 1 February 1969 the above units became 75th Infantry (Ranger) companies except for Co. D, l5lst Infantry (LRP) of the Indiana National Guard which only dropped the (LRP) designation but added the (Ranger) designation. Department of the Army ordered that the above shown units would now be designated as shown below.

 

UNIT MAJOR COMMAND PERIOD OF SERVICE

Co A (Ranger),75th Infantry Ft Benning / Ft Hood 1 Feb. 1969 - 15 Oct. 1974

Co B (Ranger),75th Infantry Ft Carson / Ft Lewis 1 Feb. 1969 - 15 Oct. 1974

Co C (Ranger),75th Infantry I Field Force Vietnam 1 Feb. 1969 - 25 Oct. 1971

Co D (Ranger),151st Infantry II Field Force Vietnam 1 Feb. 1969 - 20 Nov. 1969

Co D (Ranger),75th Infantry II Field Force Vietnam 20 Nov. 1969 - 10 Apr. 1970

Co E (Ranger),75th Infantry 9th Infantry Division 1 Feb. 1969 - 12 Oct. 1970

Co F (Ranger),75th Infantry 25th Infantry Division 1 Feb. 1969 - 15 Mar 1971

Co G (Ranger),75th Infantry 23rd Infantry Division 1 Feb. 1969 - 1 Oct. 1971

Co H (Ranger),75th Infantry 1st Cavalry Division 1 Feb. 1969 - 15 Aug. 1972

Co I (Ranger),75th Infantry 1st Infantry Division 1 Feb. 1969 - 7 Apr. 1970

Co K (Ranger),75th Infantry 4th Infantry Division 1 Feb. 1969 - 10 Dec. 1970

Co L (Ranger),75th Infantry 1O1st Airmobile Division 1 Feb. 1969 - 25 Dec. 1971

Co M (Ranger),75th Infantry 199th Infantry Brigade 1 Feb. 1969 - 12 Oct. 1970

Co N (Ranger),75th Infantry 173rd Airborne Brigade 1 Feb. 1969 - 25 Aug. 1971

Co 0 (Ranger),75th Infantry 3rd Brigade,82nd Abn. 1 Feb. 1969 - Division 20 Nov. 1969

Co P (Ranger),75th Infantry 1st Brigade, 5th Mech. 1 Feb. 1969 - Division 31 Aug. 1971

 

The above Ranger companies of the 75th Infantry conducted combat Ranger missions and operations for three years and seven months, every day of the year while in Vietnam, and companies A,B, and 0 performed Ranger missions state side for five years and eight months. Like the original unit from whence their lineage as Neo Marauders was drawn, 75th Rangers came from the Infantry, Artillery, Engineers, Signal Medical Military Police, Food Service, Parachute Riggers and other Army units. They were joined by former adversaries, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers who became "Kit Carson Scouts" and fought alongside the Rangers against their former units and comrades.

Unlike Rangers of other eras in the 20th century who trained in the United States or in friendly nations overseas, Rangers in Vietnam were activated, trained and fought in the same geographical areas, a high speed approach to training. Training was a combat mission for volunteers. Volunteers were assigned and not accepted in the various Ranger companies until after a series of patrols by which the volunteer had passed the acid test of a Ranger, combat, and was accepted by his peers. Following peer acceptance, the volunteer was allowed to wear the black beret and red, white and black scroll shoulder sleeve insignia bearing his Ranger company identity. All Ranger companies were authorized parachute pay.

Modus operandi for patrol insertion varied, however the helicopter was the primary means for insertion and ex-filtration of enemy rear areas. Other methods included foot, wheeled, tracked vehicles, airboats, Navy swift boats, and stay behind missions where the Rangers stayed in place as a larger tactical unit withdrew. False insertions by helicopter was a means of security from ever present enemy trail watchers. General missions consisted of locating the enemy bases and lines of communication. Special missions included wiretap, prisoner snatch, Platoon and Company size Raid missions and Bomb Damage Assessments (BDA's) following B-52 Arc Light missions as well as the ambush mission that was common after the Ranger team had performed its primary mission.

Staffed principally by graduates of the US Army Ranger School Paratroopers and Special Forces trained men, the bulk of the Ranger volunteers came from the soldiers who had no chance to attend the school, but carried the fight to the enemy. Rangers in the grade of E-4 to E-6 controlled fires from the USS New Jersey's 16 inch guns in addition to helicopter gun ships, piston engine and high performance aircraft while frequently operating far beyond conventional artillery and infiltrated enemy base camps, capturing prisoners or conducting other covert operations. The six man Ranger team was standard and a twelve man team was used for combat patrols in most instances, however some units operated occasionally in two man teams in order to accomplish the mission.

The Vietnam Rangers of the 75th Infantry were awarded the title of Neo Marauders by the Secretary of the Army, Stanley Resor, for having lived up to the standards set by the original Marauders during World War II. Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams who observed the 75th Ranger operations in Vietnam as commander for all US forces there, selected the 75th Rangers as the role model for the first US Army Ranger units formed in peacetime in the history of the United States Army. Today, the modern Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment continue the tradition of being the premier fighting element of the active army. The traditions and dedication to their fellow RANGERS continues!!

 

75th INFANTRY (RANGER) REGIMENT, VIETNAM ENTITLEMENTS

Campaign Streamers, Vietnam

Counteroffensive Phase VI

Tet 69 Counteroffensive

Summer- Fall 1969

Winter- Spring 1969

Sanctuary Counteroffensive

Counteroffensive Phase VII

Consolidation I

Consolidation II

Cease Fire

Decorations, Vietnam

RVN Gallantry Cross w/Palm - 23 Awards

RVN Civil Actions Honor Medal - 10 Awards

US Valorous Unit Award - 6 Awards

US Meritorious Unit Commendation - 2 Awards

 
 
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