The modern day Army Rangers, an elite fighting force based right here at home, are celebrating their 30th anniversary. In 1974, the First Battalion 75th Infantry parachuted into Fort Stewart, and the era begun. Today, the legacy of 1974 can be seen through the eyes of Army Rangers using their training in Iraq. From the front lines of Iraq and the war on terror to undercover missions behind enemy lines, the Rangers are the Army's elite commandos.
We talked with a man who served in the regiment a quarter century ago, and he spoke about tradition. Charles Irby was one of the originals. In 1978, four years after the start of the modern Army Rangers,, Irby joined up. After six years as a Marine, he wanted a new challenge, and he liked what the Rangers stood for.
"It's a unit," he told us. "It's a tight-knit group who looks after one another. That had a lot to do with it."
Irby now lives on Wilmington Island with his wife and his memories. He says Ranger training was rough, but it had to be. Like the Rangers of today, he says there is one common goal: "to do your mission the best you could."
Sgt. Justin Bishop, a student Ranger, added, "The mission of a Ranger in today's world is to complete a task that you are given no matter how hard the mission is, or if you want to say, 'I can't do it,' to complete your mission and do it right."
Bishop is like Irby circa 1978. While some things haven't changed in 30 years, others have. In today's world, Irby says the public knows much more about Army Ranger activity than ever before. "We didn't know where we were going," he said. "We didn't know until we came back, and they'd tell us where we had been."
But Irby won't let go of his proud Ranger legacy. "I'm still a Ranger," he said. "Always will be."
And some traditions don't die. Like the first Army Rangers in 1974, today's Rangers still parachute into Fort Stewart when they come home from a mission. And just to give you an idea how valuable they are, the Army Rangers aided in the capture of Saddam Hussein.