Ranger tab pinned on Dutch NCO
March 11, 2014
By NICK DUKE
FORT BENNING, Ga. (March 12, 2014) -- For the second time in history, a Soldier from the Netherlands graduated from Ranger School and had his Ranger tab pinned to his shoulder Friday during a graduation ceremony at Hurley Hill.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Benne of the Royal Netherlands Army said he was proud to have earned his tab.
"I think it helps set me apart," he said. "I have to represent the Rangers, and help make my country familiar with the Ranger name because it's something new for them. A lot of people don't know what it is. But, the standards the Rangers stand for are something I'm going to try to take home and apply to my job."
Benne was one of two Dutch NCOs to come to the U.S. in September for Ranger School as part of a new exchange program between the two countries.
"We're from an air assault unit in my country, and at this time I'm an instructor at a leadership course," he said. "They're setting up an exchange program that would exchange an NCO for an NCO. So, an NCO would come from America to my country to train, and one of us would come to the U.S. to train."
Benne is the second Dutch NCO to earn the Ranger tab, as his colleague went straight through all phases.
"We came here together at the end of September, and he was fortunate enough to go straight through," Benne said. "I had the opportunity to redo one phase and enjoy myself a little longer at Ranger School."
Upon his arrival in September, Benne said it was not the culture that surprised him the most, but the climate.
"Besides the fact that I had to adjust to a different Army, temperature-wise it was very different," he said. "We came here in September two weeks before Ranger School just to get used to the weather because it was so hot compared to where I am from. But, I ended up being in one of the coldest classes."
While Benne said he was accustomed to the cold temperatures he encountered during Mountain Phase, he was not prepared for other aspects.
"I think the hardest part about Ranger School is the isolation from your homefront," Benne said. "It's just a really long haul. I've been deployed before to Afghanistan, and you have a lot more contact with your homefront there than you do at Ranger School. It makes it difficult not only for the Rangers, but for the loved ones back home. It's difficult thinking about your loved ones at home missing you."
However, Benne was reunited with his loved ones a bit earlier than he anticipated, as his parents made the trip to the U.S. for the ceremony, with his father, Hank Benne, pinning on his Ranger tab.
"I was not expecting them to come, and I was very enthusiastic that he was able to come over and pin on my tab," he said.