FORT HOOD, Texas -- Odds are a funny thing. The odds of winning the lottery can be hundreds of millions to one, but somebody will eventually win. Maybe that someone is next door.
That is the case for Ranger Class 12-94, where two battalion commanders, a first sergeant and a company executive officer all find themselves in the same brigade combat team nearly 17 years after graduating Ranger School together.
Lt. Col. Chip Daniels, commander of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division; Lt. Col. Mark Davey, commander of 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team; Cpt. William Soto, the executive officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Special Troops Battalion; and 1st Sgt. John Edwards, of A Co., 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, are all now part of the Black Jack Brigade; defying the odds even more by working out of the same headquarters building.
"Ranger class 12-94 was nothing out of the ordinary," explained Daniels. "The class began as all do; the premier training event for small unit leaders. The odds were when our Soldiers finished the course, their chances of seeing each other again were good, but serving together, in the same brigade, and the same building - that's a winning (lottery) ticket!"
None of these Soldiers had really stayed in contact over the years, making there meeting all the more surprising for them.
"I showed up here one week before the change of command, and I saw Chip's name and thought it looked familiar, but it didn't click," said Davey. "We saw each others face and instantly recognized (each other)."
Later, Daniels and Davey recognized Soto and Edwards, and the group has been reliving memories ever since.
"The reunions have been interesting," said Daniels, who remembers one story particularly vividly.
"Our group was slugging through the Florida swamps, and after days without sleep, I was beginning to hallucinate. Because of this, I kept wandering off and the instructors finally got so angry that they forced us all to tie into a giant rope and continue moving while attached together. After hours of getting caught on trees and stumbling around, we were finally allowed to disconnect and sleep wherever we could."
Although none of the other Soldiers knew it was Daniels' fault at the time, they have since learned and have thanked him for one of their more miserable nights.
Although Ranger school was a long time ago for these Soldiers, the memories and friendships they forged there are still strong.
"I think I know him [Daniels] as well as some of his friends that have known him for years because I've seen him at his best and worst," said Davey.
"We've shared some pretty rough times together," said Soto. "Now that we know that we went to Ranger School together we can look at each other and say 'I went through the same things you did.'"
"I didn't think I would end up working with any of them," said Daniels. "I've seen someone I was in Ranger School with maybe once or twice before this. For there to be so many of us [here], it will probably never happen again."
What makes it especially unique, according to Edwards, is the fact that while he and Soto were both infantry, Daniels was an armor officer and Davey was a military intelligence officer, two fields that didn't commonly go through Ranger school at the time.
"The oddity is that we are together and from so many different branches," he said.
With Ranger School long since passed, these Soldiers will continue to forge new memories together as they work alongside one another and continue to prepare for future deployments.