By Maj. Anthony Mayne, 75th Ranger RegimentApril 23, 2015
FORT BENNING, Ga. (USASOC News Service, April 23, 2015) -- Family, Rangers and MCoE leaders gathered in the Martin Army Community Hospital atrium to unveil the road sign bearing the name of beloved special operations warrior, Master Sgt. Jared Van Aalst at a dedication ceremony April 17.
A native of Laconia, N.H. e, Van Aalst entered the Army as a signal support systems specialist Aug. 17, 1995, and died at age 34 in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, in August 2010, of wounds suffered while his special operations unit was conducting combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, Maneuver Center of Excellence commanding general, and others directly influenced by Van Aalst's service to the nation, honored him and his family during the dedication ceremony.
"You have to understand what men like Jared do," Miller said. "Men like Jared go out on target every night. They do it for each other."
Miller went on to thank the Van Aalst for the sacrifice of their son, husband, and father.
"You are the distinguished guests today," Miller said.
Van Aalst earned an assignment to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning where the friendship he developed with Sgt. Maj. Clay Usie, 75th Ranger Regiment Signal sergeant major, flourished.
In remarks prepared by Usie, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Eddie Nolan said, "His presence and persona projected 'quiet professionalism' before I even understood what the true meaning of quiet professionalism meant."
During his time at Fort Benning, Van Aalst was also an award-winning member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit.
"Those of you that had the privilege of knowing and working with Jared know that his desire for constant self-improvement was a defining character trait throughout his life," said Sgt. 1st Class Emil Praslick, U.S. Army Marksmanship Service Rifle Head Coach.
"I have never seen anybody with more natural shooting ability than Jared," Praslick said.
At the Marksmanship unit, Van Aalst anchored the Army Marksmanship Team to its first rifle championship since 1987 and won the 2005 individual service rifle individual championship, Praslick remarked.
Van Aalst's legacy to the Army included redesigning the Squad Designated Marksmanship courses to meet the training demand as a result of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. To this day, the Marksmanship Unit's Master Marksmanship Training Course is still using the materials developed by Van Aalst, Praslick said.
After a return of assignment to 3rd Ranger Battalion to serve as the unit's sniper platoon sergeant, Van Aalst became a special operations team member in 2008 with U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.
"It is completely befitting that this pathway to healing, which will be used for many future generations to come, is being rightfully named in Jared's memory," Nolan said in remarks read from Col. Christopher Vanek, 75th Ranger Regiment Commander.
"Everything Jared did, he did with precision, perfection and an unparalleled level of skill and care," Vanek wrote. "The same traits that we can only hope the practitioners that utilize this boulevard will bring to their jobs everyday as they treat our sick, infirmed or wounded."
The Van Aalst Boulevard sign is proximately displayed at the entrance of the hospital on the road connecting Dixie Highway and Marne Road.