VCSA's remarks at Dawson and Adams Distinguished Service Cross

By VCSAMay 5, 2016

So I violated Rule #1, never show up late and keep Rangers waiting, so I hope that the rest of your experience today is an improvement on that starting point. To all of our distinguished guest, exemplary Ranger leaders past, present, and certainly future, most particularly Colonel Puckett, I don't know how I'd survive the last several years without getting reignited by your passion and your care for our great Rangers, but it is great to see you again. SGM Nelinger, it is good to see you still continue to refuse to let go of this great outfit that raised you as well, so its great seeing you and great being in the presence of so many friends of the 3rd Ranger Battalion and our valiant Ranger Regiment. So thanks for inviting me to speak at this historic event. Any day is a great day to get out of Washington D.C. . . . but particularly when there are 6 inches of snow on the ground and everybody is whining. But it's especially sweet to return to Fort Benning, to spend time with our beloved Rangers of the 3rd Ranger Battalion . . . men who lead our Army and set the example in everything they do . . . Rangers who live their lives by a solemn Creed. Know that as you embark in the dark of night, under a heavy combat load, armed to the teeth with our most advanced weapons . . . I live in envy, awe, and admiration . . . and I see your inspiring image in my mirror each and every morning . . . in fact, it enables me to strap on my this "combat gear" to help ensure we keep you and our Army at the razor's edge of readiness.

I am going to tell a story that all of you have heard before, but I think bears repeating on this important occasion. In 1974, General Creighton Abrams authorized the creation of Ranger Battalions with a charter to lead the Army by re-instilling standards, discipline, and fighting spirit in the post-Vietnam Force. Abram's Charter for these Battalions was to build the finest light Infantry Force in the world, founded on an unmatched Soldier and leader, who embraces a warrior ethos and then carries those values out to the rest of the Force. Foremost today, we celebrate the values of courage and valor in combat -- and in the words of Winston Churchill, and I quote "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is the quality that guarantees all others" end of quote.

The values you defend, your commitment and discipline to live by a strict Creed, build the essential trust between our Rangers and our combat brethren, our Army, and yes with the American people. They trust that you will always be ready . . . that you will never leave a fallen comrade, because you have developed unwavering courage to go the distance through discipline and commitment . . . no matter the adversity or the obstacle. General George Patton wrote in the aftermath of World War II, and I quote, "no sane man is unafraid in battle . . . but discipline produces in him a form of vicarious courage." End of quote. No one represents that discipline, courage and trust better than this Regiment, and all that you stand for and exemplify for our Army and Nation is what we celebrate here today.

As all of you here know better than most, our Nation is at risk. We are engaged in a war with an enemy that espouses a radical ideology and is intent on attacking the United States, our Families, and our very way of life. They proved this to us in 2001 when they attacked our nation and took 3000 American lives . . . sacrifice we will never forget. Today they capture and behead our aid workers who travel on missions of mercy and compassion, they eradicate thousands of their religious enemies, and attempt to brainwash youth around the globe through propaganda and blood-lusting video. Thank God our Rangers stand ready . . . committed to stopping this fanatical enemy. I have no doubt who will prevail . . . you here help ensure it will not be a fair fight for the enemies of America.

A less lethal threat is the growing separation between our military and the society we serve. During World War I and World War II Soldiers from every town in American fought in defense of our Nation--the connection to society was direct and visible. The success of the All Volunteer Force General Abrams helped build has given us the most powerful Army in history . . . but it means that only a small portion of our citizens . . . less than one percent . . . actually serve. Further, our technology portrays an image of decisive standoff against our enemies, but disguises the reality of close combat that you Rangers, and all combat veterans, know all too well. Combat is an inherently human endeavor . . . with all the pain, suffering, and yes, human triumph that we have all experienced. That is why this very public celebration of valor and Warrior Ethos is so essential for the preservation of our military's relationship with those we serve . . . essential to maintaining the sacred trust of all Americans, a necessary trust because we are the only Profession authorized to take life in close combat against the enemies of our country. On that fateful October day, Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Dawson and Sergeant Bryan Anderson, by doing their duty, demonstrated our revered Ranger Creed and Warrior Ethos that binds Rangers to the American people.

5 October 2013 was a terrible day. We lost several of our finest Soldiers, like Captain Jennifer Moreno, an Army Nurse who volunteered to serve with the Regiment on a Special Operations Cultural Support Team . . . like Sergeant Patrick Hawkins, a Ranger Team leader -- the foundational combat leadership position in our Regiment . . . like Sergeant Joseph Peters, a Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent conducting the essential law enforcement tasks necessary in modern warfare . . . and Specialist Cody Patterson, Ranger Specialist . . . the heart and soul of this combat Regiment. 18 Army Commendation Medals for Valor, 11 Bronze Star Medals for Valor, one Silver Star and now two Distinguished Service Crosses earned through valor and courage under fire in a single combat engagement.

At this time, I would like all of those of you who were present in Zhari District, Kandahar Province Afghanistan on the 5th and 6th of October to please stand and be recognized.

And it is typical of Rangers to be so humble that they would not want to stand and be recognized, but thanks for allowing an old man the honor of doing so.

To the families of those lost on that fateful day . . . we stand in reverent gratitude and commitment for your sacrifice. You are forever a part of the Ranger and the Army Family and history . . . and we collectively recommit our Service to the memory and honor of our fallen heroes.

October 5th and 6th carry several indelible realities beyond our unspeakable loss. It signals to the enemies of our country, that this Nation, this Army, this Regiment, knows where the enemy lurks and has men and women of courage . . . with the intestinal fortitude to reach out and hold them to account. Second, while many scars remain from that October evening, our Wounded Warriors are indomitable . . . their example serves to inspire and lead us forward demonstrating to this Nation what courage, determination and resolve truly look like. Finally, our public recognition of Staff Sergeant Dawson and Sergeant Anderson reinforces our trust in the courage, unwavering commitment and inspiring Leaders that make us the finest fighting force on the planet.

On October 5th and 6th Staff Sergeant Jeffery Dawson and Sergeant Bryan Anderson set the example that inspires our current Ranger force and will embolden generations to come. Today they join the ranks of Distinguished Service Cross recipients like General John Pershing from the war in the Philippines, General Creighton Abrams from World War II, Colonel Ralph Puckett from Korea and Vietnam, and Sergeant Craig Warfle from Afghanistan . . . truly an elite group of extraordinary heroes and patriots.

On October 5th and 6th in western Kandahar Province, you upheld the prestige, honor, and esprit de corps of your Ranger Regiment . . . you moved further, faster, and fought harder than any other Soldier . . . you did not fail your comrades . . . and you never left a fallen Comrade . . . and I am prouder than ever to be a Ranger in your midst today. God Bless you and all of our Heroes Serving Near and Far . . . Rangers Lead the Way!