By Don Kramer, Fort Lewis Northwest GuardianOctober 13, 2006
FORT LEWIS, Wash. (Army News Service, Oct. 11, 2006) - Nothing lasts forever, but the Rangers made a tribute last week to their fallen comrades that will last for generations by etching their names in granite.
The 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, held a memorial ceremony Sept. 27 in the Ranger quad to honor those who have died during combat or training since the battalion was reorganized in 1974. In a solemn ceremony, the battalion commander and command sergeant major dedicated a black granite memorial to the memory of their fallen battalion members, placing a wreath at the foot of the gleaming obelisk.
One side displays an inscription from President Theodore Roosevelt praising their courage to take risks, while engraved on the sides are the names of Rangers who died during training, in operations Urgent Fury in Grenada and Just Cause in Panama, and in the global war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We are here," said battalion commander Lt. Col. Michael E. Karilla, "to honor 23 Rangers who died in defense of the nation."
Karilla quoted the final paragraph of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here ... from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."
The commander faced the pavilion that housed the family members who traveled to the ceremony and said, "Because of the 23 Rangers whose names are etched in granite on the monument in front of you ... America will always have (its) freedoms."
He concluded with the words of former Ranger commander, Col. William O. Darby: "We must never forget the incredibly high price of freedom. We will never forget our fallen comrades. They will never be considered dead. They will always live with us in spirit."
The assembled battalion recited the Ranger Creed, which was followed by a 21-gun salute and a haunting rendition of "Taps" by I Corps bugler, Sgt. Richard Little. After reading the names of the fallen, the family members were invited forward to trace the names of their loved ones onto sheets of paper.
Rangers from the 2nd Battalion paid for the monument themselves. Master Sgt. Kevin Geary, the S2 NCOIC, suggested the idea, he said, in October, 2005. He discussed his concept with Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas O. Pallaster. As the two spread the word, their fellow Rangers contributed money enthusiastically.
"It became a battalion project," Geary said.
They selected a block of "galaxy granite" that took over three months to travel from India and arrive at the Tacoma Monument Company for etching.
The side of the obelisk to the rear that faced Headquarters Company was intentionally left blank.
"I hope the back side never has to be filled," Geary said.