In July 1981, the Ranger department was asked to design and conduct a Ranger Olympics to identify the best two-man buddy team.
From the very beginning, the objective was clear: the competition should place extreme demands on each buddy teams’ physical, mental, technical and tactical skills as Rangers. The standards of performance were to test the mettle of those Ranger-qualified Soldiers who dared to compete. The Best Ranger Competition was named in honor of Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr., former Ranger instructor and Ranger department director, and who, at one time, commanded Fort Benning, Ga., the 2nd Infantry Division, and the U.S. Sixth Army.
Richard A. Leandri, Grange’s close personal friend, formed the Chairborne Rangers of Clearwater, Fla., in 1979, to financially support the competition and provide awards to the winning teams.
In 1981, Col. Duane Cameron, commander of the Ranger department, developed the operational concept and schedule of events for the first Best Ranger Competition, which was further refined by his successor, Col. Eugene Hawkins.
In 1982, buddy teams from each of the three Ranger department divisions competed against each other in the first Best Ranger Competition. The competition expanded in 1982, to include teams from the Ranger battalions and Special Operations units throughout the Army.
In 1985, the competition was further expanded to include light infantry units, and by 1987, the increased interest in the competition resulted in an Army-wide invitation to all units with Ranger-coded positions. Many of the participating commands conduct preliminary competitions to select the teams that will represent them on Fort Benning each year, resulting in only the best Ranger-qualified Soldiers competing.
Capt. Robert Killian and Staff Sgt. Erich Friedlein
Army National Guard