After Action Report - WWII Rangers Reunion

About those World War II Rangers.... I can report that those fellows who served in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Ranger Battalions during World War II and were in attendance at the Reunion last week in Cleveland are doing and looking terrific. They make you proud just to be breathing the same air. Although some are in better shape physically than others, you can tell just by looking at their carriage, that the spirit that hung tough over 60 years ago has not been diminished by the passage of time. That opinion is only reinforced when you get a chance to talk with any one of them. It is etched in stone when you offer to shake hands and receive a firm, confident grip in return - one that lets you know that there is no nonsense here: that this is the real deal. I am very proud to have played a little part in this reunion, proud to have shaken hands, and shared a couple of drinks with these men. Asked to perform by Sherry Klein, the Public Affairs Director of the Ranger Memorial Foundation, I was pleased to be reunited with a number of the WWII Rangers I had spent some time with at prior affairs, saddened by the passing of a number of them, honored to meet and shake hands with some of the gracious widows and children, and to spend a little more time with MG Kenneth C. Leuer, president of the Ranger Memorial Foundation charter member of the Ranger Hall of Fame and first CO at the re-activation of the 1/75th Ranger Battalion in 1974. The proceedings opened with the reading of the ceremony in observation of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, by Colonel Doug Flohr, CO of the Ranger Training Command. This was particularly appropriate and touching in that Friday, 19 September 2008, had been designated as the official recognition day by way of presidential proclamation. In attendance were several Rangers who had been POWs during World War II - notably from the Batle of Cisterna, January-February 1944. I followed up with a song I wrote, The Flag of Our Fathers, honoring all World War II vets. I mentioned that while Tom Brokaw may have christened men of this time "The Greatest Generation", my friend Vic Power, from Kevin Barry's Pub , coined the title, "The Luckiest Generation." in reference to us: we who were lucky enough to have known these men, grown up under their guidance, and able to live in a world that they saved for and bequeathed to us. We, who have reaped the benefits that men like this fought and died for remain in their debt. Then I went into a number of tunes and songs dating from, George M. Cohan material - especially for my old pal SSGT George Simodejka - through World War II, some Irish and up to today. After a quick bite of chow, I continued with the program to include more songs, toasts and a song written for the Rangers during the War. Set to the tune of Cohan's "Grand Old Flag", "Rangers True" was sung that night by a remarkable 88 year old, tough as leather, Ranger whom I only got to know as "Uncle Reggie". I finished off with my song "One Nation United" and then "The Star Spangled Banner". That ended my twist, and I was invited by a Ranger to join them for a drink or two in the hospitality suite. I did this and enjoyed the company thoroughly. (By the way, Cleveland is a lovely town. I hope to appear there at the Cleveland Irish Festival next year. We'll see.) Owing to a home emergency, I was unable to stay the next day and so missed hearing GEN Leuer's talk at the dinner that evening. It shall always be a point of pride that I had a chance to be with these fine men. Each and everyone of them a gentleman - some of the nicest men who ever slit the throat of an enemy. Speaking of that, this is still in the works, so it isn't definite just yet, but next month on 23 October, through the good graces of Leo Rahill of the Philadelphia Police Department, the 1/75th Ranger Battalion, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and Victor Power, of Kevin Barry's Pub, there may be a press the flesh/book signing in Warrior's Hall on the second floor of Kevin Barry's. The guests of honor will be "Wild" Bill Guarnere and Edward "Babe" Heffron from Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division, The "Band of Brothers". Bill and Babe have written a book, Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends . If the event comes off, this will be your opportunity to meet these men and buy an autographed copy of their book. I've read it and it's terrific. It pulls no punches. If you want the real skinny, here's a chance to get it and to meet the men involved. As I say, this isn't quite etched in stone as yet, so you'll have to phone Kevin Barry's for details. 912-233-9626. You can try e-mailing contact@kevinbarrys.com, but it's probably better to phone as the date draws closer. On 2,3,4 October, I'll be at Delaney's in Columbia, SC. Hope to see some of you there. That's about it for now. My records and book and paraphernalia are still available at www.frankemerson.com. They can be paid for by way of credit card.

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