While I was never active-duty, I did train with my college’s ROTC Battalion in my first year there (1983-84). During that time, I qualified for the Battalion’s Ranger Platoon. I must hasten to be clear that I was not a U.S. Army Ranger; I did not attend Ranger School and I was not awarded the Ranger tab. I was not a Ranger.
By qualifying for the Ranger Platoon, however, I was afforded the privilege of wearing the black beret (then the distinctive Ranger head-gear) and woodland-pattern camouflage BDUs, at a time when everyone else in ROTC wore OD fatigues and a ball-cap; and I had the opportunity for some additional training. I was – we were – also expected to serve as models and inspirations for the rest of the cadets. In other words, I had a taste – just a taste – of being a Ranger.
As a result, I have a tremendously high amount of respect for real U.S. Army Rangers. And as someone who wore the Army uniform, even for a short while, and whose forebears fought in the Army in two World Wars – my father in World War Two, his father in World War One – both decorated combat veterans, both wounded in action, I have a huge respect for the U.S. Army in general, and the Infantry in particular.
“Follow Me!” and “Rangers Lead the Way!” are two slogans – better, two approaches to living – which I have tried (not always with complete success) to live out in my civilian life. In honor of that passion for excellence, and that determination to defend our nation and its way of life, I offer the Soldiers Creed, the Infantryman’s Creed, and the Rangers Creed:
I am an American Soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.
I am the Infantry.
I am my country’s strength in War,
her deterrent in peace.
I am the heart of the fight –
I carry America’s faith and honor
against her enemies.
I am the Queen of Battle.
I am what my country expects me to be –
the best trained soldier in the world.
In the race for victory,
I am swift, determined, and courageous,
armed with a fierce will to win.
Never will I fail my country’s trust.
Always I fought on –
through the foe,
to the objective,
to triumph over all.
If necessary, I fight to my death.
By my steadfast courage,
I have won 200 years of freedom.
I yield not:
to superior odds,
for I am mentally tough, physically strong,
and morally straight.
I forsake not –
my sacred duty.
I am relentless
I am always there,
now and forever.
I AM THE INFANTRY!
The Ranger Creed
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
Rangers lead the way!