FORT BENNING, GA (Tracy Bailey) – The Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment had the honor of hosting a young man whose soul desire is to be a U.S. Army Ranger.
Eleck Stone, 8, from Capitan, N.M., knew early on in life that he wanted to be in the Army.
“My great-grandpa was in the Army and he told me stories,” said Eleck. “I really want to be a Ranger because they lead the way.”
Eleck’s, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at six, wish came true March 19-20 at Fort Benning, Ga.
Eleck and his brother Bryce, 6, started their journey to become Rangers with a short tour of the Regimental Headquarters, and met up with their assigned Fire Team.
They were automatically promoted to private first class by the Regimental Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Chuck Albertson.
This would be the first of many promotions during the next two days.
Eleck’s fire team came from D Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and out of the four men assigned to escort Eleck, his favorite was Cpl. Patrick Crum, now and forever known as “Crum-Dog.”
Following a traditional Army breakfast, the young Soldiers moved out to Honor Field to conduct initial manifest call, airborne sustainment training, and observe Rangers preparing for an airborne operation which including pushing a bundle of equipment out of a C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Eleck and Bryce then received a tour of D Co., 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment, where they learned about life in a Ranger Company.
“We taught Eleck and Bryce a lot of the finer details about being a Ranger, like always sharing your chow with your Ranger buddy, the joy of a tab check, and not just telling them how to live the Ranger Creed but showing them how to live the creed and how it applies to everyday life,” said Sgt. 1st Class Miltiades Houpis, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
One of Eleck’s favorite things to say in a room full of highly trained U.S. Army Rangers, “Tab check!”
“I would say this and everyone that didn’t have a Ranger Tab had to do push-ups,” Eleck said.
The Soldiers were then promoted to the rank of ppecialist.
Next stop was 3rd Battalion’s rigger shed, where the young Soldiers saw Rangers getting ready for the jump and they also got to see the inside of a C-130.
“It’s pretty cool in here,” Eleck said. “I like sitting in the pilot’s seat.”
After lunch, which consisted of MREs, the Soldiers rode in all-terrain vehicles out to Fryar Drop Zone where they watched the jump.
After the airborne operations were complete, Eleck and Bryce were promoted to sergeant and awarded airborne wings for completing all of the requirements to become airborne qualified.
3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment set up a static display on Peden Field which included various weapon systems, a Stryker and a Ground Mobility Vehicle.
Eleck and Bryce were able to test all of the equipment and ask questions of the Rangers.
The Soldiers then moved back to Honor Field by way of the Stryker to observe Rangers conduct Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System training off the tower.
All of the training Eleck and Bryce had received during the day lead up to the afternoon’s culminating event – the mission – to capture a high value target.
“We did a squad hit where they got to put on the field gear that we wear. We went into a building which was completely dark,” Crum said. “The boys had their night vision on; we detained some bad guys and they got to watch the multi-purpose canines conduct training which they really liked.”
The young Soldiers were promoted to staff sergeant and awarded the Expert Infantryman’s Badge.
Day two consisted of marksmanship training on Farnsworth Range and Ranger First Responder training at the Downing Mile.
Under the watchful eyes and training of the Fire Team, Eleck and Bryce were able to fire the M9 and the M4. Following their weapons training, the Soldiers observed a class of Ranger Assessment and Selection Program candidates conduct weapons training.
They were then promoted to sergeant first class.
After their promotion to sergeant first class, Eleck and Bryce were presented with their leadership boards and a copy of the Ranger Blue Book, the unit’s standards policy carried by all members of the regiment, signed by the fire team.
The afternoon concluded with the combat medics of the Regimental Special Troops Battalion conducting Ranger First Responder Training with the Soldiers.
After learning about the medical equipment Rangers carry with them in training and combat, Eleck and Bryce were part of a team that rescued a simulated casualty in a deep ravine.
The Soldiers were lowered into the ravine by way of a zip line. They triaged and packed the wounded Ranger in a tactical litter and assisted the team in transporting the Ranger to the medical evacuation location.
They were promoted to master sergeant.
Ranger First Responder training concluded all the events that Eleck needed before he went before the assessment and selection board to see if he has what it takes to be part of the elite 75th Ranger Regiment.
After a grueling five minute board led by the Regiment’s leadership, Master Sergeant (promotable) Eleck Stone was selected to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment and was promoted to the rank of sergeant major by Albertson.
Eleck and Bryce were awarded the tan beret and the scroll and recited the Ranger Creed surrounded by their fire team. The young Soldiers left a lasting impression on their Ranger brothers.
“This was a really humbling experience for all of us,” said Crum. “We’ve been hanging out with them like they were one of the boys because that’s what Rangers are all about.”
The favorite part of the week for Eleck? “Firing the M9 and M4 and tab checks!”
Eleck made memories that will last a life time but he is not sharing what he learned here.
“I’m not going to tell my friends anything; it’s a secret what we do here at the Ranger Regiment,” said Eleck. “I like my beret and I’m going to take care of it. I am going to put it up high so my brother doesn’t ruin it.
The whole experience was more than just following a schedule for the Rangers.
“It was about us putting our minds to making Eleck’s wish come true. Rangers don’t fail their Ranger buddies,” said Houpis. “Without a shadow of a doubt, Eleck believes with his heart and mind, that he is an Army Ranger.”