Ceremony marks inclusion of 16 in Hall of Fame
Wed, Jul. 10, 2002
BY S. THORNE HARPER
Ledger-Enquirer Staff Writer
James D. Rogers survived a fusillade of bullets in providing covering fire as other U.S. Army Rangers removed their wounded from a Vietnam battlefield.
On Tuesday, stricken with multiple sclerosis and seated in a wheelchair, Rogers gazed out into an audience of Rangers, vowed to survive what he called "the dread disease," and thanked them for his induction into the Ranger Hall of Fame.
"A month ago I wouldn't have been here," Rogers said. "The reason I'm here today is because of Ranger strength and training. I've got a message for MS: You think you've got me, well I've got you. Look at my support group here. You're going to lose."
Rogers and 15 others joined the ranks of Ranger lore during the 10th Annual Ranger Hall of Fame ceremony at Fort Benning.
Ranger history plays a major role in Ranger doctrine. It dates back to Colonial days, when small bands of American frontiersmen learned to wreak havoc on larger forces. From Rogers' Rangers in the French and Indian Wars and Merrill's Marauders in World II, to more contemporary exploits in Desert Storm and Afghanistan, every Ranger knows his place in history.
James E. Hopkins left his plush job as surgeon in Baltimore during World War II to join Merrill's Marauders in some of the bloodiest battles of the Burma campaign. As his unit's doctor, he saw battles ranging up the three months in duration. Accepting his place in the Hall of Fame, he noted that one of his relatives fought with Confederate Ranger John S. Mosby.
"I'm very proud of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I'm very proud of the men who made up Merrill's Marauders."
Charles E. Getz, another Vietnam-era Ranger, was armed only with a bayonet when he led commando raids on underwater caves occupied by enemy forces. He ended up capturing 17 enemy troops and their weapons.
"I guess there's a defining point in everybody's life," Getz said in his acceptance speech. "The thing that changed me was the opportunity to go to Ranger School."
Getz, who went on to become a CIA staff officer, recalled the Frank Sinatra song, "My Way," and said he wants to remembered as living his life "the Ranger Way."
"I hope it can be said that Charlie Getz did it the Ranger Way," he said.
Dennis L. Thompson spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, three of them in solitary confinement for refusing to to make anti-American statements. His voice wavered with emotion as he accepted his medal.
"If I'm going to be remembered for anything," he said, "let it be for respecting my fellow soldiers and country, and for doing what was expected of me."
Others inducted Tuesday included Autrail Cobb, James H. Collier, Lester E. Kness, Charles R. Laws Jr., Harris L. Parker, Edward L. Posey, Kenneth W. Stauss, Victor D. Valeriano and Richard D. Wandke. Three Rangers -- Robert L. Carr, Glenn H. English Jr. and Edward W. Pucel -- were inducted posthumously.
Contact S. Thorne Harper at (706) 571-8516
Copyright 2002, Ledger-Enquirer