Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

July 24, 2014 at 1:42pm

2-75th Ranger Regiment changes hands at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

James B. Bartholomees assumed command of 2-75th Ranger Regiment from Col. Gregory K. Anderson, July 24 at JBLM. Photo credit: Richard Baker

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During a week of hot weather, heavy clouds and a cold snap threatening when Lt. Col. James B. Bartholomees assumed command of 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment from Col. Gregory K. Anderson, July 24 at Watkins Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, he inherited a unit with a long and proud fighting history. The 2nd Ranger Battalion is the second of three elite special operations commando battalions belonging to the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment. Guests huddled together and waited for rain as events of the battalion were related.

World War II brought about a need for special units and, along with the 5th Ranger Battalion, was quickly formed at Camp Forrest, Tenn. Only the best soldiers are chosen for special commando units and the 2nd Ranger Battalion felt like the best of the best when they were trained and sent to Great Britain to prepare for the D-Day invasion. Six Ranger battalions were eventually formed during the war.

Lt. Col. James Rudder attempted to land three companies of the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Pointe du Hoc during the invasion. Nothing goes as planned, especially during war, and several landing craft capsized drowning soldiers and losing supplies. Any chance at surprise was lost when the remaining unit landed an hour late. Undeterred, the remaining 190 men scaled rope ladders and completed their mission by disabling a battery of captured French artillery used by the Germans and pointed at Utah Beach. The cost, however, was high and only 90 soldiers were able to continue the fight and held off German counter-attacks for three days. After being brought to strength, the battalion continued to fight in the Hurtgen Forrest and led the assault on Hill 400 at Bergstein.

>>> Col. Gregory K. Anderson and Col. James B. Bartholomees watch over the 2-75th Ranger Regiment change of command ceremony at Watkins Field, JBLM, July 24. Photo credit: Richard Baker

The 2nd Battalion was reactivated as an elite combat unit at Joint Base lewis-McChord Oct. 1, 1974 and considered "world-wide deployable" by the Chief of Staff of the Army. In 19 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, they have conducted more than 3,500 raids against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. One company is always available for deployment within 18 hours, the remainder within a day.

For Lt. Col. Bartholomees, the change of command is almost like a homecoming. He served with the regiment as a rifle platoon leader, as the battalion logistics officer, and ranger rifle company commander. He was later assigned as the battalion liaison officer followed by executive officer. After moving to regimental headquarters he served as senior liaison officer, operations officer, executive officer, and regimental deputy commander. Many men know and respect him as an honest, intelligent, and fair commander. He returns that respect.

>>> Col. Gregory K. Anderson salutes the 2-75th Ranger Regiment during the change of command ceremony at Watkins Field, JBLM, July 24. Photo credit: Richard Baker

On three occasions, outgoing commander Col. Anderson deployed three times with the unit to Afghanistan. He will continue his military career by attending the U.S. Army War College before commanding the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy.

During the ceremony, the band sparkled, the troops looked smart, and even the rain held back out of respect for one of the finest fighting units in the military. At the completion of the ceremony, the sky broke apart and the sun shone through. No change of command has been better orchestrated.

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News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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