COLUMBUS, GeorgiaFriday morning was cold, and our family arrived at Hurley Hill in three cars. My wife and I had Kennedy and Reagan with us. Emerson rode with Bob’s girlfriend Johanna. Jim and Jeff had ridden down with Matt, a boyhood friend of Bob and Jim’s. We had more than an hour to wait before the graduation ceremony for Ranger school Class 1-116 began.
Hurley Hill is named in honor of Sergeant-Major Pat Hurley, who was killed during Operation Desert Storm. The hill overlooks Victory Pond, where graduation ceremonies are held for Ranger School, “an intense 61-day combat leadership course oriented toward small-unit tactics”:It has been called the “toughest combat course in the world” and “is the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer.”Graduation ceremonies feature a “Rangers in Action” demonstration — rappeling, helicopters, explosions, hand-to-hand combat — that is very impressive.
The demands of Ranger School are extreme. Our son Bob was among 90 graduates in a class that had begun with 350 men, and the attrition rate of more than 70 percent came this close to stopping Bob. He made it through Camp Darby with flying colors, but had to “recycle” Mountain Phase because of negative “peer reviews.” This news caused much stress and prayer for us, especially for my wife.
Congratulations to SPC Bob McCain on graduating Ranger School and earning the Ranger tab. Best wishes in future assignments.