The 2nd Ranger Infantry Company has roots and lineage with the 555th (Triple Nickel) Parachute Infantry Battalion, the 80th Airborne Anti-Aircraft (AAA) Battalion, 3/505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, and the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (ARCT).
- The 2nd Ranger Infantry Company was the first, last, and only, all black Ranger Company in the US Army.
- These men were the first black paratroopers allowed to attend and complete Ranger Training.
- They were the first black paratroopers to jump into combat and fight as a unit.
- One of these men would go on to become the first black Navy SEAL.
- These men and their accomplishments are the stuff of legends.
Combat Jumpers: On 23 March 1951, the 2nd Ranger Company and 187th ARCT were dropped near Munsan-ni, 24 miles (39 km) northwest of Seoul, with the mission to hold an airhead, interdict and assault the Chinese and North Koreans in the objective area. They would later plan on a linkup with the 6th Medium Tank Battalion 18 hours after the drop. A combined task force (2nd Rangers and 187th ARCT) of 3,500 men left Taegu in 150 transports, flew over the Yellow Sea and the North Korean coast enroute to their drop. The 2nd Ranger Company dropped at 915 am local time and was able to surprise and capture several positions of the North Korean 19th Division. Generals Matt Ridgway (Theater Commander replacing Mac Arthur), Maxwell Taylor, McAuliffe, and Colonel Bill Moorman, were all in leadership positions in the Korean theater of war and well aware of the jump and its significance regarding black soldiers jumping into combat and proving their mettle. General Ridgway was on the drop zone when 2d Rangers hit the ground! I am sure he was proud to be around paratroopers again. Especially the veteran paratroopers from his beloved 555th and 3/505.
The 2nd Rangers faced another large combat challenge in May 1951. With a large part of the company on R&R in Japan, LT James (Big Jim) Queen, with 80 Rangers, conducted a recon and found Chinese troops attempting to occupy Hill 581. Out-numbered, the Rangers rushed from Hill 258 and assaulted Hill 581. The Rangers surprised and attacked the Chinese force, killing 50 enemy soldiers and wounding 90. Just before midnight, 2 Battalions of Chinese Soldiers counter-attacked the Rangers. The Rangers repulsed 4 attacks until finally running out of grenades and critically low on ammunition at around 2 am. At 3 am (zero dark thirty!), the Chinese attacked again, pushing the Rangers off the hilltop. LT Queen ordered a counter-attack and as his men re-gained the hilltop, he ordered artillery on his position, danger close. This broke the Chinese’s hold on the hill, and they withdrew. During the final attack Chinese forces suffered over 120 killed and several hundred wounded.
Legacy: During it’s time in Korea the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company was awarded four campaign streamers for its service. Rangers of the company also received numerous individual decorations. Nine Rangers received Silver Star Medals and 11 received Bronze Star Medals. A total of 103 Purple Heart Medals were awarded to 84 members of the company, with 11 Rangers receiving two Purple Hearts and four Rangers receiving three. Later In 1955, the unit was reflagged as A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and that unit carries on the 2nd Ranger Company’s lineage.
Changing Culture: At the start of the Korean War the Army was just starting desegregation and not doing a great job of it. You may not know this but on Fort Bragg after World War II the 3/505 and the 80th AAA Battalion, and other all black units, were billeted on the other side of post near modern day Spring Lake! That sounds really odd, but it is true. A leftover from WWII, white officers, General Officers, “did not believe black soldiers would fight unless they were commanded by white officers”. One of the General Officers (Almond)in the 2nd Rangers chain of command actually said this to the CO and other leaders in a face to face meeting! This General and numerous others were proven wrong on the field of battle in Korea. Can you imagine what would have happened if Eisenhower, Bradley, Ridgway, Gavin had let the 555th participate in D-Day or Market Garden? The desegregation directives could have changed sooner for some of these men and all those warriors coming after! In regard to the Korean War; I won’t go so far as to give General Ridgway full credit, but I am confident he had a big say in the decision-making process that enabled the 2nd Ranger Company to jump into and fight the Chinese and North Koreans.
The author, a 2nd Ranger Company veteran, Retired Master Sergeant (Retired) Edward Pousey, provides us a great history lesson. This book has it all; Drama and bravery in the face of bigotry, drinking, fighting, combat patrols, fire fights, and dedication to selfless service in the face of the worst kind of adversity possible, “not being accepting by your airborne brothers as equals on the field of combat.” This story is an eye opener that should be required reading for all modern-day soldiers and historians.
Ed Pousey would go on to serve at Pork Chop Hill, Operation Power Pack (Dominican Republic) and Vietnam. The 2nd Rangers proved all the naysayers wrong and reshaped the narrative and dignity conversation regarding the black soldier’s capabilities in combat. This book is available on Amazon.com (US) and Amazon.co.uk (UK).