The concept for a National Ranger Memorial, as well as that for a Ranger Hall of Fame, originates from notes made during a discussion between two Ranger NCO’s and a rough diagram of a monument sketched on a paper napkin at Ft Benning, 1991. This humble beginning would give advent to the National Ranger Memorial/Foundation and conceptualize the Ranger Hall of Fame.
January 7th, 1992 witnessed the establishment of the National Ranger Memorial Foundation (NRMF) when it was awarded its charter as a 501(c)3 organization in the State of Georgia. At this time, MG (ret ) Kenneth C Leuer was elected Chairman by a planning committee of the newly organized Foundation. General Leuer’s distinguished service as a Ranger and an Infantryman were, and are, widely recognized and made him the ideal selection as the initial leader. The Planning Committee was augmented by representatives from the seven Ranger Associations and the Commanders of both the 75th Ranger Regiment and the ARTB, then the Ranger Training Brigade. It was estimated, at that time, that $500,000 would be required to construct the monument and to establish a fund to maintain the Ranger Memorial at FT Benning. This goal was achieved through a series of generous donations from the private sector and more importantly and primarily through purchases of memorial stones (pavers) by Rangers themselves, both active duty and retired, and their families and friends.
This innovative approach to funding the initial construction of the Ranger Memorial Monument was not only successful but subsequently became a major source of operating funds for future additions to the Monument and maintenance costs, $30k per annum at this writing. The stone paver process starts with the purchase of a memorial stone, the engraving on the stone, it’s placing on the walkway and plaza of the Monument, and finally listing the individual name and location on a ledger at the entrance of the Ranger Memorial Monument. To understand the volume of this process, 2,500 stones were initially provided and subsequently purchased in 1996. This was soon followed by the purchase of 2,200 additional stones. By 2007, the supply of purchased pavers was exhausted and it was then decided to engrave 5,000 granite stones that were available from the initial construction of the Monument.
Construction on the Monument was completed and the Ranger Memorial Monument dedicated on August 25th, 1994. This majestic Monument to all Rangers became an immediate tourist attraction at Ft Benning. In 1995, it was recognized that a permanent organization would be required to maintain and operate the Ranger Memorial. This would witness the creation of the National Ranger Memorial Foundation (NRMF) and the associated Board of Directors. (From this original group of Directors, Ralph Puckett. Roger Brown and Mike Kelso continue to serve).
The Foundation continued to evolve with the creation of an Executive Secretary position. Additionally, Ralph Puckett would establish a staff position and program to manage donations of more than $500. This initiative was entitled, “Friends of the Rangers”. The “Friends” and the Executive Secretary position continue to serve the Foundation today.
At the turn of the Century two major developments would occur which would witness the expansion of the NRMF. The first was the establishment of an electronic Foundation newsletter. The purpose of this newsletter, entitled, ”The A Net” (ANET), was to inform our Ranger population of items pertaining to all Rangers, their families, and friends. To this end, the Editor and Chief of the ANET were established as a permanent position in the NRMF. More recently, the ANET was designated the “THE RANGER CHECKPOINT” at the suggestion of our USARA Rangers. The editor of “THE RANGER CHECKPOINT” also serves as a recorder for NRMF meetings.
In 2001, the Foundation embarked on an ambitious plan to expand fundraising to the national level by seeking assistance from the Combined Federal Campaign and a successful relationship was established. It was suggested by the CFC that the NRMF develop a scholarship program for eligible Rangers, their families, and their descendants. The financial basis for the establishment of the NRMF Scholarship Fund came from major donations by a local Columbus, Georgia business, and a number of generous contributions from the Ranger Associations. A position of secretary to manage the funds and select subsequent recipients was established in 2005. The procedure for candidates to apply for assistance is outlined on the NRMF webpage. Award of assistance is made by the scholarship committee based on Ranger eligibility, academic qualification of the individual, and the availability of funds in the annual budget. Because of the numbers involved, no group or individuals receive priority. Selection is made on a competitive basis to the Ranger community as a whole.
The National Ranger Memorial Foundation has achieved its goal of perpetual maintenance and availability of the Ranger Monument and continued support of a modest scholarship program. This has been financed through private financial support, primarily from our Ranger community. The NRMF has only two compensated positions, those of the Executive Secretary and the Editor of our Ranger tabloid. All additional support, to include the Board of Directors, contribute to their own time and from their own resources. The Foundation has been rated, “Best in America” by the Independent Charities of America Association for its high standard of performance and quality service, professional management, and low overhead. To all Rangers, your friends, and families, the NRMF will continue to maintain our Ranger Memorial and the Foundation for all Rangers. This said, and as we have throughout our history, we ask for your monetary assistance. Your donations are tax-deductible. Please click on the link on the web page to donate.
The National Ranger Memorial Foundation is honored and ready to support our Ranger community as it applies to our charter. This is our Memorial and our Foundation.
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY.