Urgent Fury a small battle in Grenada October 25th, 1983
Day is a special day for me. For me it is a day with both positive and
negative reflections. It takes me back to 1983 during the first year that I
served in the 1st Ranger Battalion. It had been six months since I
had passed through the gauntlet of Advanced Infantry School, Airborne School and
the Ranger Indoctrination Program. I finally felt that I would have a break once
that I arrived at the 1st Ranger Battalion. I didn’t realize that I
had just started the most rigorous experience of my life. Now I had to prove
that I was able to meet the standards of being a Ranger. I was the new Ranger,
so I got all the grunt work, the extra duty.
training was hard and demanding. I didn’t realize that a person could survive
for weeks at a time with only one dehydrated meal a day, three hours sleep a
night and exhausting physical challenge daily.
came the call from the higher powers that be, that our company had been selected
to participate in a mission called “Urgent Fury”. This mission was to rescue
American medical students who were being held against their will by Cuban
soldiers on the Island of Grenada.
of training were crammed into days, preparing us for the mission. Our company
was chosen to clear the airstrip, one of the only functional landing strips for
the landing of our aircraft (C-130’s). This meant we were to parachute onto
the airstrip and fight any enemy that held it. Secure the airstrip enough for
the C-130’s to land, then pull our gun jeeps and motorcycles off, drive out to
extend the perimeter around the airstrip and secure the whole area.
mission was a Rangers dream come true. It offered plenty of action, a chance to
test our battle skills, and the opportunity to serve our country with our
abilities and possibly our lives. Being only 19 years old, I thought what an
honorable way to serve our country.
mission was set in motion at high speed. After reviewing the Operation Order we finished rigging our jeeps with enough machine
guns and ammo to fight a small war. We were getting ready to receive our airborne pre-jump training and then we would begin
loading the jeeps and motorcycles onto the C-130’s. We were moving quick and were getting ready to go.
I remember we were told to take 15 minutes and write letters to
our families, just in case we didn’t come home from the mission. I remember
going up to my room for those brief 15 minutes. I tried to summarize a last
farewell to my family in a letter. I remember my roommate Russell Robinson
saying that he thought that he wasn’t going to make it home.
then, my past and future flashed before me. What he said shocked me. For the
first time in my life, I seriously thought about death. I thought what if I got
killed down there. What would my family think? Was rescuing these American
medical students a worthwhile cause to die for? Were their lives more important
than mine? If I did die, how would I be remembered, or would I be forgotten.
is surprising how much you can think about in 15 minutes. I tried to reassure
Russell that we were both going to come back. I remember him saying that he
hoped he would go to heaven if he died. As a Christian I felt confident that I
was going to heaven, unfortunately we had no more time to talk.
fifteen minutes were up; we finished our letters then taped them to the inside
of our lockers. We then went back to the airstrip and continued loading the
the midst of getting ready to load the C-130’s I was told to report to my
platoon sergeant (Sgt. Thomas). I promptly reported to him. He said I was being
pulled off the first flight and put on the second flight. I at first stood there
dumbfounded, then I insisted that I be allowed to continue with my jeep team. I
rattled off all the reasons, like I helped rig the jeep with the
guns and ammo, and that I had trained with the team as the assistant gunner,
etc. He said it didn’t matter, he said there were reasons, one of which was that
I was a new Ranger to our Platoon, so I was to be bumped off the jeep and replaced by
Sgt. Cline. Then I brought up the fact that Sgt. Cline’s wife was due to have
their first baby so he wasn’t supposed to be near the action. Sgt. Thomas looked into my eyes and said, this is the way it will be. He gave me authorization to talk
with my Platoon Leader and the Company Commander, which I promptly did.
Unfortunately, that was the end of the road for me on that mission "Urgent Fury"; I was just a lowly private.
dejectedly watched as my platoon and jeep team loaded onto the aircraft. My
roommate Russell Robinson told me to quit complaining, he said just be ready to
go on the next flight out.
was the last time I saw Russell and Sgt. Cline (the man who took my place on the
jeep team) as well as my team leader Sgt. Rademacher.
waited patiently hoping for the second flight to leave, but it never did. After
our company got to the island, they with the Marines, Seals, and 82nd
Airborne, rescued the American medical students and secured the island.
was told there were a few casualties. A few Americans got killed and a whole bunch of
Cubans were killed and wounded. I thought, great, one of the only battles since
Viet Nam, and I had to miss it. I was depressed.
company came back after a week to a hero’s welcome. Savanna Georgia, where our
fort was located near, hung out every American flag available. Billboards were
repainted, with “Welcome home Rangers”. The best welcome a soldier could ask
our platoon finally came back into the barracks, I was told we had some
casualties. I was told that the jeep that I was assigned to was ambushed by a
patrol of many Cubans. There was only one survivor, who was badly wounded
with several holes in him.
heart sank. They said that the jeep was hit with an RPG (Soviet anti-tank
rocket). My roommate Russell was killed instantly. The remaining three Rangers
were thrown from the jeep. Under heavy fire from the Cubans, my team leader
though wounded had to climb back onto the road to dismount a machine gun and get
some more ammo. Sgt. Cline was wounded. My team leader told the remaining team
member PFC Romick to return to the airstrip and get help, while he and Sgt.
Cline held off the Cubans.
Romick fortunately made it back to the airstrip headquarters, though badly
wounded and delirious. He was all bloody; shot in several places and was carrying a
Soviet AK-47 rifle.
the time reinforcements arrived my team leader was dead along with Sgt. Cline.
There were many dead Cubans scattered within the vicinity.
has been many years since “Urgent Fury” and every day I thank God
for giving me the opportunity to enjoy life. I don’t have a fear of death
because I’m confident where I will go, but I have a deep appreciation for
think of Sgt. Cline’s daughter, who never saw or was held by her father. I
think of Sgt. Rademacher who valiantly fought to the bitter end. I think of PFC
Romick, the anguish he must have felt for leaving the team to get help, anguish he must have felt for the rest of his life. He didn’t recall how he got the Soviet
rifle and didn’t even remember how and when he got shot.
think of my last conversation with Russell my roommate. How he somehow was
convinced that he would not return, but still thought it was the highest honor
to die for our country. Never wavering in his determination to continue on the
was just one small little battle compared to all the other big wars that
Americans have fought in, with thousands of Americans having died, they all
having families. Many of them like Russell would have had children. But their
lives stopped abruptly, most having only experienced a mere 19 or 20 years of
life. The thought of sacrificing your own life for the life of another is
definitely the ultimate sacrifice.
don’t want these American’s to be forgotten. I’m thankful that we have
Memorial Day set aside to remember them. It is not just a day off from work; it
is a day to remember. It is a day to remember those who have paid the ultimate
sacrifice for our freedom.
it wasn’t for a decision by whomever to pull me off that jeep and be replaced by Sgt. Cline, he
wouldn’t have died, and I wouldn’t have married my beautiful wife, and she
wouldn’t have born our beautiful five children. My life would have ended on
the Island of Grenada in a small battle called "Urgent Fury" at an age of nineteen on October 25th, 1983.
RAND MILLER, Rand@RandMiller.com
“The men who have died here have struck a blow for freedom. They have shown the rest of the world that men of the United States will go wherever necessary (and) do what they must to protect and preserve the land we call home. They fought bravely until the bitter end. May God take them into heaven and may the perpetual light shine on them.”
by Russell Robinson, eighth grade
Notes: The five Rangers from my 1/75th Ranger A Company who died in
Grenada, during the battle of Urgent Fury are photographed above. Their order
from top to bottom of page is PFC Russell Robinson, Sgt. Randy Cline, Sgt. Mark
Rademacher, PFC Marlin Maynard, and SP4 Mark Yamane. I have included a copy of
the funeral taken from the LaCrosse Tribune my home town news paper that shows
the casket procession for Russell Robinson. This casual civilian picture of PFC
Marlin Maynard is the only one I have of Marlin.
Notes: The five Rangers from my 1/75th Ranger A Company who died in Grenada, during the battle of Urgent Fury are photographed above. Their order from top to bottom of page is PFC Russell Robinson, Sgt. Randy Cline, Sgt. Mark Rademacher, PFC Marlin Maynard, and SP4 Mark Yamane. I have included a copy of the funeral taken from the LaCrosse Tribune my home town news paper that shows the casket procession for Russell Robinson. This casual civilian picture of PFC Marlin Maynard is the only one I have of Marlin.
If you would like to share your comments with me regarding Urgent Fury or anything related to Rangers, email me at Rand@RandMiller.com. If you have a Ranger related website and would like to have your link mentioned on my Ranger links page, please email me your website URL and I would be happy to include a link to your Ranger website. Also if you have a testimony of similar nature as mentioned above that you would like to share with me, I would appreciate reading it.
Please link this page to your webpage, and forward this testimony to your friends. Let's remember these men who have valiantly served our country. Rangers Lead the Way!