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JBLM Ranger Battalion names two honorary members

Ken Luce, right

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The 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment of Joint Base Lewis-McChord hosted an outdoor combat awards ceremony at Tacoma's Stadium High School last month, marking one of the first times that the more clandestine organization publically recognized its Soldiers.

Though he was unable to attend the event, it sparked an idea in the head of retired Maj. Gen. John Hemphill, who graduated from Ranger School himself in 1956.

"I wanted the Rangers to get even more public credit where it was due," explained Hemphill, 82. "It was a long time ago when I got that tab, but I know what it means."

Hemphill, who serves as the VP for Awards and Committee Chairman for the Captain Meriwether Lewis chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), thought that the battalion deserved a subchapter to support them. So he worked with chapter president Carlene Joseph to get the ball rolling and recruited AUSA alum Ken Luce to take the subchapter on as president. 

The subchapter, which has been operational for 11 months, includes the towns of Fife, Milton and Edgewood, and has been working closely with the Rangers to develop an official community connector relationship.

"I was never in the military - I was in the Navy," joked Luce, 73, who spent six years in the Navy and now runs his own local law firm, Luce & Associates. "So far we've gotten excellent sponsorship from the cities and the Rangers have really given back to the communities."

As a result, earlier this month, the two men were made honorary members of the battalion in recognition of their continued, not to mention successful, support of the Rangers and presented with plaques by Lt. Col. Dave Hodne, 2nd Battalion commander.

The summary on each plaque praised both Hemphill's and Luce's mentorship of the battalion and the Pointe Du Hoc leadership chain concerning strategic communications, memorial construction and organizational leadership.

"This was really something for me. I really have a personal connection with the Rangers," said Hemphill, who spent 34 distinguished years in the Army. "Aside from my own history, four out of my five grandsons are in the Rangers or serving with the Rangers now ... and my son-in-law is commanding a Ranger battalion."

"It came as a surprise to me - I didn't think I had done anything!" said Luce. "What I've done has been fun. I don't look at as work or a hardship. To hear the valor of these kids...they are so young. It is incredible what they are doing for this country. This is the least I can do."

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