Memorial Day: Ranger Heroes Remembered
by Marty Skovlund Jr.
Memorial Day is a weekend that comes with a lot of mixed emotion. For those of us who served in the military and the families who stayed behind and patiently waited for a safe return- it is a weekend we remember those that did NOT return. They made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember their memory, and the great men and women that they were. We think of the Gold Star families, and the tremendous sacrifice they endured. Of course we are just as happy as the next guy to have a long weekend off from work, to have family and friends over to throw some food on the grill, and of course to enjoy a beer or twelve. This is where the mixed emotion comes in: sadness that your friend, your brother, your husband…is no longer with us, able to share in new memories; yet taking joy that we were blessed with the presence of such great men. As a famous quote says, we should be happy that such men lived.
With that being said, we wanted to share a few stories about the personal side of some of these warriors. The stuff you don’t get from a press release, or an article in the paper. These great men and women are more than just a list of citations and awards, and we wanted to convey that. Please take a moment to read through the stories below, and to share with your friends. Most importantly, share this with the people who don’t know a service member, who are unfamiliar with the great folks who raise their right hand in defense of this amazing country. This goes hand in hand with the Bridging the Gap mission, we need to re-introduce America to her warriors!
Tyler Holtz, B Co. 2/75. I remember when he first got to our unit, we played platoon football. I was on the line, face to face with him. I weighed about 175 lbs and he was around 240. I remember digging my feet into the ground but being pushed back almost as if I had been standing on ice. He had “brotherhood” tattooed on his arm in German. He didn’t care who was well liked or unpopular, he was friendly to everyone, even though he could have smashed almost anyone into the ground. I remember sharing music with him that I just recorded and him telling me about his brother and the band he played with.
Holtz was an exemplary Ranger and I am better for having known him.
When I was in pre-Ranger with Anibal Santiago, we made a patrol base one night on a huge slope. It started pissing rain and we were getting absolutely deluged and freezing our balls off. Me and him were sharing a hooch and all our gear was totally soaked, so to stay warm we both stripped down to ranger panties and got into the same bivvy sack. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life, sharing a sleeping back with another man, but it was so damn cold I didn’t care. He just kept laughing about it while shivering and making “big-spoon/little spoon” jokes. What a weird, almost hypothermic night. We got through it, though, and graduated together.
Jason Santora, Dco 3/75. During a squad shoot house it was extremely cold. All everyone wanted to do was chill by a fire we had somehow convinced leadership to let us have. The only problem was that we had to build demo for all the iterations to come through. Santora took me and we started building our demo…. then we continued building it for everyone else too. By the end he was shaking uncontrollably because it was so cold. He had forced me to stop when I started shaking, looking out for his men and setting the example for them to follow. When he was finished he didn’t expect a thank you or recognition from anyone. He just went and sat quietly by the fire. He was a quiet professional and the epitome of what a leader should be.
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