United States Army Rangers are some of the toughest of the tough, a military unit with a long history of accomplishing missions thought impossible. It was Rangers who scaled the cliffs of Point du Hoc to take out artillery, and it was Rangers who fought in the mountains of Afghanistan trying to catch Osama Bin Laden.
Rangers fight hard, and they train hard. Sometimes, that training results in injuries, or even deaths. And so it is that today, word reaches the American people of a Ranger who died in training.
Specialist Devin James Kuhn of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, died on January 31, 2018. He died of wounds he sustained during training exercises at Camp Rilea, Oregon. Sadly, no answers have been given to his family about the circumstances surrounding his untimely death.
At a time when there are people in political positions and in schools talking about how those in the military are the dregs or idiots of our society, it is good to reflect on such people as Specialist Devin James Kuhn.
He went through his One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning in Georgia, then went on to graduate from Airborne School, Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1 (RASP), and, of course, the Army Ranger Course itself.
Specialist Kuhn deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, where he participated in a number of special operations raids in order to take down terrorists, their networks, and their suppliers.
In Afghanistan, he earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, a coveted badge among infantry soldiers which represents that he took part in combat operations.
He also earned the coveted Expert Infantryman’s Badge, which requires immense effort to achieve.
To earn the EIB, a soldier with a primary MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) of either 11 (Infantry) or 18 (Special Forces) must meet many requirements.
They must score at least 80 percent in each Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) event.
They must complete land navigation courses in both day and night conditions.
They must qualify as ‘expert’ with their issued weapon.
They must complete a 12-mile-long foot march carrying a weapon and a combat load of at least 35 pounds but no more than 70 pounds in three hours or less.
Finally, they must complete a number of stations graded on a pass/fail basis. These stations number between 30 to 35, and cover first aid, night vision devices, weapons proficiency and more.
Failure of any station results in a failure for the whole course, though stations can be attempted a second time. There are up to three re-try events for all the stations, however.
In other words, Specialist Kuhn was not just a Ranger; he was an accomplished Infantryman.
While in the United States, Specialist Kuhn participated in training events, including mountain warfare exercises and live fire exercises to name just a few.
Colonel Ken Burgess, his Battalion Commander, said that Specialist Kuhn “loved God, his wife, his family, and he loved being a Ranger. He was taken from us too early in a tragic accident, but we endeavor to honor his life and service to this nation.”
The United States Army Ranger motto is ‘Sua Sponte,’ a Latin phrase that translates roughly into ‘of their own accord.’
The motto heralds the fact that the Rangers are a self-motivated military fighting force that can operate of their own accord.
It also stands as a testament that men who earn the right to wear the Ranger Tab volunteered thrice to take that lofty position.
First, they volunteered to join the United States Army, an all-volunteer military force.
Secondly, they volunteered to attended Airborne School, where they are taught to jump from vehicles equipped with a static line.
Thirdly, they volunteered for, and completed, Ranger School, one of the most brutal training programs that the United States military has to offer, one that puts volunteers through three phases: Darby phase, Mountain phase, and Florida phase.
Specialist Kuhn represented the best that the United States Army had to offer the world, and in less than three years managed to show himself to be not only an expert infantryman but to be worthy of a title some spend their whole lives trying to earn.
Though the precise nature of his injuries has not been released to the public, it is obvious that the world, and the United States Army, is a little bit worse off today for having lost such a fantastic soldier.
He took great risks for the American people, and he did it, quite simply, of his own accord. And for that, we should celebrate Specialist Kuhn, and those like him, and what they do for our country every day.