A year ago today, in the early hours of March 4, 2013, my dad died at home, at peace, with his life-long sweetheart, my mom Bernadeane at his side. He was a strong, funny, intimidatingly intelligent, self-deprecating, demanding, critical, and profoundly loving man. For my brother, Robert and me, Dad was more than an influence; he was a primal force. We studied, imitated, and rebelled against him, knowing that as certain as sunrise he would always be there to keep us grounded, honest, and safe. That he was in fact mortal, has come as a shock we have had trouble accepting.
He was also a prominent physiologist, and a WWII Army Ranger medic who climbed the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on D-Day. His service in that war he looked back on with horror, humility, and pride. He spoke to that and more in the last address he gave as President of the World War II Rangers Battalions Association, which I’ve reprinted here.
RANGER MEMORIAL ADDRESS
by Frank E. South, President WWII RBA
Fort Benning, Georgia October, 2009
We are Army Rangers. Our war was World War II.
Like it does in all warriors, war stays alive within us.
You would think it would be the sharp crack of rifle fire and the cutting clatter of machine guns echoing down through time. Or the ground-shuddering thud of shells marching patiently forward, finding their range. Or the fast-closing whine of aircraft dropping from the sky.
All of that was there.
But it is the voices of our fellow Rangers, alive or dead, that live on in us through the years. For in truth, like all warriors, we fought for each other. We fought to keep each other alive.
And now, standing at this memorial, I realize that we have fulfilled that duty. And we will continue to do so. We can do no less.
We are Army Rangers.
Rangers Lead The Way.
Dad was buried last spring at at Arlington National Cemetery, with, family, friends, past and present-day Rangers and honor guard in attendance.