One of Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most-deployed units is about to head to Afghanistan for its 15th combat mission since 2002. It’s taking a new commander for the first time in two years.
Lt. Col. Gregory Anderson took command of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in a rain-soaked ceremony at Lewis-McChord Thursday. He’s joining the battalion on the heels of a yearlong deployment leading a battalion from the 10th Mountain Division in Kandahar Province.
Anderson’s new battalion is stocked with larger-than-life stories of soldiers who spend about as much time overseas as they do at home. It’s known for producing Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry as well as Spc. Pat Tillman, the former NFL safety who was killed by friendly fire in 2004.
Another Ranger story belongs to Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Domeij, who died in October on his 14th deployment.
In his goodbye address, outgoing battalion commander Lt. Col. David Hodne tipped his hat to Domeij and the two soldiers who died with him – Lt. Ashley White and Pfc. Christopher Horns.
“Their names are synonymous with courage and selflessness,” Hodne said.
The Rangers typically deploy on four- to six-month missions. That’s how they’re able to rack up multiple deployments in a single year. They report to the Army Special Operations Command instead of the main leadership structure at Lewis-McChord.
Hodne’s on his way to a fellowship at Georgetown University. He’ll return to Lewis-McChord down the road as the commander of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. That brigade is training to deploy to Afghanistan this fall under Col. Mike Getchell.
Georgia-based 75th Ranger Regiment commander Col. Mark Odom praised Hodne’s leadership over the past two years in keeping the 2nd Battalion ready to fight in Afghanistan. Odom put his focus on the hundreds of Rangers standing in formation on Lewis-McChord’s Watkins Field.
“If America is looking for victory or a way out of Afghanistan, whether it knows it or not, it is looking to the men before you,” Odom said.