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We are grateful to the 75th Ranger Association for the following information.
Throughout history the need for a small, highly trained, far ranging unit to perform reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and special type combat missions has been readily apparent. In Vietnam this need was met by instituting a Long Range Patrol program to provide each major combat unit with this special capability.
Rather than create an entirely new unit designation for such an elite force, the Department of the Army looked to its rich and varied heritage and on 1 February 1969 designated the 75th Infantry Regiment, the present successor to the famous 5307th Composite Unit (MERRILLS MARAUDERS) as the parent organization for all Department of the Army designated Long Range Patrol (LRP) units and the parenthetical designation (RANGER) in lieu of (LRP) for these units. As a result, the 50th Infantry Detachment (LRP), formally the 9th Infantry Division LRRP (Provisional) assigned to the 9th Infantry Division, became Company E (Ranger), 75th Infantry.
In the fall of 1966, the 9th Infantry Division formed a division Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Platoon after division commander, Maj. Gen. George S. Eckhardt flew to Vietnam on an orientation tour of the combat theater. Major General Eckhardt noted that each division contained a long-range patrol unit. He arrived back at Fort Riley, Kansas, where the Division was completing preparations for its scheduled December deployment to Vietnam, and ordered the immediate organization of a reconnaissance platoon for his own division. Capt. James Tedrick, Lt. Winslow Stetson, and Lt. Edwin Garrison were chosen as the officers for the LRRP Platoon. They interviewed and screened the records of 130 volunteer soldiers and selected the best 40. The provisional unit was known as the "War Eagle Platoon". In November of 1966, the LRRP Platoon completed the Jungle Warfare School in Panama. Captain Tedrick conducted an extra week of tropical training following the regular two-week course. Platoon members were shipped to Vietnam in January 1967.
At the Special Forces MACV Recondo School at Nha Trang, the entire 9th Infantry Division LRRPS became recondo-qualified, Meanwhile, the unit adjusted to its combat operating area. The division operated primarily in the lowlands south of Saigon, the Rung Sat Special Zone, and the Mekong Delta. Torrential rains and year-round water exposed patrollers to high rates of disabling skin disease. Reconnaissance troops often suffered extensive inflammatory lesions and rampant skin infections. And by the fourth month of tropical service, nearly three-fourths of all infantryman had recognizable infections. The Bear Cat - Long Thanh area east of Saigon was where the division was initially concentrated. The new base, Dong Tam, was constructed by dredging the My Tho river to produce enough fill to build a major installation in the Mekong Delta. It was located five miles west of My Tho in Dinh Tuong Province.
On 8 July 1967, the 9th Long Range Patrol Detachment (LRPD) was formalized. Borrowing General Marshall's World War II phrase, the Division LRPD was "well brought up." During June and July, the LRPD completed forty-three patrols and clashed eighteen times with enemy forces. Through August and September, the LRPD continued to fill. By October it had reached full authorized strength of 119 personnel and was rated fully operational. Each platoon contained a command section and eight, six-man teams.
Some teams of the division LRPD rendered reconnaissance for 2nd Brigade in Operation CORONADO and entered the Viet Cong Cam Son secret base area while other teams supported the 1st Brigade in Operation AKRON and uncovered a massive underground system of enemy tunnels and bunkers. The LRPD also conducted important military intelligence tasks for the Mobile Riverine Force within the Mekong Delta.
Major General George C. O'Connor activated Company E (Long Range Patrol), 50th Infantry, to give the 9th Infantry Division specialized ground reconnaissance support on 20 December 1967. The long-range patrol company absorbed the LRPD and was designated as "Reliable Reconnaissance" after the division nickname of "Old Reliable's."
During January 1968, the Navy SEAL teams began joint operations with Reliable Reconnaissance. LRP's did this to gain training and experience in the Delta environment The missions designated as SEAL-ECHO were the highly selective patrols. They were inserted by Navy patrol boats, plastic assault boats, helicopters, and Boston whalers. The SEAL-ECHO troops used supporting artillery and airstrikes to destroy larger targets.
Maj. Gen. Julian J. Ewell assumed command of the 9th Infantry Division in February 1968. He authorized the Reliable Reconnaissance company to acquire a similar capacity to the 3rd Brigade Combined reconnaissance and Intelligence Platoon as a result of the Tet-68 battles. Company E received permission to employ available Provincial Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) personnel from the Central Intelligence Agency's Project Phoenix program. The PRU troops were hardened anticommunist troops dedicated to destroying the Viet Cong infrastructure. The PRU troops generally possessed very high esprit and great knowledge of Viet Cong operating methods. From November 1968 through January 1969, the last three months of Company E's existence, the Reliable Reconnaissance teams conducted 217 patrols, and engaged the enemy in 102 separate actions. The company was credited with capturing eleven prisoners and killing eighty-four Viet Cong by direct fire.
Company E (LRP), 50th Infantry
20 December 1967 to 1 February 1969 (as Co. E (LRP), 50th Infantry)
1 February 1969 to 23 Aug 1969 (as Co. E, 75th Infantry (Ranger)) (First tour)
1 Oct 1969 to 12 Oct 1970 (as Co. E, 75th Infantry (Ranger)) (Second tour)
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We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the file unit LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrols), 1969 and series General Orders of the 9th Infantry Division, 1/1/1967-9/22/1969 in the Records of US Forces in Southeast Asia, 1950-1967 (Record Group 472). For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at email@example.com.
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