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This Army Ranger Legend Will Live Forever In His Hometown
This past weekend marked the 71st anniversary of the death of Col. William O. Darby, the original commander of the U.S. Army Rangers.
On Saturday, April 30, Darby’s life was commemorated in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the town where he was born.
The beloved hometown hero was honored with an unveiling of a memorial bronze statue of Darby on a 1942 Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The sculpture was based on a photograph taken by fellow Ranger Phil Stern just after the invasion of North Africa on Nov. 8, 1942. The photograph was later published on the January 1943 cover of Newsweek magazine.
Accompanied by a police escort and a motorcycle brigade of rangers, the Darby statue entered town with grand fanfare. In the crowd was veteran Kenneth Vaught who was overcome with emotion as he recalled escorting Darby’s casket to Fort Smith cemetery 65 years ago from Cisterna.
“[He was] my idol," Vaught told Channel 5 KFSM-TV in Fort Smith. "I was in the military too, but nothing equal to him.”
Watch video of Darby statue being escorted in Fort Smith.
The statue was erected in Cisterna Park on the eastern edge of town. Darby’s arm points in the direction of the European theater. A statue of the first African American U.S. deputy marshal, Bass Reeves, atop a horse defends the western side of town.
Several hundred people were in attendance, including several dozen Rangers, Darby’s nephews Darby and Presson Watkins and niece Sylvia, and one of the few remaining original Darby’s Rangers, 95-year-old Staff Sgt. Wilbur “Punch” Gallop. Students from Darby Junior High recited the Ranger creed, which is part of their school handbook.
“He tells them Darby’s Rangers don’t follow anyone, they lead the way,” organizer Liz Armstrong told Task & Purpose of Principal Darren McKinney. “He leads that school with integrity. He reminds the students that greatness has walked those halls and they can lead the way too.”
Initiated three years ago, The Darby Legacy Project was spearheaded by Armstrong and her husband Joe, a retired U.S. Army Ranger.
The 15-foot tall, 1,300-pound bronze monument was created by sculptor Kevin Kress of Little Rock, Arkansas. Funds for the $165,000 monument were covered by various fundraising efforts including a generous donation from the Steel Horse Rally, a charity motorcycle rally honoring all those who serve. Etched on a plaque beneath the new statue is a quote from Darby: “Onward we stagger and if the tanks come, may God help the tanks."
Darby was born in Fort Smith on Feb. 8, 1911. A 1933 graduate of West Point, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery of the 1st Cavalry, at Fort Bliss, Texas. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Darby deployed to Northern Ireland in January 1942 where he was tasked with organizing and training a new elite unit based on the British commandos. Some of the same rigorous training continues to exist in the Darby Phase of Ranger school at Fort Benning.
Assigned to Italy as assistant division commander of the 10th Mountain division, Darby was one of two officers killed by a burst of German 88mm shells. He was just 34 years old.
“He never forgot his roots in Fort Smith,” said McKinney. “This statue allows us to honor our native son.”
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Verizon committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Verizon is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.
Verizon values leadership, motivation, self-discipline, and hard work — all characteristics that veterans bring to the table. Sometimes, however, veterans struggle with the transition back into the civilian workplace. They may need guidance on interview skills and resume writing, for example.
By participating in the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program and developing internal programs to help veterans find their place, Verizon continues its support of the military community and produces exceptional leaders.
CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State's media network on Monday issued an audio message purporting to come from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi saying operations were taking place daily and urging freedom for women jailed in Iraq and Syria over their alleged links to the group.
"Daily operations are underway on different fronts," he said in the 30-minute tape published by the Al Furqan network, in what would be his first message since April. He cited several regions such as Mali and the Levant but gave no dates.