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Mon, 10.09.1950

The 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) is Formed

The 2nd Ranger Infantry Company

*On this date in 1950, the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) was formed. This unit was a Ranger light infantry company of the United States Army active during the Korean War.

As a small special operations unit, it specialized in irregular warfare. A segregated unit, all its personnel, including its officers, were black.   The U.S. Army, which until that point did not allow black soldiers to serve in special forces units, authorized blacks to apply to become Rangers. However, despite Executive Order 9981 desegregating the U.S. military in 1948, the Army opted to pool all black applicants into one Company.

By 1950, most units were still de facto segregated. In the 82nd Airborne Division, Ranger applicants came from the all-black units, including the 3rd Battalion, 505th Airborne Infantry, the 758th Tank Battalion, and the 80th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion. Many applicants were World War II veterans who had seen combat, and many others had served with the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. Of a pool of 5,000 applicants, on October 2, the Ranger Training School selected 22 officers and 314 enlisted men for the first three Ranger companies, which were entirely white. A fourth all-black Company was organized several days later.

The 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) was organized assuming the lineage of A Company of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. It had an initial strength of 135 enlisted men. Originally it had been designated the 4th Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne), but the two companies switched designations to prevent racial discrimination accusations. The unit was activated on October 25, 1950, at Fort Benning. Started and trained as a successor organization to the 2nd Ranger Battalion from World War II, the 2nd Ranger Company was formed and trained extensively in airborne warfare. Deployed to South Korea in December 1950, the Company quickly adopted the "Buffalo Rangers" motto and worked extensively with the U.S. 7th Infantry Division scouting force.

The Company undertook several significant operations against the Chinese People's Volunteer Army, including Operation Tomahawk in early 1951. Racial politics often resulted in the Company receiving untrained replacements, performing well in many small-scale engagements. In the summer of 1951, the Company was employed along the front line as an advance force to push back Chinese attacks as the front lines became more static. The Company was highly regarded for capturing and holding Hill 581 during the Battle of the Soyang River. The Company inflicted hundreds of casualties on the Chinese without a single Ranger being killed.

Disbanded in August 1951 along with all the other Ranger companies, the unit's soldiers accrued several awards in its 10-month existence. These included four campaign streamers, nine Silver Star Medals, and over 100 Purple Heart Medals. Subsequent research has focused on the force of how the Rangers were employed and how their performance was impacted by the racist policies of their time.

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