Harmony Church Ranger School – Story

| 0

Sgt Wiebe’s Story

Ranger Training, Harmony Church Chow Hall, Ft. Benning, Georgia prior to 1983 had this mural which covered the entire wall at the chow hall at Ranger School. After each training phase upon returning to garrison a Ranger trainee would eat in this WWII chow hall (given a whole 2 minutes to “swallow that shyte, you can chew it later”) while be shadowed by this mural. After each phase, broken and battered trainees would return to clean up and replenish in body, mind and spirit to ready for the next phase. 

This mural (artist unknown) was a stalwart of the mind/spirit rejuvenation which would give us all proper perspective and focus on why we were there, what we were doing, and the goal of becoming one of the world’s most highly trained combat soldiers. Post 1982 a new Colonel took charge of the school who was strongly religious and decided the mural was too sacreligious because of the words emanating from the lightning bolts out of heaven. The words read in one bolt of lightning, “And the Lord said, Let there be Rangers” as the opposite bolt read, “And the Gates of Hell were Open”. As the new Colonel felt this offensive to his religious beliefs he had this mural covered with wooden paneling for the duration of its life. 

Some of the old timers who worked in the mess hall and some of the crusty cadre may still remember the effect this mural had upon the motivation of the young warriors but as most are aware the rigors of Ranger Training Brigade leave a shortened shelf life for many who worked there when the true warrior spirit was alive and well. After years of hiding and sometime in the 90’s the old WWII barracks and mess hall were torn down to make way for “new and improved” barracks and mess hall when unbeknownst to most this mural was destroyed with the building as it remained hidden from view covered by wood paneling.

Sadly, as many of the weathered soldiers remember the incredible lineage of time and lives that passed through the old WWII barracks across many installations giving trainees an unspoken link to the glories and legends of the past. A few years later after learning of the murals demise I had an cadet artist commissioned to paint a near replica of this art using the photo below. After he completed his work, he left the bolts out and also wished not to put the words emanating from above as he too felt the statement describing the “Hell” unleashed by the worlds most highly trained infantry soldiers. It remains in my home today still in need of an artist who will complete the powerful statement. “And the Lord said, Let there be Rangers”  and  “The Gates of Hell were Opened”.

Having been a summer class of 1982 this picture may be one of the only surviving depictions of this “warrior ethos” which left such powerful impressions upon the generations of Rangers, who have lead the way, all the way.