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Ralph E. Goranson
Rank: Captain
Ralph E. Goranson



C Company 2nd Ranger

Omaha Beach, Normandy, France

May 7th, 1945

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An unforgettable procession

Ranger Captain Ralph E. Goranson, of Libertyville, Illinois, with the special mission at Pointe de la Percée, led the BB men of “Charlie” company across the sand, subjected to deadly accurate enemy fire. Only 29 of his Rangers made it. Thirty-nine were dead or about to die in the suri and on the beach. “Here’s one for Ripley”, Captain Coranson said to one of the Ranger officers some time later, “I found nine slugs and bullet holes in my gear and clothing - didn’t get a scratch ; yet an many around us have died”. British destroyers eventually took care of the enemy installations at the Pointe de la Percée, hut in spite of the severe losses the remaining handful of Goranson’s Rangers went on to destroy a well defended enemy fortification inflicting many casualties.

Captain Goranson decided to go left toward the fortified house and knock out any enemy positions there which would cause trouble on Dog Beach; then, to proceed on his mission toward Pointe de la Percee. When the house was reached, the Rangers found that just beyond it lay a German strongpoint consisting of a maze of dugouts and trenches, including machine-gun emplacements and a mortar position.

Captain Goranson put men in an abandoned trench just west of the house and started to feel out the enemy positions on the other side. This began a series of small attacks which continued for hours without any decisive result. The boat section of Company B, 116th RCT, came up early and joined in, but even with this reinforcement Captain Goranson s party was too small to knock out the enemy position. Three of four times, attacking parties got around the house and into the German positions, destroying the mortar post and inflicting heavy losses.

Enemy reinforcements kept coming up along communication trenches from the Vierville draw, and the Ranger parties were not quite able to clean out the system of trenches and dugouts. Finally, toward the end of the afternoon, the Rangers and the Company B section succeeded in occupying the strongpoint and ending resistance. They had suffered only 2 casualties; a Quartermaster burial party later reported 69 enemy dead in the position. This action had tied up one of the main German firing positions protecting the Vierville draw "

Ralph E. Goranson was actually portrayed by Mr. Tom Hanks playing the captain of the 2nd Rangers Battalion in the movie Saving Private Ryan.

With thanks to his daughter Miss Carol Mount for the story.

2nd Ranger Battalion

On 1 April 1943 the 2nd Ranger Battalion was formed at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, along with the 5th Ranger Battalion. Both battalions were officially activated in September 1943 and shipped to Great Britain where they were prepared for Operation Overlord as part of six Ranger battalions of the Second World War.

On 6 June 1944, Dog, Easy, and Fox Companies, commanded by Lt. Colonel James Rudder, landed at Pointe du Hoc from LCA landing craft and specially modified DUKW "Ducks" operated by the Royal Navy. The 225 Rangers had set off from Britain to launch an assault upon the cliffs overlooking the English Channel. In order to augment the strength of the 2nd Battalion, members of what was formerly the 29th Rangers were assigned as well.

Several landing craft containing Rangers and supplies capsized in the stormy waters and many Rangers drowned due to heavy equipment, but others were saved and hoisted into other DUKWs to participate in the attack. The Rangers had planned to land at the base of the cliffs at 0600 hours, however, because of a navigational error, they landed nearly an hour late. This cost the lives of more Rangers as well as the element of surprise. During the attack, the 190 remaining Rangers scaled the cliffs utilizing rope ladders, but only 90 Rangers were still able to bear arms after two days of relentless fighting. During the assault, 2nd Battalion managed to disable a battery of 155mm French artillery captured by the Germans, which was their primary objective. These guns were to be aimed at Utah Beach, however, the Rangers prevented their use, saving American lives on the shores of Normandy.

Meanwhile, Able, Baker and Charlie Companies landed along with the 5th Rangers, the 1st Infantry Division and the 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach. They suffered extremely heavy casualties but were able to complete their D-Day objectives. Able alone lost up to 96% casualties with just two men making it off the beaches. The 2nd Rangers were later involved in the Battle for Brest and the Battle of Hürtgen Forest where they led the assault on Hill 400, Bergstein. The battalion was deactivated after the war together with the 5th and 6th Battalion.

Veteran's personal medals
Bronze Star
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Purple Heart
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross
Veteran's personal file

2nd Ranger Battalion

Personal photographs

Click on a picture for enlargement

  • 14 November 2012
  • Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, USA
  • Columbarium 7 K-11-5

Remember each and every sacrifice, made for your freedom!

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