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RANGER HALL OF FAME
Senator Strom Thurmond predated the advent of the United States Army Ranger Course. On December 11, 1941, the day the United States declared war on Germany, Senator Thurmond took a leave of absence from the Judicial Bench to join the United States Army. Having been in the Reserves since 1924, he was commissioned a Lieutenant with the First Army's Eighty-second Airborne Division. On D-Day in 1944, his troop glider crash-landed behind enemy lines in France. Sustaining minor injuries, he and the other men fought for two days in isolation before they succeeded in linking up with American Forces advancing from their beachhead in Normandy. This type of mission demonstrates a classic Ranger-style operation which included infiltration of an enemy held area, and disruption of enemy lines of communication and his order of battle. Senator Thurmond later served in the Pacific. By the time he was discharged, he held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He retired from the United States Army Reserve as a Major General in 1960. In his later public service, Senator Thurmond advocated a strong National Defense including the full participation of the United States Army Reserve. He strongly supported the establishment and maintenance of an extraordinary fighting force, one that is capable of operating in all types of terrain, weather conditions, and without regard for the potential enemy hampering of the operational considerations. The idea that would later be embodied as the United States Army Rangers.
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!!!
(Already a member of the US Army reserves, Strom Thurmond gave up his entitlement as a judge to draft deferment after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He immediately joined the army, was employed as a captain and assigned to the 713th Military Police Battalion attached to First Army headquarters.
In 1943 Thurmond was attached to the 82nd Airborne in a civil affairs role and trained with them as glider infantry when the division moved to England. He was part of Mission Elmira, a reinforcement to the initial D-day airborne landings, when he landed by glider near St Maire Eglise later in the day of June 6. At 41, he is thought to have been the oldest person to land with the 82nd on D-Day.)
Early life and career
James Strom Thurmond was born on December 5, 1902, in Edgefield, South Carolina, the son of John William Thurmond (May 1, 1862 - June 17, 1934) and Eleanor Gertrude Strom (July 18, 1870 - January 10, 1958). He attended Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina (now Clemson University), where he was a member of ΠΚΑ, graduating in 1923 with a degree in horticulture.
He was a farmer, teacher and athletic coach until 1929, when he became Edgefield County's superintendent of education, serving until 1933. Thurmond studied law with his father and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1930. He served as the Edgefield Town and County attorney from 1930 to 1938, and joined the United States Army Reserve in 1924. In 1933 Thurmond was elected to the South Carolina Senate and represented Edgefield until he was elected to the Eleventh Circuit judgeship.
After the outbreak of World War II, Judge Thurmond resigned from the bench to serve in the U.S. Army, rising to Lieutenant Colonel. In the Battle of Normandy (June 6–August 25, 1944), he crash-landed his glider with the 82nd Airborne Division. For his military service, he received 18 decorations, medals and awards, including the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor device, Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Belgium's Order of the Crown and France's Croix de Guerre. During 1954-55 he was president of the Reserve Officers Association. He later retired from the U.S. Army Reserves with the rank of Major General.
- Governor of South Carolina (1947–1951)
- States' Rights Democratic presidential candidate (1948)
- Eight-term Senator from South Carolina (December 1954–April 1956 and November 1956–January 2003)
- Democrat (1954–April 1956 and November 1956–September 1964)
- Republican (September 1964–January 2003)
- President pro tempore (1981–1987; 1995–January 3, 2001; January 20, 2001–June 6, 2001)
- Set record for the longest Congressional filibuster (1957)
- Set record for oldest serving member at 94 years (1997)
- Set the then-record for longest cumulative tenure in the Senate at 43 years (1997), increasing to 47 years, 6 months at his retirement in January 2003, surpassed by Robert Byrd in July 2006
- Became the only senator ever to serve at the age of 100