Memorial page from a 1st Ranger Battalion yearbook commemorating their KIA casualties suffered the first day of Operation Urgent Fury, October 25, 1983.
From left to right, Sergeant Randy E. Cline, commander of a gun jeep ambushed on the Eastern fringe of the airfield. Specialist 4th Class Mark O. Yamane is depicted next. Yamane was a machine gunner who was killed when he stepped from behind a truck parked on the runway one time too many. He was providing covering fire for his team mates, who were hot-wiring the vehicle. My relationship with Yamane is discussed in the early chapters of the narrative which can be found in the Archives.
The Cubans and Grenadian milita emplaced many obstacles on the runway, in an effort to prevent US aircraft from landing. Obstacles included barrels, spikes hammered into the tarmac, and vehicles parked at intervals. One vehicle hot wired and moved by Rangers was a brown Jaguar XJ-S. Rangers popped the trunk, and used it to haul ammunition.
Next, PFC Russell L. Robinson, Sergeant Mark A. Rademacher, and PFC Marlin R. Maynard. These Rangers were all members of Cline's gun jeep team. Maynard had been a hung jumper that morning during the parachute assault, and was pulled back into the aircraft. Maynard's string of hard luck was well-known among 1st Battalion Rangers. He had been recycled twice in Ranger school, then sent home early without graduating. One week later, he was a hung jumper over Fury DZ. Short hours later, he was dead.
Rademacher was a popular and well-known Ranger. He had competed in the Best Ranger Competition, and was a classmate of mine from Ranger class 14-81.
One member of Cline's gun jeep team is not depicted. A Ranger named Romick was the proverbial "lone survivor." It is said that Romick was wounded by five separate bullets, two in the legs, two in the upper body, and one in the head that penetrated his steel pot helmet, leaving a dimple in the middle of his forehead.
As 1st Battalion Rangers of that era recall the story, Cline's gun jeep was hit with both RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and RPK (a Soviet-bloc squad automatic weapon, or machinegun, in short) fire, with most Rangers on the gun jeep killed outright. Romick somehow ended up in a ditch, and literally crawled several hundred meters back to the airfield, cradling a weapon taken from one of the Cubans that he killed while making his escape. He was barely alive.
Rand Miller, a (then) young Ranger who was fortuitously bumped off that ill-fated gun jeep team, remembers the tale somewhat differently: "When our platoon finally came back into the barracks, I was told we had some casualties. I was told that the jeep that I was assigned to was ambushed by a patrol of 20 or more Cubans. There was only one survivor, who was badly wounded with about 5 holes in him.
My heart sank. They said that the jeep was hit with an RPG (Soviet anti-tank rocket). My roommate Russell was killed instantly. The remaining three Rangers were thrown from the jeep. Under heavy fire from the Cubans, my team leader though wounded had to climb back onto the road to dismount a machine gun and get some more ammo. Sgt. Cline was wounded. My team leader (editor's note: referring to Rademacher) told the remaining team member PFC Romick to return to the airstrip and get help, while he and Sgt. Cline held off the Cubans.
PFC Romick fortunately made it back to the airstrip headquarters, though badly wounded and delirious. He was all bloody; shot in five places and was carrying a Soviet AK-47 rifle.
By the time reinforcements arrived my team leader was dead along with Sgt. Cline. There were many dead Cubans scattered within the vicinity."
In the aftermath of Urgent Fury, Romick was DX'd from the 1st Ranger Battalion, ostensibly for receiving a DUI, and sent down to the 24th Infantry Division, on Ft. Stewart. He attended Ranger school as a sergeant from the 24th ID, and earned his Ranger tab.
Tragically, this Ranger died prematurely under suspicious circumstances. His obituary reads in part, "Mr. Romick's body was found Tuesday, April 8, 2002 along Ottawa Creek in Union Township, Hancock County." The obituary ends, "Mr. Romick's death is being investigated by the Hancock County coroner's office."
Rest In Peace, Ranger. Rest In Peace.
Scanned page courtesy of an anonymous 1st Battalion Ranger.