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RESPONSE TO TERROR | THE MILITARY

Ga. Town Grieves for 2 Rangers

October 23, 2001|From Associated Press

FT. BENNING, Ga. — Kelli Bass got choked up Monday when she thought about the hazards her Army Ranger buddies may be facing in Afghanistan.

"One of them is like my brother," said Bass, who cuts hair at Ranger Joe's Barber Shop, which specializes in the Rangers' "high and tight" haircuts. "If something were to happen to him, I'd lose it."

She and the other barbers at Ranger Joe's said they remember the two Rangers from Ft. Benning who were killed in a helicopter accident in Pakistan.

Spc. Jonn Edmunds, 20, of Cheyenne, Wyo., and Pfc. Kristofor T. Stonesifer, 28, of Missoula, Mont., were the first American combat-related deaths of the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign.

"They're not only customers, they are people you get close to," Bass' father, barber Earl Brannon, said of the Rangers stationed at the base. "If you lose one, it hurts."

Ranger representatives met with reporters Monday in front of Ft. Benning's Ranger Memorial, a marble monument honoring the elite fighting force.

"Everybody feels the loss of a fellow Ranger," said Lt. Col. Mark Ritter, deputy commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment. "We're continuing to prepare ourselves. Training goes on."

"Whenever you lose a Ranger, your condolences go out, but we all know when we sign on that there are going to be sacrifices," said Staff Sgt. Randy Duncan, 25, of Greeley, Colo.

The Rangers planned a memorial service today at an undisclosed location for Edmunds and Stonesifer, who were killed in Pakistan on Friday as their helicopter was preparing for search-and-rescue duty in neighboring Afghanistan, where Rangers have led the ground war.

The Army's 75th Ranger Regiment, based on this sprawling post near Columbus, has about 2,000 soldiers.

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