News: Ranger veterans set to motivate, boost morale for overseas service members
INDIANAPOLIS - Danny McKnight, Keni Thomas, Howard Mullen Jr. and Charlie Manis are scheduled to go on a motivational tour, dubbed the Rangers Tour “Profiles in Extreme Courage” early this autumn across Southwest Asia.
Army Rangers with combat experience spanning from Vietnam to Mogadishu will be on the tour to motivate and boost the morale of our fighting service members deployed overseas.
Many Americans know McKnight, who was portrayed in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” Thomas was a former Army Ranger who turned country singer, and Mullen is a former Army Ranger and living legend among his Ranger peers. But who is Charlie Manis?
Manis, from Muncie, Ind., was an Indiana National Guard Company D, 151st Infantry Ranger and a Vietnam War veteran.
“I’m very humbled, to be a part of this tour, said Manis. “Any of my Company D Ranger brethren can do this but I’m very fortunate to be the person picked. There wasn’t a second thought; it was to honor my sons who served and all the troops for serving. To me it was natural, what better way to do it than jump up and volunteer. It’s easy to talk about it [supporting the troops], but when you get an opportunity to do it, it’s time to take action and not just talk,” said Manis.
Manis didn’t just talk.
While in Vietnam, Manis was part of a six-man ambush team. The team plunged in the jungle alone for up to five days at a time waiting for the enemy. Throughout his tour, Manis was part of approximately 18 missions. Of these missions, there were approximately nine enemy contacts.
Although he came back to a warm, welcome home ceremony, Vietnam veterans who came back later were met with protests.
“In the 70’s you didn’t really run around acting proud to be a Vietnam veteran. It was actually Sept. 11, 2011, that the whole patriot thing started turning around. All of a sudden I was a little more proud to say that I was a Vietnam vet and served,” Manis said.
For Manis there were no regrets for the time spent in service. His experience helped in shaping his personal life.
“My service time with Company D, Indiana Rangers, in Vietnam had definitely given me the confidence and drive to have a successful life, career, and family,” said Manis.
For his time in service, Manis received the Bronze Star with V-device, Purple Heart, and National Defense Service Medal, among other awards.
Although Manis has long retired from the military, he and his family continue to actively serve the military.
The Manis family is military-oriented with strong family values. Charlie, and his wife, Brenda, reside in Muncie. They have a daughter, Jordon Ann Manis, and two sons serving in the U.S. Army: Capt. Grabriel Manis and Spc. Josh Manis.
Brenda is involved in a program through the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., called “Operation Support Our Troops.” The program provides names to West Point parents who wish to send care packages to deployed soldiers in the Middle East. Names are also provided by returning soldiers who provide her with names of their replacements. She receives regular donations of care box items as well as postage help from concerned citizens and organizations in the community. In 2004 she participated in the program and sent more than 1,500 pounds of care boxes to Iraq and Afghanistan. To date she has sent more than 7,000 pounds of care boxes overseas.
“It’s easy to talk about supporting the troops,” said Manis. “A lot of people buy a two-dollar yellow ribbon and stick it on their car and that’s supporting the troops. To me it’s a little more than that,” he said. “We have 30 year-old sergeants out there with their whole adult life, all they know is war. We want them to know that they can come back home, be successful and get on with your life.”
Through his tour in the Middle East, Manis hopes his message will get through the young minds of the troops who are fighting for their lives and future.
Company D, 151st Infantry Ranger History:
During the Vietnam conflict a little more than 7,000 Army National Guardsmen served in the Vietnam War. Of these, only one would stay together from activation and serve in combat as a National Guard unit. Company D Ranger 151st Airborne Infantry, was the only National Guard Infantry unit to serve in Vietnam. The unit comprised of 100 percent airborne qualified paratroopers.
On Monday, May 13, 1968, after the unit was activated for duty by President Lyndon B. Johnson, eight officers, one warrant officer, and 195 enlisted men departed the Indiana National Guard Headquarters at Stout Field, Indianapolis, and convoyed in World War II era trucks to Fort Benning, Ga.
The unit conducted intensive unit and individual training prior to and during its tour in Vietnam to include: jungle warfare in Panama, Ranger school, recondo school, pathfinder, jump master, radio telephone operator, and other courses. Additionally, the company received training from the British and Australian Special Air Service, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in advanced patrolling and tracking concepts. Company D was declared by the Infantry School at Benning as the best trained unit in its history.
Company D arrived in Vietnam on Dec. 30, 1968. During their tour of duty, four members of Company D made the supreme sacrifice on Ranger missions, with two additional deaths resulting from a helicopter crash, and one drowned during a river crossing exercise.
On Nov. 20, 1969, Company D commenced stand-down procedures and returned home. Then Indiana Gov. Edgar G. Whitcomb, declared Nov. 26, 1969, as “Unity Day” and ordered all state and county offices closed in recognition of Company D’s homecoming ceremony held that evening at Tyndall Armory in Indianapolis. Company D was also awarded the “key to the city” by then Indianapolis Mayor Richard G. Lugar.
Indiana Rangers were decorated 537 times in Vietnam: 18 Silver Stars, one Soldiers Medal, 122 Bronze Stars - 87 with “V” device for valor, 101 Purple Hearts, 111 Air Medals and 184 Army Commendation Medals - 30 with “V” device for valor. No other single Army infantry company was as decorated during a one-year period of time as the Indiana Rangers. The unit has been decommissioned.
History of the Company D 151 Infantry Rangers by Timothy Ramey, www.ranger151.com, were used in this feature.
Date Posted:09.12.2011 20:10
Location:INDIANAPOLIS, IN, US
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