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Bob Lind, Published October 16 2012

Neighbors: 75th Airborne Rangers established proud tradition

The 75th Airborne Rangers established a proud record for themselves in Vietnam, both as a unit and as individuals.

Stephen Johnson, Bemidji, Minn., is president of the Company G (Ranger) 75th Infantry Association. He says several members of the Rangers are living in the Fargo-Moorhead region.

Steve publishes newsletters for the association. Recently he sent Neighbors some articles from them, written by fellow Ranger David “Chief” Moncada, about one of their teammates, Robert Pruden, of Minneapolis.

But first, a little about Steve, who was born in Mahnomen, Minn., grew up in Grand Forks and graduated from Central High School there.

In Vietnam, he, like Pruden, was a team leader on a long-range reconnaissance patrol.

“One of the hardest things for me to do upon my return to the U.S.,” Steve writes, “was, on behalf my company, presenting Robert’s mom her Gold Star Award.”

Under fire

Pruden, as a Ranger team leader, was establishing an ambush position in the mountains west of Duc Pho, Vietnam, in November 1969 when North Vietnamese troops engaged his team in small-arms fire.

A report of the battle says that “without regard for his personal safety, Pruden stood and advanced toward the (North Vietnamese) soldiers, engaging the enemy with all that he had.

“Pruden was gravely injured several times while he advanced,” the report says, “but he rose twice so as to continue his advance, until he killed enough of the enemy force to cause them to disengage.

“SSG Pruden died of his multiple wounds that day, but his heroic actions saved the lives of his Ranger teammates, whom he deeply cared for.”

As a result of his heroism, Pruden was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. And Steve had the tough honor of awarding his mother with the Gold Star.

Treatment in Fargo

Steve comes to Fargo for care and assistance through the Veterans Administration. He attends a support group sponsored by the Fargo Vet Center. That group’s counselor is Dave Seifert, who also was a 75th Ranger in Vietnam.

Steve’s story, timely any time, is especially so now, with Veterans Day coming up shortly.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com

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