PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTER REFLECTIONS ON VETERAN'S DAY
Randy Ramaglia is an Anne Arundel County Professional Fire Fighter. Twenty-five years ago, he was an Army Ranger deployed in Somalia as part of Operation Gothic Serpent. On October 4, 1993 he was on the ground and wounded during the Battle of Mogadishu, made famous by the book and movie “Blackhawk Down.” Below, he discusses his keys to success first as an Army Ranger and now as a Professional Fire Fighter.
I want to thank you all for this opportunity and privilege of being featured on the Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighter’s page. I want to thank all my fellow Vets and Firefighters on this 25th Anniversary of Operation Gothic Serpent. You know I am one of the fortunate few out of millions of soldiers. The vast majority will never see their names in a book, be featured on tv or receive much recognition for their service. Yet they still serve their country regardless of the lack of recognition and all too commonly, appreciation of their services.
This also holds true for the men and women of emergency services.
It’s about attitude and teamwork. It’s not about YOU as an individual. From carrying a wounded soldier to a helicopter or dragging a victim from a burning building – it’s about teamwork. You’re each part of the department with different roles yet working towards a common goal. Every one of us has a responsibility. A responsibility to perform and pull our weight. We do it for the citizens of the county and our fellow firefighters. You have an obligation to be prepared, to not let the crew down. You depend on each other to be prepared.
My Ranger Buddy Keni Thomas recorded a song that I think you will appreciate. It’s called "Hold the Line" and the video features a football game. The chorus goes " Hold the line, hold the line, shoulder to shoulder, and side by side, you give it your best and I'll give it mine, we can win this together if we hold the line." It’s kind of cheesy but it sums up the Professional Fire Fighters well. And we’ve successfully been holding the line for some time now.
Do What’s Right
I try and do what is right for my Company, my Battalion, and my Fire Department. Early on I recognized that I'm just a part of whatever it is I am participating in and I try to not make it about me. That mentality teamed with work ethic, determination and sound moral compass helps ensure our ultimate success in serving the citizens of Anne Arundel County
Focus on the Bigger Picture
After I had been shot, I continued to do my job, continued to perform my role on the Team. Why? Because I was still physically able and never lost focus of the importance of my role on the Team. It was never just about me and my wellbeing. It was about us as a unit, as a team.
In a nutshell, I adapted and overcame, just as we as a unit, as a team, adapted and overcame throughout the battle. Essentially the same thing we do during the mitigation of emergency incidents.
There are times on the job when it’s a long shift and you’re down - ready to call it a day. In Somalia, our armored vests had ballistic plates on the chest capable of stopping direct rifle shots to the vital organs. On the day of the big battle, a Ranger was shot in the chest, knocked down, and he got back up. He was hit & knocked back down again AND still got back up! How’s that for fortitude? So think about that next time you find yourself ready to hang it up during the shift.
And remember no matter how bad the shift seems it can ALWAYS get worse.
"Never leave a fallen comrade." Always help a brother or sister up - you never know, it may one day be you on the stretcher.
The Ranger Creed
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high “esprit de corps” of my Ranger Regiment.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be. One hundred-percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I’m a specially selected and well trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country, I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight onto the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.
"Rangers Lead the Way"