Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ranger Rasch the Rock Kommando

© By Albert A Rasch

"GoGo and I were exceptionally polite, having been brought up properly. This of course, worked heavily in our favor. Your quintessential werewolves in sheep's clothing."

The Range and GoGo Circa 1981

Whup, whup, whup,whup… the sounds of Huey rotor blades filled the room.

Turning to Dude sitting next to him, Cook asks, “Hey, how come all you guys sit on your helmets?” The chopper slipped as it dropped to assault altitude.

Dude looks at him like he’s cherry. “So we don’t get our BALLS blown off!”

As the initial strains of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie roared from the Psyops helicopter and Cook sat on his helmet, yours truly would belt out:

“This is Ranger Rasch your Rock Kommando, rocking you on WNUB, 88.1 on your F.M. Dial! The Nub!”

Oh yeah baby! That was my nickname, Ranger Rasch. Artisan of the Australian rappel, three shot burst maestro of the M60 gpmg, and not a bad DJ as college ones go. In those days, we had ten watts, and barely covered the campus. But that didn't keep me from trying to be as Big-Time as possible.

Yup, I was right there at the cutting edge of Punk and New Wave, as disco mercifully died a not so silent death. God, I hated disco. You had to look good to do it, and you had to do it right. Damn that John Travolta and the Bee Gees.

My playlist always started with the Apocalypse Now rendition of “Ride of the Valkyrie” and ended with Barry Sadler’s Ballad of the Green Berets.” I always managed to fit Warren Zevon’s, “Bring Lawyers Guns and Money,” and my favorite, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner,” into the show. I swear my psychological addiction to the Mac 10 and Sionics had something to do with the back cover on that album if memory serves correctly. Whenever I felt my fan's enthusiasm flagging, I would spin Blue Oyster Cult and "Go Go Godzilla," and back it up with "Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads.

But I also played a lot of dance tunes too. Stray Cats, Van Halen, the B-52s, I even played some Michael Jackson of that era. Blondie was a favorite, and I remember getting a lot of requests for Kool and the Gang. And we can’t forget the Stones with “Start Me Up.”

Now remember WNUB was Norwich University’s radio station, and Norwich is the finest military institution on the face of this earth, and I’ll slug it out with anyone who would care to challenge me on that. My point is that in those days, there just weren’t that many girls in the Corp of Cadets to impress with my military prowess, vinyl spinning, or dance floor moves.

But our sister school was, and still is, Vermont College. Now that place was filled with nothing but girls. The Range, and partner in crime GoGo, were regular early morning fixtures at the VC cafeteria. Manned by matronly, and fortuitously, very liberal Vermont ladies, we were welcomed guests there. (If they only knew …) GoGo and I were exceptionally polite, having been brought up properly. This of course, worked heavily in our favor. Your quintessential werewolves in sheeps clothing.

The miserable alarm would go off every morning. The girls, with their mussed up hair, rumpled pajamas, and team jerseys, would lean heavily on us as we made our collective way down to the cafeteria. I can remember many bleary eyed morning, peering over a glass of chocolate milk at my erstwhile companion’s blood-shot eyes. Just like the day before, he would mumble, “Damn it, we missed Formation… Again!” I would give him a non-committal grunt in return. Eight out of ten times I hadn’t taken a shower yet, and I was still in yesterday’s uniform, so conversation was not high on my agenda. My man was the Unit's health guru and vitamin king so he would put the morning’s quota of A, B 1-12, C, D, and assorted minerals in my hand. I’d wash them down with a gulp of milk. That we survived at all, was on account of those vitamins and the chocolate milk we drank.

We had modified the Uniform Regulations to suit our exalted and testosterone clouded status. We wore jump boots, bloused. Our piss cutters were worn at a rakeish tilt, low over the right eyebrow. Invariably we wore scarves, white or black, under our field jackets. We were supposed to wear the regulation winter coat, a fiber filled abomination that made you look like an off-green marshmallow. But we were important men of means, with reputations to uphold; we couldn't be seen in such odious, ill fitting clothing. Besides looking cool was eminently important to maintaining our status and savoir fare. We kept the field jacket's collars up and sufficiently unzipped to show our scarves to best effect. Now I had a penchant for wearing light weight colored sweaters under my shirt; rust, green, black, I had a good assortment of them, and I thought they looked smashing set off the dark green of our shirts, giving the uniform a sort of Panzer Commander flair. GoGo on the other hand preferred the WWII European Theater Flight Commander look that his Ray-Ban Aviators gave him. Dashing, yet approachable. The Aviators and his crisply pressed trousers were his constant companions regardless of time of day. I on the other hand had the rumpled, I-slept-in-this-last-night look. How he kept himself so squared away is one of those mysteries answerable only by the Devil.

Anyway, we would stagger our way to the bus and take the 30 minute ride back to campus, sprawled out somewhere in the back of the bus. By the time we got to the ‘Wich, we would be pretty awake, and capable of evading the marauding pinheads that would try to gig you for not being in formation. We even had a couple of freshmen lackeys trained to run interference for us should the need arise. They were obviously impressed, as well as they should have been, by our masterful physiques, irascible nature, and incredible style.

We would hit the gym for about forty-five minutes and then go our separate ways.

I was always glad to get to my dorm. I think it was Alumni Hall. The rooms were huge in comparison to the rest of the dorms, and I pretty much had mine to myself. Beats me who my roommate was; I don’t remember if we ever crossed paths. Down the hall, in the bathroom, the showers heads were close enough in the corners that you could turn three of them on simultaneously, and wash the tiredness right off you, along with any accumulated grime. The majority of the Cadets were off to class, with just a few of us opting out of those early morning classes. We certainly had our priorities in order. With a clean and pressed change of clothes, I was ready to face the world.

We would meet up again for Noon Formation. Our lackeys had standing orders to be in the mess hall and set it up for the Unit. The requisition officer for the Unit got them aprons so they would look like the serving crew. We had our own table, and their job was to see to it that we got four glasses of chocolate milk each. If fruit cocktail was being served they were to get us a couple of extra servings. Ice cream: two for everyone. Basically, wait on us as the need arose, and act as human shields during the occasional food fight. In return they got to sit with us and bask in our glory and imminence. Everyone should have a lackey or two.

Afternoon classes were a trial. Who wants to do anything after lunch? But like good citizen-soldiers, we did our duty and attended.

As soon as classes were out it was back on to the VC bus, where we would hold court in our usual seats on the back of the bus. I still remember the awed looks of the freshmen as we strode on the bus with our unauthorized uniforms. You would overhear the whispered, “It’s them.” Or, “Is that GoGo? He’s the Range?” “What are they, special ops?” or any number of variations on the theme.

To be continued...


Kristine said...

Do you have any pictures from that era? We really need pictures.

Albert A Rasch said...


Ahh, I'll see if any physical evidence of that era still exists. Much of it was destroyed to protect the innocent...


Albert A Rasch said...


I'm trying to get the Unit historian, he may have something socked away somewhere...


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Albert you had to be an Apocalypse Now fan too!
So how did you get on with Apocalypse Now Redux?

For my money there were a few stunning extra shots and i liked the extra scene with the playmates but the whole french colonial thing belonged on the cutting room floor.

Albert A Rasch said...


I haven't caught Redux yet. Not very family friendly so I kinda don't get to see those kinds of movies anymore. As a matter of fact, I've been dieing to see the Rome mini-series, but it will have to wait until I get a laptop with a DVD player.

Being married sometimes has it's disadvantages...

But the advantages more than make up for it!