Friday, July 25, 2014

TOP STORY >> Hall of Fame honors local hero

Retired Staff Sgt. Calvin D. (Cal) Rollins of Cabot and nine other honorees were inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame last week at Fort Benning, Ga.

The 67-year-old was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his service during the Vietnam War. Born in Pine Bluff and a graduate of Morrilton High School, he enlisted in the Army in June 1965. By June 1966, he was an Airborne Ranger and team leader assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.

He was assigned in 1968 to the Special Forces Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation group, where he headed special projects until he was wounded by mortar fire.

The Rangers were introduced and stood for the reading of their biographies before receiving their medallions.

According to the citation, “Ranger Rollins took part in Project Omega, Command and Control South Cross Border Operations. He also took part in Operations Shining Brass/Prairie in Laos, Daniel Boone in Cambodia, Muscle Shoals, Spear, Dawes, Buckner and March.

“In September 1968, he was wounded in action during operations in Laos and subsequently medically evacuated through Japan to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He was next transferred to Reynolds Army Hospital at Fort Sill. He was placed on the temporary disabled retired list in May 1969 and medically retired with 50 percent disability in May 1970.”

Rollins was the lowest-ranking inductee with the shortest span of service.

A news release said, “Rollins spoke briefly after his induction, describing the exemplary actions of fellow Rangers, how they surmounted seemingly impossible obstacles, and expressing their gratitude to their families and friends and the Lord above, who helped them along the way.”

Several of the honorees dedicated their awards to other Rangers who led the way and recounted tales of bravery and sacrifice.

“All were humble and touched by the recognition and stood tall and recited the Ranger creed with the current Ranger class in attendance, who filled the back of the auditorium, paying respect to the men who forged the path on which they all proudly march as Rangers,” according to the news release.

He is a recipient of the Bronze Star Service Medal, the Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster, two Purple Hearts, two Air Medals, the Army Commendation with Valor Device and the Good Conduct Medal.

He was also given the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Gallant-ry Cross with Palm, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation with four bronze oak leaves, Republic of Vietnam Presi-dential Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachutists Badge and more.

The Ranger Hall of Fame began in 1992 and is made up of Rangers nominated by select Ranger units and associations representing each era of Ranger history.

The selection board scrutinizes each nominee to ensure that “only the most extraordinary contributions receive acknowledgement,” the news release said.

Rangers whose contributions embody the spirit of sacrifice, loyal service and character are inducted.

After his military service, Rollins worked in engineering and law enforcement, retiring in 1999 after being declared 100 percent disabled.

Rollins has served as secretary of the Echo 20th/Charlie Rangers Association and the Special Operations Association, and he still serves as webmaster for both organizations as well as for the Worldwide Army Rangers Association.

“He is working on plans for the opening of the Special Forces Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Museum, which he founded,” the release mentions.

He works with veterans in the post-traumatic stress disorder program at the Veterans Health Systems hospital in North Little Rock.

Another Arkansan, Brig. Gen. Herbert J. Lloyd of Hope, was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. Biographies and photos of Hall of Fame members are displayed on permanent plaques at Fort Benning.

The cast bronze medallions bear the image of an eagle in flight symbolizing strength and the warrior. The eagle carries an American flag, representing the Rangers’ commitment to their country, and arrows representing resolve and readiness to fight to defend the Constitution as he flies over the Ranger Memorial.

Rollins was also honored with 12 others in a special ceremony in 2013 as a Worldwide Army Ranger Man of the Year award recipient.