Spc. Travis Burnham
27th Public Affairs Detachment
It was the 10th Mountain Division Monument incarnate: a World War II veteran helping today’s modern soldier.
Stanley Karbowski, a World War II veteran and former member of the elite “Darby’s Rangers,” toured Fort Drum Thursday. During that tour he spoke to a group of future Rangers who are enrolled in the pre-Ranger course at the Light Fighter School.
When Karbowski fought in North Africa and Italy, his gear was simple: rifle, ruck and canteen. It was quite the contrast from today’s technologically advanced light fighters with night vision capabilities and satellite communication systems.
As different as the equipment may be, many of the battle proven lessons remain the same.
The soldiers of the pre-Ranger course received a first-hand account of some of those lessons.
Karbowski described to the soldiers a battle in Italy in which German troops pinned his company down in a field at night. Realizing they were outnumbered by tens of thousands, Karbowski went to his company commander and suggested they move out while it was still dark. The new commander disagreed and waited to move the troops the next day. The result was 100 percent casualties. From a company-size element, only eight survived, although severely wounded. Karbowski, with his arm nearly severed from his body, injected himself with morphine and made it 12 miles to safety on foot.
After an emotional description of the battle, Karbowski said, “And after 59 years of rehab I am as good as new.”
Light Fighter School instructors showed Karbowski some of the equipment used by today’s Rangers. Instructors explained the effectiveness of the new body armor with protective plates and stealthness of night vision goggles.
Karbowski said he was impressed by the advances of technology and he wished he had the same equipment in World War II.
“I'd like to join back up – I have the spirit,” he joked.
After getting the opportunity to listen and speak with Karbowski, Sgt. Ryan Parkhurst, A Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, a student in the pre-Ranger course, said meeting a former “Darby’s Ranger” was an honor.
“He is history walking,” Parkhurst said. “He was an original Ranger. Knowing what training he had to go through and what we have to go through now – I believe it’s all in your head and what’s in your heart.”
“He inspires me when I put on the uniform,” he added. “One day I hope to be one of those guys.”
(Editor’s note: Col. William O. Darby trained hand-selected troops in northern Scotland with the British elite forces. Darby was killed in action while serving as the assistant division commander for the 10th Mountain Division and was posthumously promoted to brigadier general.)