One day a year, Camp Frank D. Merrill Ranger training facility at the end of a long mountain road near Dahlonega, opens its doors to welcome civilians. That day is coming up on Saturday, May 7, from 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. It promises to be a great event for those who want to see and experience first-hand what tough Ranger military training is like.
Fly-bys by Black Hawk helicopters will be part of the day’s activities.
At Camp Merrill, one of the three phases of Ranger training takes place—known as the toughest of all military leadership training. The Camp Merrill training is the mountain phase, following the Ft. Benning, Georgia phase and preceding the swamp phase at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Only about 50 percent of those who enter pass the 61-day training course. During Ranger training, the soldiers will face conditions tougher than those in active combat: sleep and food deprivation, cold, extreme fatigue, raids, attacks and worse. Rangers develop the skills and qualities which will be critical to their survival and to the strength of our military.
The Rangers will give civilians an up-close perspective of these skills during the Battalion Open House. Most of the Open House events will take place on the airfield at the Camp. Guests will be treated to a Rangers-in-action demonstration, as well as a hands-on display of U.S. military equipment and weapons.
In past years, visitors have been allowed to shoot the weapons themselves, using blanks. Civilians will get to watch the night vision equipment being used, and then will be able to use the equipment themselves in a specially-setup facility.
Back on the airfield, exciting fly-bys and displays will showcase the Black Hawk helicopter; possibly Apaches and Chinooks will be included as well.
Ranger combatives will demonstrate their skills for civilians. A military free fall parachute jump will be part of the action. In a thrilling “spies and fries” demo, Rangers will do an extraction by helicopter. Camp Merrill has a state-of-the-art mountaineering center, and mountaineering will also be demonstrated.