Brian Danker and Steve Corey had very different childhoods. Brian was born in New York City and grew up in an orphanage, while Steve was born in Des Moines, Iowa, but grew up in Redondo Beach with an older brother and sister. Brian enlisted when he turned 17, and Steve, whose sister worked for the local Draft Board, enlisted for jump school. Steve viewed the war as a rite of passage; it was neither good or bad, but was something he had to do. When Brian went to basic training and received a uniform shirt with “U.S. Army” emblazoned on it, he felt a strong sense of belonging. Both Steve and Brian ended up in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and volunteered for the Ranger Company. In 1969, all LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) units were reorganized under the 75th Infantry Regiment as 15 separate company-sized units. N Company was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The Ranger Company appealed to Brian and Steve because it offered better training and equipment. To be selected for the company, each volunteer had to undergo a 4-week mini-Ranger school consisting of live fire exercises, rappelling, medical training, map reading, and preparing operation orders. By the end of training, “everyone had to know everyone else’s job.” On missions, each team consisted of 5-7 Rangers. The team leader was an E-5 or E-6, and the team included a point man, a slack man, an RTO (radio telephone operator), and a “rear door.” Sometimes a Kit Carson Scout (former VC or NVA) accompanied a patrol. The Rangers wanted contact, walking enemy trails looking for the enemy. When they killed an enemy Soldier, the Rangers had to search and photograph the body for intelligence purposes. They noted that their teams always left the enemy dead on the trails so they could be recovered by their people. They describe several missions they participated in, highlighting how they prepared for a patrol, and how they conducted themselves in the jungle (no smoking on patrol, and no bathing for a few days prior to mask their smell). They highlight the strong sense of camaraderie they felt with their teammates. After leaving the military, Brian became a police officer and Steve remained in the Army, retiring as a Command Sergeant Major.
In this interview, Brian and Steve describe the unique stories of their upbringing and their shared experiences in N Company Rangers. They highlight the special procedures they employed in the jungle while recalling individual missions they conducted. At the end of the interview, they reflect on their service, noting that “that one year defined me,” and “my morals and values came from my service.”