In Reply to: Leave no man behind posted by Joe on September 14, 2009 at 16:22:
: : Leave no man behind. What is the history behind this Army ranger creed? there are different versions in many countries, was it used in ancient times?
: Fifth stanza of the Army Ranger creed, which states: "I
: shall never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy."
: The above is "modern" 1974.
: The concept is actually not that old, say late 1800's is the first it is noted. It is fairly common in elite Airborne units say Vietnam (Hal Moore for certain). It was almost a truism a code for the US Marine Corps in Vietnam but not a "motto".
: Burial in place was the norm up into the Korean War for the US and most armies. The whole concept is basically based upon having the means top accomplish such, that is the helicopter
: mobility since Vietnam.
: Really that simple, there was no way to evacuate the dead very far until the advent of the helicopter and in previous to Vietnam some situations with armored mobility. Exceptions were made Lord Nelson was preserved in a barrel of rum after Trafalgar.
: Getting the wounded out has been a universal military tradition back to the earliest armies, Napoleon and such in more recent eras. The classic tale of the 300 Spartans has the soldiers risking all to recover the body of their leader. Taking or holding one's colours, flag or standard
: is typical since at least Rome. The saying that was attributed to the Spartans, "
: Come home with your shield or on it," meaning come home victorious or dead is allied.
: Today's Army: Soldier's Creed:
: I will always place the mission first.
: I will never accept defeat.
: I will never quit.
: I will never leave a fallen comrade.
It's a thoroughly American tradition, and modern - as Joe points out, till very recently repatriating the dead was simply not a physical possibility. Of course military morale and cohesion demand, and always have demanded, that men of a unit show loyalty to each other; but the notion that you are NEVER justified in saying "There's absolutely no way we can help poor old Joe - we'll have to pull out and leave him" is, I think, unique to the US Forces. I'd say that the majority of European soldiers would disapprove of that as a principle. (VSD)