Bangles On The Radio, Reagan In The White House, Memorial Services Back Home.

In 1987 The Bangles were capturing the airways of the world with their music. Ronald Reagan was in the White House winning the battle for the soul of the human race and crushing the Soviets, and the crew of Ranger 12 joined me under the ocean. I would return to the surface, they are still lost all these decades later.

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The first paragraph might sound disrespectful to the crew of the mission, but it was part of the joking back and forth between the submarine riders and the flight crew of the era that “there were a lot more airplanes in the ocean than submarines in the sky.” We busted each other’s chops all the time back in 32 Division: where the riders, flyers, and skimmers came to roost between deployments. The humor of that statement left when I found out about the death of my friends CTI3 Patrick Price and CTI3 Craig Rudolph a few weeks later. (I’d love to link pictures of them, but the web wasn’t around yet. I can still picture them in my mind. Forever young.)

I’d been out on a mission on a submarine with a detachment of people who knew the air crew. We’d been a tad bit busy, and we had not received word of the crash that killed our friends. But the dark depths we’d just left were the grave of our comrades. When we found out, weeks after the deaths and the memorial service, we held our own impromptu memorial at the enlisted club in Naples, Italy.

The Cold War wasn’t all that cold for the people who flew the missions from carriers, or who rode the submarines. Nor was it cold for the men on the DMZ in Korea, or the plains of the Fulda Gap in West Germany. It was hot. Shots were fired, people hacked to death with axes, and planes plummeted to the bottom of the sea with the crew still strapped in their seats. We lived in a Europe racked with terrorist actions. It impacted our lives directly.

Today, 28 years later, people in the United States think that terrorism is something relatively new. Not for us. We all had stories about places we’d just left being blown up. I can count two different places that went bang within 24 (or 2-4) hours of my departing. It was a tense time for everyone. Every mission we went on, surface/subsurface/air, could be the one that started WW III. Sound like an exaggeration? Not to us: we were the guys who collected the intelligence that war decisions would be based on back in Washington. If we hit the panic button, bad things would happen to people as a result. Consequently we trained hard, we treated every single trip as a wartime event. We had fun like all young men like to (it was just men back in the 80’s) but when things got tense, we hunkered down and did our best.

I remember Craig as a quiet guy who was a good student. He sat across the aisle from me in class for the final part of our spook training. He had a partner in crime in another student (who didn’t complete the training pipeline: about 40% drop rate at that time) and so our contact was somewhat minimal. He went to flight school and I went to surface school.

Pat was the quintessential southern gentleman. I remember him as a friend of everyone. He was the guy who would hold the door open for you in a driving rain even if he didn’t know you. There was a smile in his eyes whenever you talked to him. He was in love with his wife. He loved to fly, and I know he’d think it funny and touching that the gymnasium at the Defense Language Institute is named in his honor, yet there is nothing about him on the webpage for the facility: not even a picture. That’s sad. He was a good looking young man.

This weekend marked that anniversary for the people who were friends and relatives of the crew of Ranger 12. I’ve written about it before, I’ll write about it again. Those deaths were part of the sacrifice made to keep a nation free. The deaths of my friends and classmates on Ranger 12 were the last Cryptologic Technicians to die during the Cold War. I know it’s not how some would view the military during the Cold War era, but they were brave young men on the front lines of a struggle for the soul of mankind. If you doubt their integrity, loyalty, or zeal for the mission, I pity you.

Freedom isn’t free. RIP, shipmates. I still miss you.

LT Stephen H. Batchelder
LCDR Ronald R. Callander
AT2 Richard A. Herzing
LT Alan A. Levine
CTI3 Patrick R. Price
LT James D. Richards
CTI3 Craig H. Rudolf

*******update 1020 Central************update 1020 Central*******

If you have a photo of the crew members (any of them) or a picture of just Pat and/or Craig, please contact me privately. We have a DLI contact who will get that web page updated with info if he can. joseph AT commotioninthepews.com Thanks.

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Ranger 12 Memorial

Ranger 12 Memorial

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Joseph Courtemanche

About Joseph Courtemanche

I’m a conservative Christian author who’s been happily married for over 30 years. I am a Veteran of the United States Navy, Naval Security Group. I speak a few languages, I have an absurd sense of humor and I’m proud to be an American.

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12 Responses to Bangles On The Radio, Reagan In The White House, Memorial Services Back Home.

  1. Raymond Wolfe CTRCS (SS/NAC) says:

    I had the honor of painting portraits of members of the crew for the dedication of the New Quarterdeck in the Comnavsecgru op’s building, in memory of their service to our mission and country. The ceremony was conduct by COMNAVSECGRU with a full command formation in the front of the op’s building. The paintings were placed on the wall as a manorial to their dedication to duty and sacrifice to country. I was the Direct Support Division Chief at the time with Captain Kunnie, and Ltcdr Panone. It was a very emotional ceremony and I hope The paintings did them justice.

  2. Mike Burress says:

    CTI3 Rudolf was one of my students at Goodfellow. Craig was a good kid. He would come across as a little “goofy” at times but, I wasn’t fooled! He was one smart kid, with a great handle on his job. I was flying with the “Brunswick Boys” out of Sig during the time of the accident and when we briefed the next day, they broke the news to us. I didn’t find out the crew members that were lost until we got back. I was devastated. I had just spoken with Craig a few weeks prior to his departure. He was ready to go do his job.
    The Navy lost 7 fantastic people that dark, cold night in January of ’87. We all lost friends and shipmates. May they forever rest in peace and their spirits live on, not only every January but, every day we that are here are on watch.

  3. Mark Frazier says:

    I served at Rota in 32 division during that time. I knew Pat well, working with most of them on “the watch”. All great people in that division….worked hard, played hard, but above all, we respected each other for the work we were doing. Still silent warriors, glad that these posts honor the service of thoses that “gave all”. Fair winds and following seas.

  4. Missy J Willette says:

    I still remember the day. I was working in the lineshack when we got the news my friend had a crush on Lt Levine. She was crying. I just sat there it didn’t seem real to me. It still doesn’t. But I miss them I miss VQ-2 and all my friends. I wish that we could turn back time and make things different.

  5. Jorge says:

    Great tribute. I did not know anyone on the flight. We heard the news when we were in phase 2 at GAFB. Quite sobering when you think that you are just an I-brancher and will spend your career in safety, and then to hear that two had been killed. Thank you again…

    CTIC(SS) (Ret)

  6. CTIC(NAC) USN Retired says:

    I knew two of them, as well as Rod. I had flown with LCDR Ronald R. Callander in VQ-1. I ran into him in the hanger a couple of months prior. I only knew CTI3 Pat Price for a short while before leaving Rota to join the Fleet Introduction Team for the Aries II aircraft. He saw me off and asked me to do a good job getting the new planes ready for them. I also had the honor to attend the dedication of the memorial at the NSA Memorial Park. As I mentioned it on Facebook, but I never fail to greet the crew when I drive past the memorial. Believe me when I say “They are not forgotten.”

  7. Michael Hannon says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for the Sharing of Your Thoughts regarding Ranger 12. What you have written is special. I was in Athens when we got the news. I was also at the Memorial that was held back at Rota. I read the Eulogy for both Pat and Craig. The only one I did not know or ever flew with was the pilot of that mission. LT Levine. I knew the other VQ crewmembers and had the honor of flying with them many times.
    It is sad. They were all very good at what they did. They were all too young to go, but I know in my soul, they still on-station. Thanks again Joe.

  8. I was on the Nimitz Det with Craig and Pat. Patrick would hang out with us under the Finger and would go up on the deck between flight ops and work on the airplane with us. Before the final launch of Ranger 12, I had to take the A Sheet up to Lt Levine and get him to sign before Taxi. To noisy to communicate verbally, Rick Herzing tapped my on the Cranial and gave me a thumbs up on my way down the door, Patrick waved as I stepped down onto the deck. The Plane Captain and I closed the door and I went below with the A Sheet. Craig and Patrick were good guys and great Shipmates. RIP Ranger 12 and its Crew, and May God Bless their Families and Friends.

  9. Ed Hills says:

    Both of these linguists were students during my tenure as language department head for the Navy Det at Goodfellow AFB. As a former VQ2 EA3B Aircrewman I have intimate recollections of each event in the preflight, flight deck movement, catapult launch, aerial refueling and trap recoveries that they experienced. I also remember how difficult it was to keep that airframe in working order. I was working in OPNAV when the casrep crossed my desk. I knew both of these guys by sight and my lasting recollection of Pat Price is, and will always be, of he, his wife and baby sitting on a blanket with us at a picnic at the rec camp at Lake Nasworthy. Ed Hills, CTICM(NAC), USN Retired.

    • Hello, Master Chief. I was there and remember you as well. I was the pain in the rump in Mike Burress’s class. Chief Bot no doubt spent many an hour explaining why I shouldn’t be sent to the fleet. Nice to hear from you today.

  10. Chuck Howard says:

    I didn’t know any of those men. But, I know the era and conditions extremely well. Fair winds and following seas to all.

  11. Rodney Murphy CTO1 RETIRED says:

    I knew those men. I was an “O” brancher in 32 Div. And was out TAD with my Det in the area when it happened. They had been waved off three times when they went down. It hit Rota especially the CT community pretty hard. May they have fair winds and following seas and RIP.

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