An author working on a book about the history of an elite Army unit has made a surprising discovery in an Iowa museum. Michael Vogt (VOHT), curator of the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston, says the author was standing in front of a display that shows American soldiers became part of British units during World War II. Robert Berens (BAIR-unz), an eventual member of the Army’s Rangers, trained with British commandos and his U.S. combat jacket wore out quickly, so the Brits gave him one of their jackets to wear. Berens became part of Britian’s Number One Commandos. When the author saw the jacket, he told Vogt it might be the only one like it that exists, because the British battle jacket has stitched on its sleeves the soldier’s American rank insignia. Berens is still alive, living in Florida, and he’s written several books about military history himself. Iowans were the vast majority of the soldiers who started out as Army Rangers, according to Vogt. The Rangers were formed out of the 34th infantry division, known as the “Red Bulls” who came from Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, and since Iowa was more heavily populated at the time, Vogt says Iowans made up a good share of that first group of Rangers. It was back in 1942, and the American soldiers in Northern Ireland who eventually became Army Rangers went to Scotland to train with British commandos. Army Rangers then served in North Africa and Italy, and other Ranger units were the first to scale European cliffs on D-Day.
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