No disrespect to the illustrated Ranger, SSG Avonye Chisolm. But he could have been in a pretty safe job — he was a kid with a GED who joined the Army to be a Culinary Specialist, which is what the bureaucracy calls a cook. Thousands of kids do that every year.
But… if you look at the image, you’ll see the rare combination (but fully earned on his part) of the tan Ranger beret and cook’s whites. Because he wasn’t content to sit in a mess hall (“dining facility”) and sling hash through the boring expedient of opening tray-packs.
He volunteered, and took on a challenge, and kept volunteering. Five times he went overseas to Operation Enduring Freedom. He attended the tough Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP-1) with a cohort of would-be Rangers from combat and support specialties alike, and completed the course. (A continuation, RASP-2, is demanded of combat leaders only).
A U.S. Army Ranger died as the result of injuries sustained during an airborne proficiency jump August 24 at Galahad Drop Zone. Staff Sgt. Avonye John Cavon Chisolm, 26, sustained serious injuries during the airborne operation; he was transported to the nearest military treatment facility; then air-lifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah, Georgia. He died August 25.The incident is under investigation. Chisolm was assigned to Company E, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., as a Culinary Specialist Non-Commissioned Officer.
He joined the Army in 2008, and volunteered for the Rangers right out of school. He appears to have had no assignments other than the 3rd Ranger Battalion and the 1st Battalion.
For a young guy, he liked going to leadership and logistic schools:
His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1, Basic Leader Course, the Unit Prevention Leader Course, Lean Six Sigma Course-Black Belt, Lean Six Sigma Course-Green Belt, Demonstrated Logistics Course, the Advanced Leader Course and the Culinary Skills Advanced Course. He was a certified ServSafe Food Protection Manager.
The jump accident that took his life is a reminder that even the support guys in SOF are expected to keep these qualifications and currencies up, and that, as safe as the military has made things like parachuting (“relative safety”), it hasn’t made it “safe” at all (“absolute safety”).
His battalion commander, LTC Robert S. Brown of 1/75, had a powerful statement:
Staff Sgt. Avonye Chisolm represented the best of our Ranger leaders. He had an impact on every Ranger in this Battalion through his tireless work ethic, positive attitude and contagious smile. He made us feel like we could shoulder more than our fair share of the task, because he always led from the front. His loss will be felt across the organization and our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.
One hopes his grieving family will find some comfort in the pride they can take in that statement.
And one hopes Chisolm’s soul will find eternal rest.