Old 04-23-2004, 05:13   #1
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SFC Randall Oler

Randall Oler passed away last week. He was one of the greatest persons that I have ever known.

Published on: 2004-04-22

Soldier developed Toy Drop

By Henry Cuningham
Military editor

Sgt. 1st Class Randall R. Oler was remembered Wednesday for developing a small Saturday parachute jump into an annual tradition that draws 2,000 paratroopers and provides toys for needy children.

In Operation Toy Drop, soldiers donate a new, unwrapped child's toy on a Friday in early December to be put on the manifest for a parachute jump the next day. People donate toys after spaces run out. Jumpmasters from other countries participate, giving soldiers an opportunity to earn foreign parachutist badges during the operation. The seventh annual Toy Drop will be in December.

Through the initiative of Oler, who was a staff sergeant, Operation Toy Drop grew and now brings together Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, foreign military jumpmasters and the local community, said Col. Michael Rose, chief of staff of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

The 43-year-old soldier was pronounced dead Thursday at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg after he collapsed aboard a C-130 Hercules cargo airplane during a daytime parachute operation. Womack officials said he died of natural causes.

Rose's voice cracked with emotion as he concluded his remarks during a morning memorial service at Northwood Temple Church on Ramsey Street.

Using terms familiar to parachutists, he said, ''I offer up our final report of, 'All OK, jumpmaster.'''

Oler, a native of Morristown, Tenn., was a civil affairs specialist and an operations sergeant assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group. He had served in Ranger and Special Forces battalions.

As a sergeant, Oler was ''credible and incredible,'' Lt. Col. Curtis Boyd, his battalion commander, said during the ceremony.

''Everyone wanted to be around Randy,'' Boyd said. ''You knew something good would come of it.''

During the ceremony, friends recalled their memories of Oler, who frequently had a cigarette in one hand and a Mountain Dew in the other and could get by on two hours of sleep a night. He was a dedicated father and devoted fan of University of Tennessee football. Oler hid a ''very sharp mind'' behind a ''humble country-boy exterior,'' one speaker said. He made folksy cracks such as, ''She was tougher than Chinese arithmetic.''

Sgt. 1st Class Ed McGraw discussed Oler after the ceremony.

''He was a mountain of a man,'' McGrawsaid. ''He was probably 6-4, 235 pounds, and he was just a big, big man.''

After Toy Drop ballooned into a huge event, Oler ''was like Atlas holding up the operation,'' McGraw said.

''He had lots of knowledge that he willingly shared with us,'' McGraw said. ''Some people, information is power. Some people keep the power to themselves, and that was not Randy. Randy always let people know what was going on. He was mission-oriented.''

Like other speakers, McGraw described Oler as a dynamic sergeant who made things happen.

''He could get anything done,'' McGraw said. ''It made no difference. There was no obstacle too large for Randy to conquer. That has rubbed off on all of us. We are a much better battalion for Randy Oler.''

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday in Mayes Mortuary in Morristown, Tenn. Burial will be Tuesday in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Military editor Henry Cuningham can be reached at cuninghamh@fayettevillenc.com or 486-3585.
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Old 04-23-2004, 05:16   #2
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I wrote this tribute to SFC Oler on Paratrooper.net, and felt that it was important to share it here:

I owe most of my success as a Jumpmaster to Randy Oler. As an instuctor, he was the best. As a soldier, he was the most dedicated. And as a man, he was the finest. I was in the "big building" (USASOC, USASFC, USACAPOC) when he was there as the CAPOC training NCO. I was amazed at the hours he worked, because I saw him damn near everyday during the week, and he also ran the jumps and training on weekends for the Civil Affairs and Psyops reservists. I knew him first because he worked nearly every jump that USASOC put on, in addition to the CAPOC duties. I got to know him when he put on the Jumpmaster MTT to Hurlburt AFB (I say he put on, because he put in all of the work behind the scenes to make it happen). I walked into his training office, and said "Hi, SSG Oler. I'm going to the JM MTT and need to get the details before we roll out". The first thing he said was "Call me Randy". Throughout the course, he was the best instructor; not only did he know EVERYTHING, he also knew how to pound that knowledge into thickheads like me. Plus, he'd stay until midnight to help out those students that needed extra assistance. When I remember that course, and then multiply by about 1,000, I can only begin to conceptualize the amount of things he did that made training successful.

Not only was I impressed by his knowledge and professionalism, but by his good naturedness. He was always of good humor, and kept everybody else's spirits up around him. He would also go out of his way to help another soldier. When I needed a night JM to get my star, he hooked me up immediately. When I was chasing jumps for the wreath, he'd say "Sure, c'mon out; I've got a chute (or two) for ya". I also loved the way he carried himself in garrison. He was almost always in shorts and a t-shirt or sweat shirt; rarely did I see him in BDUs. Perhaps he was showing off his knees; he had them HUGE nasty scars that you could spot from 100 meters off. But even though you KNEW he was in pain, he never showed a bad side.

Finally, I was always impressed that he kept jumping. Yeah, he could only do water jumps, but I consider the circumstances. We were in Florida in February, and he jumped. When he got back, he was shivering but you could still tell that he loved jumping (with that sh1t eatin' grin on his face!).

I suppose I could go on and on, but I will end by saying that all who knew Randy Oler are better for having known him. I pray that God takes care of his family; I know that Heaven is a better place for Randy being there now.
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Old 04-23-2004, 06:24   #3
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Seems like good karma to go aboard a C130 during ops, doing what he loved. Fitting.

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Old 04-23-2004, 06:40   #4
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NDD, you have probably put the best perspective on the sadness. Randy passed while doing what he loved. It still hurts, though.
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Old 04-23-2004, 06:43   #5
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I know that Randy passed doing what he loved to do; I feel concern for his family.
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Old 04-23-2004, 07:08   #6
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I am truly sorry for the loss of your friend.
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Somewhere a True Believer is training to kill you. He is training with minimal food or water, in austere conditions, training day and night. The only thing clean on him is his weapon and he made his web gear. He doesn't worry about what workout to do - his ruck weighs what it weighs, his runs end when the enemy stops chasing him. This True Believer is not concerned about 'how hard it is;' he knows either he wins or dies. He doesn't go home at 17:00, he is home.
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Old 04-23-2004, 07:35   #7
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He was a friend to everybody. Perhaps that is why his passing is so painful.

I barely knew him for two years. He was such a friendly and sociable man.
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Old 04-23-2004, 12:29   #8
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Radar Rider's Tribute

Radar Rider,

You have written a beautiful tribute. It is tributes like yours that family members read over and over again to help ease them through difficult days.

You said you posted it on another website. I hope you will print it out, sign it and send it to his family.

It is beautiful and will bring them alot of comfort in days to come.

My sympathies to you, as well.

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Old 04-23-2004, 21:06   #9
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Radar Rider I am truly sorry for the loss of your friend and I hope that your memories will comfort you. May SFC Oler Rest in Peace, his family, friends and you are all in my thoughts and prayers.
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Old 04-23-2004, 21:12   #10
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Radar Rider, I am sorry to hear of your loss.

Blue Skies SFC Oler
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Old 04-25-2004, 19:37   #11
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Knew him but briefly, a great American who will be missed.

RR, condolences on the loss.

RIP.

TR
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Old 04-26-2004, 05:02   #12
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Rest in Peace, SFC Oler.

My condolences to you and his family and friends, RR.
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Old 05-27-2004, 02:42   #13
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I can't recall who said this, but it seems appropriate:
" The tree of Freedom must be replenished from time to time with the blood of true patriots".
I am very sorry for your loss, and would offer you this small thought in his memory:
" We live in a society (Canada & USA) where freedom is our most prized posession. A man may think as he chooses, speak as he wishes, and believe as he desires. It is only through those whom, although they might not agree with what you think, say or believe, will defend to the death your right to do so, that we have these priveleges, and it is they whom we must not only give our respect, but also our unfaltering gratitude."

My most heartfelt sympathy to you and to the friends and family of your comrade at arms.
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Old 05-27-2004, 05:42   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by ChaseQ
I can't recall who said this, but it seems appropriate:
" The tree of Freedom must be replenished from time to time with the blood of true patriots".
Thomas Jefferson
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