5th Ranger Bn Patch provided by Jerry Styles
Photo provided by Jim Schneider
Photo provided by Jim Schneider
Photo provided by Jim Schneider
Lieutenant Colonel Max F. Schneider was the
who could lead the 5th Ranger Battalion and ensure
success in the Normandy invasion, so said General Eisenhower
himself. For the
Normandy beach landings, LTC Schneider was the
Ranger officer with prior combat experience – and by this time he
had lots of it. With
the 5th Ranger Battalion preparing to be one of the
spearheads in what was to be the largest invasion ever in the
history of warfare,
General Eisenhower knew that correct leadership was a key to success
in combat, and he wanted LTC Schneider leading his 5th
Ranger Battalion ashore.
General Eisenhower knew that those early, beginning hours of
the invasion force were the most crucial.
Max Schneider had his beginnings in September
1912 in Shenandoah, Iowa where he was born to Fred and Abbie
Max grew up on Elm Street in Shenandoah, participated in sports and
Boy Scouts, joined the Civilian Marksmanship Training program,
played soldier at Ft. Crook, excelled in swimming and diving,
graduated from Shenandoah High School in 1931, and after graduation
attended Iowa State College for one quarter.
The social life quickly trumped academics, and he then went
to St. Louis, Missouri., to learn to be a pilot at the Von Hoffman
Air College. A near
fatal crash in 1933 – a few weeks before graduation - brought Max to
his senses, and he returned to Shenandoah and eventually found a job
with the State Highway Commission.
He held this job until Company E of the National Guard was
mobilized in 1940. Max
married Jacqueline Jones, also from Shenandoah, in 1937.
In 1939, Max was commissioned a Second Lieutenant with
Company E of the local National Guard unit, and his natural
leadership skills began to emerge.
When Company E was mobilized in 1940, the unit of 115 men
spent the first month training at the Memorial Armory in Shenandoah,
then was transported by train from the Burlington Train Deport in
Shenandoah to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana for the “Louisiana
arrival at Camp Claiborne, his Company E fellow soldiers report that
the camp was not completely finished, so the early months there were
spent in construction and finishing the camp wrapped around their
training for combat.
Company E was in Louisiana from March 1941 until January
1942. Following the
Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war, Company
E was transferred to Ft. Dix, NJ in preparation for transport for
Max, now a 1st LT in the 34th Division
at Ft. Dix, served as Adjutant for the 2nd Btn,
His previous training in the “Louisiana Maneuvers” with
thousands of other troops, prepared him for the overseas assignment
which was just around the corner.
The 34th Division shipped out to Northern Ireland
on 30 April 1942, and while some of his E Company friends were
training in Scotland for the campaign in North Africa, Max
volunteered in June 1942 for the 1st Ranger Battalion,
Darby’s original Ranger Battalion, which was forming in
Carrickfergus, north of Belfast.
On November 10, 1942 1st LT Schneider participated in his
first assault landing in North Africa as Commander of E Company, 1st
Ranger Battalion and was given a battle field promotion to the grade
of Captain on the same day.
Max lead E Company throughout all the battles of
North Africa including the Sened Raid in Tunisia for which he
was awarded the Silver Star in March 1943 .
The citation reads, “Captain Schneider displayed courage and
devotion to duty while leading the members of his company in a
frontal attack on enemy machine gun nests and cannon emplacements
which had held up the advance of our forces the previous day.
Captain Schneider's leadership and direction inspired confidence
among the men of his unit to carry on their respective assignments
to the successful ending, which is deserving of the highest praise"
In May of 1943 when the 3rd
and 4th Btn were formed,
Max was named Executive Officer of the 4th Btn and
participated in his second assault landing at Gela, Sicily in July,
1943. Promoted to the rank
of Major in August, 1943, he
continued to serve as the XO of the 4th Btn through the
night assault landing at Maiori, Italy in September 1943.
He then fought through the Chuinzi
Pass battle until that area was taken by allied forces in October at
which time he was reassigned to to England to prepare for the
arrival of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions
which were forming in Camp Forrest, TN for the invasion of the
Portion of a letter from Max Schneider from
Jim Schneider's book, My Father's
In early 1944, Max
was assigned to LTC Rudder as an “extra officer”, and Rudder quickly
recognized the combat experience and the advantages that Max brought
to the planning for the D-
In March of 1944 Max assumed command of the 5th
Ranger Battalion, and in May 1944 Max was promoted to the rank of
Lieutenant Colonel, and on June 5 was placed in command of Task
Force C (665 men from the 5th Ranger Battalion + 2
companies from the 2nd Ranger Battalion)
– responsible for linking up
with the Rangers scaling the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc or
alternatively assaulting the beaches at Dog Green on Omaha Beach.
On 6 June 44, LTC Schneider led
the 5th Ranger Battalion ashore on Omaha Beach at
preparing for this assault Max was involved in all advance planning
on an Army level working directly with the staff of 1st
Army under command of Lt. General Bradley.
On the morning of the assault, as the battalion neared shore
LTC Schneider saw the tremendous enemy fire from rifles, mortars,
machine guns, artillery, and rockets occurring on the Dog Green
landing site to which the 5th Btn was assigned.
He instructed the flotilla to shift to the east about 900
meters, landing most of the battalion in the Dog White beach area
where the enemy fire was not quite so heavy.
In doing so he saved the 5th Ranger Battalion from
A quote from Jim Schneider's book,
My Father's War
By saving the 5th Ranger
Battalion, he was also able to move his battalion resources off the
beach, and secure the beachhead, and lead his 5th Ranger
companies in advance of the following troops – thus saving the lives
of many more troops.
The current Ranger motto, “Rangers, Lead The Way!” had its beginning
in BG Cota’s instruction to LTC Schneider and his Ranger men on the
Omaha beach. LTC
Schneider was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in June 1944
for his decisive actions during the Omaha beach landing.
The 5th Ranger Battalion
Distinguished Unit Citation
earned that day states that the battalion “carried the enemy
position by nightfall,
thereby securing the beachhead without which the invasion of the
continent could not proceed.”
Another General Eisenhower decision which proved
LTC Schneider continued to lead
the 5th Btn in Normandy until August 1944, at which time
he rotated back to the United States.
He completed Command and General Staff College in January
1945, received a Regular Army commission in July 1946, successfully
participated in another
beach assault landing in Korea – his fifth combat beach landing.
He continued with field assignments in Germany, Japan, and
the United States and completed a distinguished career as a Colonel
in the Regular Army.
While serving a second tour in Korea, COL Max Schneider died on
March 25, 1959. He was
buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu,
Hawaii near the ocean from which he made his final beach
assault. COL Max F.
Schneider was inducted posthumously with the inaugural group into
the Ranger Hall of Fame.
His Hall of Fame medal continues to hang around his
photograph in the Ranger Training Brigade hall of honors at Fort
Material for this summary on Max F.
Schneider was provided by David Williams, nephew of COL James Lyle
(a member of Darby’s 1st
Ranger Battalion), Tess Gruber Nelson, Managing Editor of The
Valley News/Essex Independent in Shenandoah, Iowa, and James “Jim”
Schneider, son of Max F. Schneider and author of
My Father’s War
about his father.