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  LTC Max F. Schneider: 5th Ranger Battalion Commander:    Click here for 5th Bn History

5th Ranger Patch

          5th Ranger Bn Patch provided by Jerry Styles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cpt Schneider

Photo provided by Jim Schneider

 

 

 

 

 

           Maj Schneider

                         Photo provided by Jim Schneider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COL Schneider

Photo provided by Jim Schneider

Lieutenant Colonel Max F. Schneider was the only man 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 only senior 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 (Ferguson) Schneider.  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 Maneuvers”.  Upon 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 European combat.

 Max, now a 1st LT in the 34th Division at Ft. Dix, served as Adjutant for the 2nd Btn,  168th Infantry.  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 European continent.

Letter from Max Schneider

Portion of a letter from Max Schneider from Jim Schneider's book, My Father's War

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-  Day invasion.  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 Normandy.  In 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 certain disaster.  

A quote from Jim Schneider

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 providential.

 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 Benning, Georgia.

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.