Linville

United States Army Sgt. First Class Zachary Linville, a native of Harrisville, has recently moved back home with his wife, Allie, and their two children, Bently (age 11) and Rhett (age 4), from Ft. Bragg, NC.  SFC Linville will be working at the area Armed Forces Recruiting Office in Parkersburg on recruiting duty for Ritchie, Doddridge and Wood counties.

 

Like many Ritchie County youngsters, Zach Linville grew up a rough and tumble country boy.

He played youth sports and made a commitment early in life to excel at whatever task he attempted, no matter how difficult the path might be.  He ran track – a long-standing tradition for members of the Linville family – and played football, basketball and baseball at Ritchie County High School.

Indeed, to say athletics has been a formative influence in Zach Linville’s life is quite an understatement, for it was his participation in sports that introduced him to his life’s work.  

“When I was a student, I really admired our high school baseball coach, Mr. Dan Vanoy,” he said. “Coach Vanoy really cared about his student athletes, and he always made time for us to talk with him, not just about sports, but about the failures and successes in life.

“One of the things I noticed in his office was a plaque recognizing his service in the United States Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. Coach Vanoy was proud of his military service, and of his time as a Ranger, and he shared those memories with me along with the unit’s motto – 'Rangers Lead The Way!'

"I knew then that I wanted to join the Rangers, too.”

When Linville first decided he wanted to become a Ranger, he had unknowingly set his sights on one of the oldest and most honored branches of Army service.  

Today’s Rangers are the descendants of the ancestral band of frontiersmen who were first selected to join an elite fighting unit organized by Maj. Robert Rogers in the mid-1700s during the French and Indian War.  Rogers wrote the very same 19 standing orders for Ranger operations that are still used today.

While still in high school, Linville visited the local U.S. Army recruiting station and asked how he could become a Ranger. He found out what Vanoy had already told him – Ranger training was highly competitive for enlisted men and officers alike, and only the most qualified applicants could gain admission to the school.  

For the limited number of soldiers who were selected to attend, even fewer completed the rigorous training course and won the coveted black and gold Ranger tab.  

When he received his diploma as a 2005 graduate of Ritchie County High School, Linville already knew he wanted to join the Army, so he held out until he was able to secure an enlistment contract for the Rangers. 

If Linville thought he was finished with schooling when he graduated from RCHS, he was wrong. 

“After completing eight weeks of basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, I was sent for another eight weeks of advanced individual training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, to learn my military occupational specialty (MOS) as a forward artillery observer," he said. "From there, I went directly to Airborne, or “jump” school, for three weeks training at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

“It was the first time I had ever been in an airplane in my life. I got to experience the take-off in a C-130 airplane, which was kind of cool.  But then we jumped out and parachuted to the drop zone, so I wasn’t there for the airplane’s landing. I suppose the plane made it back without me.”

After graduating from Airborne School, he then went to the Ranger Indoctrination Program for another three weeks at Ft. Benning. 

“The training was rigorous, and highly selective," he said. "Our class started with 100-plus members, but we graduated seven from the program. Those others either dropped out or were eliminated.”

Having passed the initial Ranger selection, Linville was temporarily assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Ft. Lewis, Washington, one of the four combat battalions comprising the 75th Ranger Regiment. He deployed with that unit on a six-month trial to Ramadi, Iraq, in 2007.

Having satisfactorily completed that trial period, upon his return to the United States, it was back to Ft. Benning to attend the 63-day Army Ranger School, which is the premier school for individual soldier skills, small unit tactics and leadership development in conducting close combat operations and direct-action raids against enemy forces.  

From there, Linville moved on for an additional eight weeks training at the Army Sniper School, also at the Ft. Benning Infantry Center.  Following completion of sniper training, he was re-classified to an infantry MOS and transferred back to Joint Base Lewis-McChord where he was assigned as a team leader with the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“I served in the Regiment for a little more than four years before being transferred to the 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Airborne Corps, at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina,” Linville said. “In my career, I served four overseas deployments to Afghanistan and three to Iraq. I have participated in 3,000 direct-action raids against enemy forces during those deployments.

“I could not have done it without the training and support the Army provided, and the service of my buddies, who always have each other’s backs. It has been a wonderful career, and I couldn’t imagine my life without the love of my wife, Allie, who has stood by me every step of the way, my daughter Bently and my son Rhett, whom I love so dearly, and my service to my country.” 

Among everything, though, he's happy to be home.

“I’m happy to be back home in Ritchie County again," he said. "I am looking forward to the opportunity to share my experiences and the many opportunities available in a wide variety of occupational specialties to the young people of Ritchie, Doddridge and Wood counties who are looking to make the commitment to serve their country. My recruiter got me started on the right path to achieve my goals. I want to do the same for them, whatever their goals may be.”