Military Officers event: Special salute for aspiring ‘Ranger’


Members of the Indian River Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America honored military officers of the past, present and even the future, at its April luncheon at the Vero Beach Yacht Club.

When retired U.S. Army Col. Carroll Oates, current MOAA board president, learned that Ben Evans, a student at Saint Edward’s School, was interested in eventually becoming an Army Ranger, he and other MOAA members welcomed him into the fold, providing mentorship and counsel.

Oates said that they brought in the A-Team to advise Evans, referencing an esteemed group that included several West Point graduates, a Naval Academy graduate and a former Army Ranger captain.

“We all took time with him,” recalled Oates.

Evans, who is now bound for West Point, was happily welcomed as the newest member of MOAA, whose membership for the next four years was underwritten by the chapter.

Lorraine Holland, vice president of the MOAA Florida Council of Chapters, presented the young JROTC cadet with a Leadership Award commending his hard work.

“Carroll has introduced me to many other veterans. Everybody in the Veterans Council and MOAA has been instrumental in my getting into West Point. More than that, Carroll has been a personal mentor to me. He’s been an example I can look up to and look to emulate when I become an officer,” said Evans.

Guests next turned inward, reflecting on the commendable service of five of the chapter’s past presidents.

Putting them in the spotlight one person at a time, fellow MOAA members took turns sharing the highlights of their comrades’ military careers, chronicling their past services that occurred in a variety of the armed forces and in military conflicts that spanned multiple generations.

Among those honored was retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Eric ‘Rip’ Wieler, who participated in the demonstration of the first hydrogen bomb to be exploded in North America.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Michael Weiss was involved in the establishment of a blood bank operation that included blood processing and long-term storage during the Gulf War.

They told tales of retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. P. Scott Carson, who worked at the Pentagon as a long-range global strategic planner for logistics, where he helped with the buildup for Desert Storm.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Jim Rannazzisi worked first in the National Security Agency and later at Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon, supporting the primary and alternative national military command centers.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Albrecht was the marketing officer for the well-known “Be all you can be campaign,” and he later co-founded the Albrecht Group, which was named by Forbes Magazine in 2017 as one of the nation’s best recruiting firms.

After reflecting on their past experiences, Oates encouraged the MOAA members to stay in touch with Evans as he embarks on his own career as an officer in the U.S. Army.

“I urge all of you to keep an active relationship with Ben. He’s going to need it,” said Holland, commenting that Evans would encounter problems and issues similar to their own.

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Photos by Kaila Jones

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