‘Freedom’s Thunder’ rumbles through Fort Sill
The March 23 death of a Fort Sill soldier on White Sands Missile Range, N.M., served as a cautionary tale at a safety briefing Friday that preceded the 14th annual “Freedom’s Thunder” Motorcycle Safety Rally.
Although he wasn’t mentioned by name during the briefing, news reports identify him as Sgt. Ronald James (R.J.) VanZant, 24, a native of Bartlesville who grew up in Hominy and Yukon. After graduating from Hominy High School with the Class of 2013 he worked in the oilfields before enlisting in the Army on April 7, 2014.
He attended Basic Combat Training while assigned to B Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery, and Advanced Individual Training while assigned to B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery (ADA). He was awarded the military occupational specialty of 14E, Patriot fire control enhanced operator/maintainer.
On Nov. 18, 2014, VanZant was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 4th Battalion, 3rd ADA as a Battalion Readiness Center clerk. In that capacity he deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield and was directly responsible for four Patriot firing batteries’ maintenance and readiness.
On July 20, 2017, VanZant was assigned to 3-6th Air and Missile Defense (AMD) Test Detachment at White Sands Missile Range. There he participated in testing and evaluations of future AMD systems.