U.S. Army Ranger who helped plan D-Day invasion dies

Gen. Eisenhower called him "the young Ranger with the big cigar."

Published March 11, 2007

CLEARWATER - Russell "Ranger Russ" Worman, a former Army Ranger who helped plan the Normandy invasion of World War II, died Thursday (March 8, 2007) at home. He was 82.

"He was always in a military mode," said his daughter, Suzanne Batista of Oldsmar. "That's how he saw himself, as running the troops. That's what he always would say to us: 'You need to be a brave little soldier.' "

Mr. Worman was born in Morristown, N.J., and grew up in Mountain Lakes, N.J. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 with the 100th Infantry at Fort Jackson, S.C.

In April 1943, he volunteered for the elite 2nd Ranger Battalion, where he learned rope-climbing and cliff-scaling. In December 1943, he was sent to England, where he trained for four months with British commandos, studying intelligence, map-reading, booby-trap rigging and demolition.

Then he spent two more months in England poring over photos and models of the landing area. Working in Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's office, he helped plan Operation Overlord. Eisenhower even had a nickname for Mr. Worman - "the young Ranger with a big cigar" - because of the Cuban cigars Mr. Worman's father sent him to smoke.

Mr. Worman landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, as part of the first wave of Allied soldiers invading Normandy on D-Day. Of the 540 Rangers in Mr. Worman's battalion, 77 were killed, 152 were injured and 38 were missing in action.

In 2004, Mr. Worman told the Times that he survived uninjured because of speed and luck.

After the war, Mr. Worman worked as a draftsman, a police officer and a volunteer firefighter. He moved to Florida in 1972 and worked until 1983 as a structural inspector for the city of Largo building department.

Batista said her father liked building small-scale trains and soldier models. He used a lead mold and made hundreds of little soldiers that he meticulously hand-painted, she said.

Mr. Worman often wore a cut-off Rangers T-shirt and liked sharp-shooting. He could hit the bulls-eye 99 times out of 100, Batista said.

"When he was a Ranger, he got out there and got things done," Batista said. "I think he kind of lived with that philosophy his entire life."

Mr. Worman was a member of the American Order of the French Croix de Guerre, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, both in Safety Harbor.

Other survivors include a son, Russell, Clearwater; two daughters, Sandra Poots, Spartan, N.J., and Joan Worman, Lake Tahoe, Calif.; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. The National Cremation Society in Clearwater is handling funeral arrangements.