A couple of months ago I wrote about a visit to Tombstone, which was hosting a parade in honor of the Rangers. Tombstone, of course, was fairly crawling with Rangers in the official black uniforms, but one man stood out. Walking down Allen Street an older gentleman was pushing an empty wheelchair. He was dressed in an outdated Ranger uniform consisting of a white western shirt and black jeans – this was the Ranger uniform of the 1970s. He wore a double-action revolver on his duty belt, which was another throwback to an earlier time. I had to say hello.
I walked over in the company of one of my Rangers, Scot Walker, and we introduced ourselves. The Ranger’s name was Dennis Harrington. He said he was originally a member of the Tombstone Company, but it had disbanded for a time and he transferred to the Sierra Vista company where he remained. He was on his way to Fourth Street for a big group photo at the museum and I asked if he wished to sit in his wheelchair and I would be happy to push him. He politely declined, saying he would rather walk, and I thought that this attitude was probably behind why he was still a Ranger at an age when other men are happy to sit on a front porch and glare at passers by.
He was sworn in as a full Ranger in 1978; now he said that he had left the Rangers for a time to work as a contractor in the Middle East, but even allowing for gaps in service, this man served our state for forty years and had been an active Ranger since before many of the current generation of Rangers were even born! That is a level of dedication not often seen in today’s disposable culture.
Ranger Harrington told me he was no longer actively doing duties but was now an “Associate Ranger” and that his sixgun was loaded with dummy rounds in compliance with the regulations that Associate Rangers not carry or wear active duty uniforms. He then said that he did have live rounds on his belt “just in case,” and I didn’t doubt that if things went south he would still answer the call.