Anyone who knew him would recognize this Schalavinism, "Hey, paratrooper-Ranger. You my hero!" And, anyone who knew him would know that he was the real hero. Ranger Schalavin was the epitome of a Ranger and the consummate soldier and NCO: a warrior, teacher, mentor, and friend to many. Sadly, he died on November 27, 2015, at the age of 77 in Anchorage, AK.
Command Sergeant Major Schalavin was born in Varalja, Hungary, on Feb. 20, 1938. He walked out of Hungary in 1956 at 18 after the Soviet Union ordered its troops to crush a rebellion there that October, eventually ending up in Lititz, PA. He began a life-long military career by enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1959. After basic training, he was assigned to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, then the 173rd Airborne Brigade, 1-36th Infantry and 3rd Armor Division. Ranger Schalavin served a tour of duty in Korea, 2 in Germany, and 3 in Vietnam, none of which he ever completed because he was evacuated for wounds each time before his tour was over. During this time, Jan also served as an instructor at the Mountain Ranger Camp in 1968 and from 1970-71 with a tour as a Ranger Advisor to South Vietnamese Ranger units between them.
Jan was also the initial First Sergeant for Company C, 2nd Ranger Battalion. He then served as Sergeant Major of the ROTC Program at Southwest Missouri State College, Command Sergeants Major of the 1st Ranger Battalion, the 173rd light Infantry Brigade (Sep), the Infantry School, and finally the 25th Infantry Division. During 1979-80, he trained with and was a member of Operation Eagle Claw-Evening Light-Rice Bowl, one of Delta Force's first missions to attempt to rescue the 52 embassy staff held captive at the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran.
CSM Schalavin retired in 1993, after serving his country proudly for 35 years. Not one to do anything half-heartedly, Jan earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Alaska-Anchorage after he retired. He was also an avid hunter and fisherman. One of his fondest memories was of a hunt on Kodiak Island where he bagged a huge Alaska Brown bear.
Jan was a father, grandfather, leader, mentor, and the best kind of friend a person could ever have. He was a very funny man with a wonderful sense of humor who touched many people's lives over his lifetime. He will forever remain in the hearts of those he touched. He was, and will always be, one of the great Rangers to pass through the doors. Rest in Peace, Jan.