These women are determined warriors who have no plans of gaining special recognition or treatment as they set to make history by graduating from the elite Army Ranger School.
There were only two women out of 19 who were able to persevere through the Army’s most difficult training course in the first-ever gender integrated class. These are Capt. Kristen Griest (left), 26 and first Lt. Shay Haver (right), 25.
During the four months of doing the extreme, walking tens of miles with 50-pound packs of gear on hardly any sleep, the West Point trained soldiers will reap the fruits of their labor as they’re set to graduate alongside 94 men at Fort Benning, Ga. this coming Friday.
Although they have not yet been officially named by the Army, their families confirmed the identities of the successful soldiers in a statement on Wednesday. The proud parents implore that they be given some privacy during this “joyous and monumental occasion”.
Their families said, “Like everyone who will pin the tab on Friday, they are exceptional soldiers and strong teammates. CPT Griest and LT Haver are just like all the soldiers in Class 8-15 – happy, relieved, and ready for some good food and sleep.”
“The journey of Class 8-15 has been exciting and exhausting and just as they trained as a team, they wish to celebrate as a team.”
One of the first women to graduate from West Point in 1980, Brenda Sue Fulton, reported to the Daily News that these soldiers just want to get back to work and “don’t want to be singled out”
Fulton said, “These women do not want to be known as women Rangers. They want to be rangers, period.”
Since the women have not received special treatment during the process, the Army Ranger Association said it will not give them special recognition or awards.
The soldiers have trekked through woodlands, climbed mountains and waded through swamps since April 20. They’ve also completed 59 sit-ups, 49 push-ups, and six chin-ups. They’ve also completed a number of task such as a swimming test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march in three hours and a five mile run in 40 minutes. But that’s not all, they’ve also finished four air assaults on helicopters, multiple rubber boat movements, 27 days of mock combat patrol and four days of military mountaineering.
Thirty-six percent of applicants failed in their first four days and only about forty-two percent of Ranger school recruits graduated between 2010 and 2014.
Haver and Griest did not pass the grueling school for the first time, along with about 100 other Ranger recruits. Fortunately, they were given a second chance and they certainly made the most of it. They were able to beat 304 soldiers, who started with them and excelled. Sgt. First Class Tiffany Myrick commented about Haver and Griest and told Defense One, “They didn’t stand out over the male students, they just performed well. They were definitely respected. They were pretty impressive.”
According to her unit’s Facebook page, Griest, a military police officer from Orange, Conn., was the Distinguished Honor Graduate from a Ranger Assessment program in December.
The 716th Military Police Battalion said before she was promoted to captain “Griest represented #TeamThunder well and was one of only five participants to complete the course. Lt. Griest is well on her way to making history! AIR ASSAULT!!!”.
According to her Facebook page, the 2011 West Point graduate speaks Arabic and resides in Clarksvill, Tennessee.
After advising the Ranger school trainees, Myrick shared her thoughts about Griest and said the she is “humble” but “very thorough”. Myrick added, “Griest was quiet, and looking at her, you wouldn’t think she could perform as well as she did. Quiet but very strong and very humble.”
The apache helicopter pilot, Haver, graduated from Copperas Cove High School in 2008 alongside the Washington football team’s quarterback, Rober Griffin III. According to a local paper, the soccer player and cross country runner participated in ROTC in high school, leading her to get a scholarship to West Point. In 2012, she was able to graduate from the military academy.
Chief Warrant Enrique Herrera, her ROTC adviser, recalled the first time he met Haver and tole Killeen Daily Herald about his first impression. Herrera said, “I knew at that moment that three years down the road she was going to become my battalion commander, and of course, she became my battalion commander. I have got nothing but praise for that young lady.”
Herrera added that Haver is “very positive” and determined. In an interview last month, he said that “she knows what she wants, and she’s going to go forward. I don’t doubt that she’ll make it.” According to Myrick, Haver is not afraid to yell at other troops to get them in position and that “she was well respected and that stood out a lot and that also reflected her leadership style as well.”
Another woman who was given the chance to retake the school is still in the process of testing and if she passes, she still wouldn’t be able to graduate by at least September 18.
It’s still unclear if Haver and Griest will be able to serve in elite Ranger units, despite completing the feat of earning a Ranger tab that can aid their rise to the top of the Army ranks. Military officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the women will likely be allowed to serve in most front-line combat jobs. The Secretary of Defense has until next year to decide whether to fully integrate the genders in combat roles or explain why women will be excluded.
Fulton said, “Even after 10 years of war, questions remain about whether women have the physical and mental strength to be top combat leaders. Now those questions have been answered with the Army’s toughest training.”
Watch their journey on this video below:
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