Meet the First Ever Female Soldiers to Graduate From Ranger School: 'I Was Thinking of Future Generations of Women'
These two women are making history by becoming the first female candidates to ever complete the Army's grueling Ranger School.
Capt. Kristen Griest and Lt. Shaye Haver went through the 120-day school to emerge as elite military leaders, according to The Washington Post. They graduate on Friday.
On Thursday, sitting beside men who had also completed the grueling training, they spoke out about their incredible achievement and how they were determined not to give up.
"I was thinking really of future generations of women that I would like them to have that opportunity so I had that pressure on myself," Griest said. "And not letting people down that I knew believed in me, people that were supporting me."
The men also revealed how their initial skepticism about the women quickly turned to admiration. One of the men, 2nd Lt. Michael Janowski, credited Haver with saving him on the course.
He recounted walking across mountains and how he started to struggle with the weight he was carrying.
"So I stopped and asked at the halfway point, ‘Hey, can anyone help take some of this weight?’" he said. "A lot of people were like, 'I can’t take any more weight.'"
That's when Haver stepped in. She took the weight off him and carried it for the last half of the hike.
It "literally saved me," he said.
"I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now if it wasn’t for Shaye," he added.
The women said they were determined not to give up.
Haver added: "Seriously considering quitting throughout the course? I think I would be crazy to say if I didn't. But the ability to look around to my peers and to see they were sucking just as bad as I was, kept me going."
Their assignments required everything from basic calisthenics like chin-ups and push-ups to an exhausting 12-mile road march through Fort Benning’s hills while carrying a full combat load.
They also withstood harsh weather conditions, sleepless nights and simulated combat patrols which are designed to test their reaction time and teamwork under fire.
The day before their graduation, the women spoke for the first time since finishing the Ranger School. They discussed their achievements as well as the grueling process to earn their tabs.
Griest, a military police officer from Orange, Connecticut, and Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot from Copperas, Cover, Texas, were among a group of 20 women who qualified to attend the first gender-integrated Ranger School in April and became the only two to complete it.
The women, both in their mid-20's are former athletes and West Point graduates. They will graduate on Friday along with 94 men from the school in Fort Benning, Georgia.
“It’s probably going to be one of the highlights of my life,” said Lieutenant Haver.
During the media panal on Thursday, one of the male Ranger graduates told the story of a 12-mile ruck march where everyone carried 50-pound packs and the women finished well ahead of many of the males.
The rest of the male soldiers nodded as the story was told, one soldier said: "They beat me."
Unlike the 94 men who will graduate Friday, the two women won't be allowed to apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, the elite Special Operations force.
Women were admitted to the course just this year in a one-time assessment of the program to determine how to open combat jobs to women after the Defense Department ordered that all occupations be open to women beginning in 2016, according to NBC News.
The Army took to Facebook to congratulate all of the upcoming graduates:
This graduation marks a significant milestone for allowing more women involved in military combat roles.
"I think the battles that we won were individual. And the fact that at each event we succeeded in, we kind of were winning hearts and minds as we went. But that was more important to us, becoming teammates with our Ranger buddies that we're graduating with tomorrow," Haver said.
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