Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver spent eight grueling weeks in swamps, forests and mountains in the U.S. Army Ranger training program.
Now, they are the first women to become Army Ranger–qualified, graduates of what’s considered the toughest leadership course in the U.S. armed forces. Even members of foreign militaries vie to obtain the highly coveted Ranger “tab,” or uniform patch.
During a press conference on August 20, reporters asked the women if they ever wanted to quit.
“I never seriously considered it. I definitely had some low points, particularly in the swamps in Florida, but I never actually thought anything was going to be too difficult that it was worth leaving the course,” Griest said.
Griest and Haver, along with 94 men, graduated from Ranger School during a ceremony at Fort Benning, Georgia, on August 21.
“It’s awesome to be part of the history of Ranger School in general, and graduating with these guys next to me … will probably be the highlight of my life,” Haver said.
“Truly, it’s a huge credit for anyone, man or woman, to endure the intense training and curriculum at Ranger School, and to prevail and graduate,” said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. “Clearly, these two soldiers are trailblazers. And after all, that’s what it means to be a Ranger. Rangers lead the way.”
Ranger School lasts 62 days and includes swim tests, a 12-mile march, obstacle courses, parachuting and mountaineering, close-quarters combat and navigation.
The Ranger School falls under the domain of Major General Scott Miller. “The standards have not changed,” he said. Those standards apply equally to women and men.
Second Lieutenant Michael Janowski, who went through the course with the women, doubted they could make it. But a night of training in the mountains changed his mind.
“I had a lot of weight on me and I was struggling,” he said at the press conference. Halfway through the mission, he asked fellow trainees for help and only Haver volunteered. She carried the weight the rest of the way.
“She literally saved me,” Janowski said. “I probably wouldn’t be sitting here if not for Shaye. From that point, no more skepticism.”