Two women complete elite Ranger school for first time

FT. BENNING, Ga. — Two women are in the spotlight Thursday for some good news.

1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Fort Carson and Capt. Kristen Griest are the first women to make it through the Army’s grueling Ranger school.

Of 400 people, including 19 women, they are two of 96 people to make it through the school.

It’s a long training program with intense physical and mental challenges to make them into one of the Army’s elite fighting forces.

Some go multiple times and still don’t get through, making this accomplishment that much more impressive. It also opened back up the debate over women in combat.

Both women learned a lot about themselves through this training.

“I just came here to try to be a better leader and improve myself and I feel like I did that and for other women who have that same goal in mind, just keep that goal in mind,” said Griest.

“Graduating with these guys here next to me and the 90-plus other students that will graduate tomorrow will probably be one of the best days of my life,” said Haver.

They didn’t coast through this school, as they impressed their male peers on several occasions, including finishing ruck marches.

“Well ahead of 60 other men that didn’t even complete the ruck march and so right then and there that’s what validated it for me and saying these women are for real,” said Ranger Chris Carvell.

Havers even volunteered to take extra weight during one of the marches.

“Shaye was the only one to volunteer to take that weight. She took the weight off of me, she carried it the last half of that ruck, literally saved me. I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now if it weren’t for Shaye, so from that point, no more skepticism, I knew she was going to make it straight through,” said 2nd Lt. Officer Mike Jenowski.

It’s that grit they hope changes the mind of the Pentagon when they decide on whether or not to allow them into combat.

“With our performance in Ranger school we’ve been able to inform that decision as to what they can expect from women in the military, that we can handle things physically and mentally on the same level as men,” said Griest.

They have a message for other women who want to do what they have.

“I hope they come with a strong mind, because that’s what it takes to get through here, just like everyone else here had to do to get to tomorrow,” said Havers.

Graduating from Ranger school doesn’t mean they’ll get to be Rangers in combat. The Pentagon is expected to make a final decision on women in combat sometime later this year.

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