Fort Carson soldier earns top honor at Army Ranger school

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a historic class at Army Ranger school that included the first female graduates, one particular student stood out among the 96 soldiers who completed the course.

Staff Sergeant Michael Calderon, a sniper in Fort Carson’s second brigade combat team, graduated with the highest honors after becoming the top graduate at ranger school last August.

Since returning to post, he’s become a bit of celebrity among his peers.

“Lots of questions. ‘How did you do it? How was it? What was the hardest part? Any tips if I want to go?,'” said Calderon.  “Just a lot of future students that need mentoring so it’s awesome to be able to tell them everything I learned there.”

With two women also graduating for the first time in his class, Calderon said it was weeks before he even noticed women training alongside him.

“I’ve said it before,” said Calderon. “You’re too tired and too hungry to care if there are women there. Everyone’s doing the job and everyone’s pushing through.”

Calderon said the hunger was the worst part about the entire experience and eating his military-issued meal was one thing that kept him moving.

“Normally you wouldn’t look forward to that but I would daydream of the MRE in my rucksack all day,” said Calderon.

The rigorous 62-day course makes it especially easy for soldiers to give up and quit, but for Calderon, that wasn’t an option.

“A lot of what kept me going was just remembering that I wasn’t there for me,” said Calderon. “I was there for other people. I was there to learn and be better so that way I could come home and prepare future soldiers to go.”

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