After weeks of rigorous training, 96 people are set to graduate today from the Army’s Ranger School, widely considered one of the Army’s most difficult training programs.
Two of those 96 are women, the first female graduates of the school, and one of those two women is a Texan.
1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, and Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut, made their first public appearances Thursday ahead of their Friday graduation.
“These two soldiers have absolutely earned the respect of every Ranger instructor,” Command Sgt. Major Curtis Arnold told reporters on Thursday in Fort Benning, Ga. “They do not quit and they do not complain.”
Haver is a 25-year-old pilot of Apache helicopters and graduate of West Point. According to the Washington Post, which was the first to publicly identify the two female graduates, Haver is a former cross country runner and graduated in 2008 from Copperas Cove High School.
Haver and Griest became the first women to finish the famously difficult Ranger course after the school became gender-integrated this last spring.
364 soldiers, including 19 women, started the course that began in April.
Second Lt. Zachary Hanger, who attested to how both Haver and Griest would jump in to help carry heavy loads when other male trainees were too fatigued to assist at Thursday’s press conference in Fort Benning, called the women “absolutely physical studs.”
Despite their completion of the rigorous course, something only about 3 percent of Army soldiers accomplish, according to the Associated Press, Army rules still prohibit women from combat.
Those might rules change as soon as this fall, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who said Thursday he will decide by December to open combat positions to qualified women, like Griest and Haver.