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First female Army Ranger recalls training experience

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KXRM) – Army Ranger School is described as the Army’s premier combat leadership course. Last April, 381 men and 20 women challenged themselves to the grueling process but only 96 graduated.

First Lieutenant Shaye Haver was among the few accepted into the first gender integrated training program and by the end she was the first woman to ever earn the prestigious black and gold Ranger tab.

“The difficulty is very much worth the reward,” said Haver.

The West Point graduate is just one of two women to complete Army Ranger training, an intensive program that teaches students how to lead despite fatigue, stress and hunger.

“It’s very difficult,” said Haver. “It’s not for everyone. It definitely put me to my physical, mental and emotional limits.”

Students had to train in the woods, mountains and swampland’s and undergo a physical fitness test that included 49 push ups, 59 sit-ups, a 5 mile run in 40 minutes and a 12 mile foot march in three hours. But, that wasn’t the toughest part.

“Learning how to motivate people in those situations, learning how to lead. knowing inside and out the task that you have learned in small unit tactics that have gotten you to that point and just applying them in those situations to motivate people to get there, that’s difficult,” said Haver.

So why go through it?

“For me, it was the ground soldiers,” said Haver. “For me, it was being competent enough for someone to eventually follow me into battle.”

As a woman with nearly 400 men training alongside her, Haver says the military’s gender issue is a work in progress.

“Going through the course that I did and building the relationships that I did, I think helped bridge a little bit of a gap and maybe ease a little bit of their worries,” said Haver. “When it boils down to it, it’s really the right soldier for the right jobs and that doesn’t include a gender.”

Staff Sergeant Michael Calderon graduated top of the training class and added that women in the Ranger program met all the required standards.

“There was a standard to be upheld and that standard was met by all graduates,” said Calderon. “Ranger training brigade made it very easy to answer honestly that there’s no change in standards.”

Haver says she hopes her hard work will pave the way for more women in the military.

“I do realize the impact that it has had,” said Haver.  “It’s been overwhelming and really humbling. Moving forward, I hope that it inspires people to go.”

Haver serves as an AH-64 Apache pilot but says she hopes to continue challenging herself in any way.

For a complete list of the Army Ranger physical training requirements that must be met in order to graduate, click here.