Today Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, yes two bad ass women, can introduce themselves as Army Rangers for the first time in US military history. Ranger school is one of the toughest programs in the military and very few men make it through without dropping out. These two women were determined to live out their dream, despite the inevitable haters.
In a media panel on Thursday they explained what their experiences were like and were joined by their male counterparts to share some stories about how badly their butts got kicked by the women.
One Ranger said that after a 12-mile ruck march with 50-pound packs the girls finished well ahead of most of the men. They stated this was the point in which most of them changed from skeptics to admirers of their classmates. They finally realized having a vagina doesn’t stop you from being tough!
The turning point for 2nd Lt. Michael Janowski was when they were paired together for a long march in the mountains with a lot of weight on each of them. Shaye helped him out in a big way and he says that without it he wouldn’t have made it through. When he couldn’t cut it a woman picked up his slack, not just his laundry.
I was pretty skeptical. I went to school with Shaye and I knew she was a physical stud. I was skeptical of whether she could handle it. I had a lot of weight on me, and I was struggling, So I stopped and asked at the halfway point, ‘Hey, can anyone help take some of this weight?’…A lot of people were like, ‘I can’t take any more weight.’ Shaye was the only one who volunteered to take that weight. She took the weight off me, she carried it for the last half of that ruck.
While the women may have had to work extra hard to be accepted and much skepticism came from outsiders about whether the men would treat them well, if they’d be in danger on a Ranger team etc; they are confident that their team now respects them as equals and has their backs. Addressing those concerns Greist says,
I can say without a doubt that the team that I’m graduating with tomorrow accepts me completely as a Ranger, and I couldn’t be more proud and humbled by the experience.
And because it’s always fun to watch men who doubt women eat a bit of crow, 2nd Lt. Zachary Hagner says of the women,
I was I guess ignorant and assumed that because they were women it would be harder for them, Once I got to know [Griest], I was in no way skeptical anymore. She completely changed my mind, along with Ranger Haver.
He has a similar story to Janowski, after carrying a SAW machine gun for 3 days on his shoulders he reached a point of needing help. He asked if anyone could take it from him and nine men said they were too broken and too tired. Saying that he saw Shaye just as broken she still took it with “almost excitement. I thought she was crazy for that”.
And check out those GI Jane, gender stereotype smashing hair cuts! And I’m over here thinking…