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Two women, hailed as pioneers, set for historic Ranger School graduation

Posted at 12:01 PM, Aug 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-20 12:01:12-04

After completing weeks of grueling physical training across woods, mountains and swamplands, two women have made history: They will be the first to graduate from the Army’s exhausting Ranger School.

When Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver receive their Ranger tabs, it will be “a monumental and joyous occasion” for them and the other 94 students graduating with them, a family statement issued Wednesday said.

The women are exhausted, but they’re “happy, relieved, and ready for some good food and sleep,” the statement said.

The two women — hailed as pioneers for passing the course in the first year the Army has opened it to women on a trial basis — have yet to speak publicly about their achievement.

But there’s no question they’ve earned the tabs that will be pinned on them.

The Pentagon describes Ranger School as “the Army’s premier combat leadership course, teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead Soldiers during small unit combat operations.”

The current class started in April at Fort Benning, Georgia, with 381 men and 19 women. The students were forced to train with minimal food and little sleep and had to learn how to operate in the woods, mountains and swamplands.

Students also had to undergo a physical fitness test that included 49 pushups, 59 situps, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes, six chin-ups, a swim test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march in three hours, several obstacle courses, four days of military mountaineering, three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters and 27 days of mock combat patrols.

By the end of the 62-day course, 94 men and two women met all the requirements.

It’s not clear what awaits the female graduates, however.

Unlike the male graduates, the two women can’t apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations force.

The Pentagon isn’t expected to make final decisions about exactly what combat roles women will be allowed to fill until later this year.

Both Griest and Haver graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York — the former in 2011 and the latter in 2012, according to Kimberly A. McDermott, communications director for the West Point Alumni Association.

Griest was picked as the distinguished honor graduate of a course run in December to prepare soldiers for Ranger School, according to a Facebook post by her reported unit, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

“The Army announced earlier this year that it would begin allowing females to attend Ranger School, and 1LT Griest is well on her way to making history!” it said.

CNN’s Barbara Starr, Holly Yan, Eugene Scott and Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.