SAVANNAH, Ga. – An Apache helicopter pilot from Texas and a military police officer from Connecticut are the first women to complete the Army's grueling Ranger School, families of the soldiers confirmed Wednesday.
Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas, were scheduled to graduate Friday alongside 94 male soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In a joint statement Wednesday, the families of 26-year-old Griest and 25-year-old Haver said the women were "just like all the soldiers" in their graduating class: "happy, relieved, and ready for some good food and sleep."
The two-month Ranger course tests soldiers' ability to overcome fatigue, hunger and stress during combat operations. The Army opened Ranger School to female soldiers for the first time this year as part of the military's push to open more combat jobs to women.
"It's just completely amazing," Chris Haver, Haver's father, told The Associated Press. "I'm super proud. I know a lot of guys that have been through it and tell me how hard the course is. They tell me it's the toughest, most mentally demanding course they've been too."
The Army has not released the names of the two women.
Chris Haver confirmed to The AP that his daughter was one of the Ranger School graduates. Griest's parents did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment. But a defense official confirmed that Griest, a military police officer, was the second woman to finish the course. The official was not authorized to disclose the name publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Both women are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Haver followed in her father's footsteps when she became a pilot of attack helicopters. He said he also served as a career Army aviator who flew Apaches.
Haver's father said she's always been mentally tough and incredibly physically fit. He said she has run marathons and was a member of the triathlon team at West Point.
"She's kind of built for this thing," Chris Haver said.
While the graduating female soldiers have earned the coveted black-and-gold Ranger tab to wear on their uniforms, for now they're still unable to join the elite 75th Ranger Regiment based at Fort Benning.
The military's toughest jobs remain closed to female soldiers. That included positions in infantry, armor and special operations units such as the Ranger Regiment.
Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.