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First female Air Force airman earns Army Ranger tab

Nearly 300 airmen have earned the Ranger tab since the Army started accepting airmen into its school 64 years ago. But none have been women — that is, until Air Force 1st Lt. Chelsey Hibsch became the first female airman to earn the tab last week.

Hibsch, a former enlisted airman who previously served with the 374th Security Forces Squadron at Yokota Air Base in Japan, pinned on the tab at the Army Ranger School graduation at Fort Benning, Georgia, Aug. 30.

She was eligible to take the Army Ranger Course after she attended the Air Force’s Ranger Assessment Course, which is hosted by the Air Force Security Forces Center and based on the first two weeks of the Army Ranger Course. She also attended the Tropic Lightning Academy at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

Hibsch described the Air Force’s Ranger Assessment Course as “an unmatched learning experience on leadership and followership," and prepared her for Ranger School because it provided an “understanding of how you function when you’re hungry, tired, wet, cold and worse, then you have to lead a team of individuals feeling the exact same way."

“You really find out a lot about your teammates and yourself in these stressful situations,” Hibsch said, according to an Air Force news release.

The Army Ranger Course is one of the most challenging leadership courses offered by the Army, and focuses on small-unit tactics and combat leadership. Approximately half of those who attend Ranger School, which involves three phases of training, pass requirements to graduate.

“Ranger School is truly not for the weak or faint of heart. It speaks well of all those who persevere to find that inner grit and motivation to push through all that Ranger School throws at them,” said Lt. Col. Walter Sorensen, Air Force Security Forces Center chief of training, in an Air Force news release.

“The perspective [that] tabbed airmen earn serves them well when the mission gets challenging and others look to them to find a way,” Sorensen added.

Hibsch has now been assigned to Travis Air Force Base in California, where she will serve as a flight commander in the 821st 821st Contingency Response Squadron.

1st Lt. Kristen Griest and Capt. Shaye Lynne Haver, who both attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, became the first two women to graduate from Army Ranger School in August 2015.

After then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced all military occupations and positions would become open to women, the two were among the Army’s first female infantry officers.

More recently, Army Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelly became the first female enlisted soldier to graduate Ranger School in August 2018.

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