Sgt. 1st Class Janina Simmons became the first female African-American soldier to complete the U.S. Army Ranger School course in April.
“I’m excited. It’s surreal,” Simmons told Connecting Vets about making history. “I’m humbled to be here … 62 days of training and I made it the first time through.”
Rangers are “the best-trained soliders in the world” and they are conditioned to engage in close combat and direct-fire battles. There is a high level of failure in the grueling three-phase program. According to Army Times, about 34 percent of Ranger candidates repeat at least one part of the course.
She posted on her Facebook page about the achievement, writing, “I guess I made history today!! I am so humbled and blessed!!! I will share pictures and stories and flood the timeline but for now I just want the next few days to eat and SLEEP!! thanks so much for the support and love everyone! it’s so appreciated!!! ❤️❤️❤️#RLTW #ByGodsgrace “
Simmons joins the ranks of several women, including Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelly, the first female non-commissioned officer (NCO) to graduate from Ranger school in 2018.
The ranger, 29, wants people to know that they can make it through the course and earn the right to wear the gold and black ranger tab because she was able to do it.
“I need more NCOs to get out there … I have to lead from the front. It’s good to speak from experience,” she said. “When you have soldiers who say, ‘I don’t know if I can do that,’ I can say, ‘”Well, I did it and so can you.'”
According to LGBTQnation, Simmons proposed to her longtime girlfriend after her completion ceremony.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.