First Female Airman Earns Army Ranger Tab

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First Lt. Chelsey Hibsch, 821st Contingency Response Squadron, receives her Ranger tab after graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School Aug. 30, 2019, at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army/John Tongret)
First Lt. Chelsey Hibsch, 821st Contingency Response Squadron, receives her Ranger tab after graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School Aug. 30, 2019, at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army/John Tongret)

The first female airman has graduated Army Ranger School.

First Lt. Chelsey Hibsch became the first female airman to earn the coveted Ranger tab on Aug. 30 at Fort Benning, Georgia, according to a recent news release.

Hibsch, a security forces officer assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California, endured the challenging, two-month-long course after competing in the Ranger Assessment Course at Camp Bullis, Texas. Participating in the assessment course prompted her to enroll in Army Ranger School, the release states.

"Lt. Hibsch represents the very best of our Air Force and Air Mobility Command -- determined, innovative, and capable of breaking barriers," Col. Doug Jackson, 621st Contingency Response Wing commander, said in the release. "Moreover, as evidenced by her completion of this rigorous training, she exhibits steadfast commitment to joint teams and partnerships. The entire 621st Contingency Response Wing is proud of Chelsey and her remarkable accomplishment."

Related: 1st Enlisted Woman to Attempt Air Force Special Recon Training Dropped from Program

The Army opened the mentally and physically exhausting course to women in 2015 and, since then, many have broken the stereotype that only men can finish the 61-day combat course to earn the black-and-gold tab.

That year, Army Capt. Kristen Griest, a platoon leader in the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot, graduated from the demanding program, which includes three stages: the Fort Benning, Mountain, and Florida/Swamp Phases.

Each phase requires different types of skills. The Fort Benning portion tests agility and physical endurance; the Mountain phase measures how individuals perform in adverse terrain conditions; and the Swamp section requires members to hone their skills to survive and operate in a jungle and swamp environment.

In 2018, Army Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley, an electronic warfare specialist, became the first female enlisted soldier to pass the three phases. In May 2019, 1st Class Janina Simmons, a drill sergeant leader in the Army's Drill Sergeant Academy, became the first African-American enlisted female to graduate Ranger School.

More than two dozen female service members have graduated Ranger school since getting the green light to attend, according to Stars and Stripes.

Ranger School has a 67% fail rate on average. But airmen have accepted the challenge.

Read more: Two Women Make History by Graduating Army Ranger School

Nearly 300 airmen have earned the Ranger tab since the Army began accepting Air Force personnel into the program in 1955, according to the service.

Some have pushed their limits in other ways.

In 2016, Chief Master Sgt. William "Ryan" Speck, a former Security Forces member, became the first Air Force chief to graduate Ranger school. He was 39 when he earned his tab, with 21 years in the service.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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