Former Rangers respond to historic graduation

FORT MITCHELL, AL (WTVM) - "Rangers lead the way."

Their motto may have never been truer than it was Friday, as graduates of the famously- grueling Ranger school led the way with a historic feat.

Former Ranger instructor Gilbert Hunter and his Ranger pals remember meeting former president Gerald Ford during their time in uniform, but say Friday's ceremony is evident of how much the times have changed, and for the better.

"Back in my day, there was no way we even had the idea that this could even be a day, but it happened," said Hunter.

In addition to past and present Rangers, West Point alumni came out in droves to cheer on fellow West Point grads Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver, as they paved the way for women to not only enter Ranger school, but complete it.

"A great moment to be here, it's mind blowing, we're proud of these gals, we're proud of all the rangers, they have given their all," said Kathy Silvia, West Point alum.

Before the graduates were pinned, crowds got an inside look at what the men and women endured, with demonstrations of the daring skills they are now capable of; from propelling down high towers, to scaling ropes mid air dangling from helicopters.

"What's great about today is that now the Army can leverage the full potential of all its soldiers," said veteran Sue Fulton.

Throughout the entire process, officials have stressed the fact that no standards were lowered for the women.

"No soldier wants those standards lowered," said Donna McAleer, West Point alum.

Meaning Griest and Haver went through the same 61 days of harsh training, and earned their spot amongst the Ranger school ranks.

While women are still unable to serve in direct action combat groups like the infantry, ranger regiment, or special forces, service women we spoke with say the way these women proved themselves could be the start of even more changes.

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