Female U.S. Army captain from Orange making history

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WOODBRIDGE – For U.S Army Capt. Kristen Griest, of Orange, becoming one of the first two women to pass the rigorous Army Ranger test is just the first step in battlefield equality.

“I do hope that, with our performance in Ranger School, we've been able to inform those making decisions that we can handle things mentally and physically on the same level as men,” said Griest of woman who want to be in the military.

Capt. Kristen Griest, West Point Class of 2011 (West Point Flickr)

Capt. Kristen Griest, West Point Class of 2011 (West Point Flickr)

Griest is a native Nutmegger, and graduated from Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge in 2007.

But as women, Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, the other woman to pass Ranger School, are still unable to join the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, which specializes in raids and airfield seizures. That’s discrimination, Amity High School’s principal.

“He said women are just as strong as men and women can do it just as well,” said Principal Anna Mahon, the first-year principal who was Griest’s English teacher her senior year, of her son's reaction to the news. “It's people like Kristen who are going to help continue that mentality for future generations.”

Many students, even those well into college, have trouble identifying what career path they’ll take when they grow up. But, Griest, 26, knew her path by her freshman year of high school.

“Her freshman English teacher had her do a biography presentation and hers was about a military leader and Kristen dressed up in full military garb,” said Mahon.

At Amity, Griest competed in distance running and throwing events, which is an unusual combination unless you’re preparing for the versatility West Point demands and the mind games Ranger School can play over 62 days.

“She's just a very intelligent person, but a learner and somebody who goes after what she wants in life,” said Sean Mahon, the husband of the principal and Griest's former coach.

Griest will be among 96 soldiers pinning on the Ranger tab in a special ceremony at Ft. Benning, Georgia on Friday.

Senior military officials told the Associated Press women will likely soon be permitted to serve in most front-line combat jobs, including special operations.