FORT HOOD, Texas- There are few things more instantly recognizable in the military than a Ranger tab.

For Staff Sgt. Jamey Murphy, from Jonestown, Pa., an infantryman with B Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, graduating top of his class at the U.S. Army Ranger School was the experience of a lifetime.

"I decided to go to Ranger School because I like being challenged and I wanted to be the best, and I felt that by going to Ranger School was the best way for me to achieve that goal," he explained.

"Ever since I met him, he has wanted to go to Ranger School," said Staff Sgt. Jahir Avilia, Murphy's former platoon sergeant.

Getting to go to Ranger School isn't as easy as just wanting it, though, and Murphy had to prove he deserved it.

"He was one of the best staff sergeants we had in the company," Avilia continued. "Everyday this guy would work out for hours. We would have six to eight hour missions and he would still come back and work out. He was a real 'go to' guy, and I knew he'd do well [at Ranger School]."

Murphy was recognized for his commitment and was offered the chance to attend the 1st Cavalry Division's first ever pre-Ranger course on Fort Hood, Texas.

The two week course prepares Soldiers for what they will encounter at the real Ranger School.

Soldiers in the course prepared physically by enduring grueling ruck marches and physical training, and prepared mentally by spending lots of time studying operations orders and mission planning in a classroom environment.

"I give all the credit to the pre-Ranger course for preparing me," he said. "I wouldn't have been honor graduate without it."

During the three phases of training, Murphy pushed his body to the limit, endured difficult physical training, honed his skills at writing operations orders, learned mountaineering skills and trained on boat and swamp movement.

"I learned how to push my body further physically, mentally, and emotionally," he said. "Despite how beat, broke, or tired you are, you still have to and can complete the mission."

By the end of the course, earning the honor graduate title was the last thing on Murphy's mind; he just wanted to graduate.

"I wasn't going in trying to be honor grad," he said. "I was just putting my best foot forward."

Although the title was a huge honor, the true reward of the course for Murphy was what he found out about himself.

"You learn so much about yourself," he said. "You learn that you can do anything. What you think is hard and what you think is impossible doesn't really matter."

Now that Murphy is back at Fort Hood, he is passing on the skills he learned at school to his Soldiers and continuing to train his body and mind for the next school he hopes to get in to: the Special Forces Qualification Course.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16