JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A U.S. Army Soldier, assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, I Corps, became the first female to re-enlist for the military occupational specialty 19D, cavalry scout, during a ceremony here Wednesday.
Sgt. Kayci Landes, an AH-64 attack helicopter repairer, has been in the Army for five years, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. She will start her cavalry scout training in October.
"I like a challenge," said Landes. "I enjoy spending time in the field. The fact that they spend a lot of time in the field doesn't bother me. I do enjoy the dirty part of the Army, even though I haven't had as much time doing that."
Landes is married to Army Spc. Brendan Stahl-Dugger, a combat engineer assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
"He's not worried about whether or not I can do it," said Landes. "He's just not sure I'll like it."
Landes has four children, including an 11-week-old infant. She waited until the night before her re-enlistment to talk about her new MOS with her children to delay the inevitable list of questions she expected from them.
"I told them a little too early that we were coming to Washington, so I had to deal with questions about Washington for like six months," said Landes.
She is not worried about this change affecting her children because they have grown accustomed to the challenges of life as an Army family. Landes is also trying not to think too much about the attention her decision is generating.
"I'm just doing the job I'm trying to do," said Landes. "I know some people say it's trailblazing, but it's a job people have been doing for a long time."
Leaders from around JBLM supported Landes at her re-enlistment ceremony, and they recognized the historic importance of the event.
"It's quite remarkable for people to want to do something when you're breaking ground," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jack H. Love, 7th Infantry Division command sergeant major. "I think it's really going to take off, but it takes these firsts to make it happen. I'm pumped up."
The Army announced its implementation plan to integrate women into all MOSs in March. New policies allow all Soldiers to serve in any occupational specialty based on their individual capabilities and the needs of the Army.
"An incremental and phased approach by leaders and Soldiers who understand and enforce gender-neutral standards will ensure successful integration of women across the breadth and depth of our formations," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.
The Secretary of Defense's decision in December 2015 opened 220,000 additional positions to women.
"We're not going to turn our back on 50 percent of the population," said Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy. "We are opening up every occupation to women. I think that's pretty historic."