FORT POLK, La. – There is a line in the Army Ranger Creed that states, “Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.”
For 1st Lt. Addison Lufkin-Collier, an armor officer assigned to B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, that quote is more than just a line from a creed — it has become part of the 24-year-old’s personal mantra.
“As a lieutenant graduating from ROTC, I chose the armor branch because I thought it was unique,” said Lufkin-Collier, a Vancouver, Washington native. “There is a light and a heavy side. Each side offers different opportunities and career paths.”
Serving in an infantry brigade combat team means that Lufkin-Collier gets first-hand experience on the light side of the armor branch.
After graduating the armor basic leader course, Lufkin-Collier reported to Fort Polk in September 2019.
“I was excited about coming to an IBCT,” Lufkin-Collier said as she smiled. “When I graduated armor school, Ranger school felt like the next step in pushing my career forward.”
When the 10th Mountain Division Light Fighters school came to Fort Polk earlier this year, Lufkin-Collier seized the opportunity to attend the Pre-Ranger course.
Her first day of Ranger school was March 1.
“Ranger school is interesting as any branch can do it,” said Lufkin-Collier. “Success in Ranger school also fully relies on the individual and their desire to attend.”
Lufkin-Collier recently returned to Fort Polk from Fort Benning, Georgia, where she graduated June 23 after completing four months at one of the toughest courses in the Army — Ranger school.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, recent graduations from the course have been limited by social distancing requirements, allowing only essential personnel to attend the ceremonies.
Ranger school is a leadership school; candidates are not only tested on their technical know-how, but they are evaluated on how well they lead a platoon of their peers through the different phases. The course is broken up into three phases: Benning, Mountain and Florida.
During the 21-day cycle of Benning phase, candidates are tested on their physical stamina and mental resolve.
“My biggest lesson was endurance,” said Lufkin-Collier. “The hardest part about Ranger school is that it keeps going. You’re always being tested; you’re always being assessed.”
During the Mountain phase, Ranger school students spend three weeks in the northern Georgian mountains learning how to lead their platoon on continuous combat patrol missions across backbreaking terrain.
The Mountain phase, which some consider the most challenging phase, turned out to be just as troublesome for Lufkin-Collier. She ended up being recycled, meaning that she had to restart that phase. It may have been easier to quit, but Lufkin-Collier was determined to continue with the course.
“There is this idea of pushing forward despite a mounting desire to stop,” Lufkin-Collier said. “There are a lot of times when you notice everyone is just as miserable as you are, and then you realize that you’re not alone.”
Although graduating Ranger school is an individual achievement, teamwork is required in order to graduate. Being around her fellow leaders and observing how they led was the best part of the 61-day course, said Lufkin-Collier.
“You get to see a lot different leadership styles and how people utilize them,” Lufkin-Collier said. “You build a lot of really good relationships with your peers and other fellow leaders, which makes for good memories and working relationships.”
Lufkin-Collier was recently moved to B troop after her return to Fort Polk, where she has assumed command as the rear detachment commander. The current troop commander is in New York training future officers attending the 2020 U.S. Army Military Academy – West Point, cadet summer training program.
When the mission is over and everyone returns from West Point, Lufkin-Collier will serve as a platoon leader within the troop.
“I’m looking forward to being a PL,” Lufkin-Collier explained. “I am excited about our upcoming gunnery. It will be my first real experience going through gunnery with vehicles other than tanks, and I’m looking forward to learning from and leading my Soldiers.”
In the meantime, Lufkin-Collier is using this time to inspire troops to experience new things and take advantage of as much special training as possible.
“The biggest thing I can bring back from Ranger school is motivation for Soldiers to realize there is always more they can do to shape their careers,” Lufkin-Collier said. “Everyone has the potential to do more than expected and go further than they ever imagined.”