FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Oct. 6, 2021) – Army Ranger School is a tough test for enlisted Soldiers and officers, and its completion brings immediate satisfaction. As for the long-term benefits of choosing this path, consider the impact of those who graduated and went on to progress in their careers.
Capt. Sara Roger, aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, graduated from Ranger School in 2019.
She said the most significant influence on her decision to make Ranger School a cornerstone of her Army career came from the Rangers themselves.
“The biggest thing for me is the Rangers Creed. It’s the most inspirational piece of Army work. There’s just something about that creed that makes you want to live it – mind, body, and spirit,” said Roger
Her favorite line of the creed is: “Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight, and I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be.”
“This speaks to me because it’s not only what it takes to get through school, but to get through life,” she said.
Roger said she didn’t get through Ranger School on her first attempt. In fact, it ended abruptly in 2015 when she didn’t complete the required number of push-ups in the Pre-Ranger Course.
She said failure only happens when you give up on your goal. But she decided that goal could wait as she focused on developing as field artillery officer intending to return to Ranger School when the time was right.
Along the way, battalion commanders expressed their belief in Roger’s ability and encouraged her to make another attempt at Ranger School.
Her second attempt happened in 2018 despite working a schedule that didn’t allow her to physically prepare. Instead, her unit did a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, and she subsequently attended Jumpmaster School.
Following that, she returned to Fort Benning, Georgia, for her second go-round with the Pre-Ranger Course. Although she didn’t feel ready, Roger said it’s amazing what a determined mind can get the body through.
Successfully completing that step, she continued into Ranger School. Having grown up in a southern state, Roger did well in the first two phases and eyed graduation before the worst of winter arrived. Instead, she was recycled in the Florida phase and had to endure her classmates’ graduation while she waited for a new class to start following holiday block leave.
“It was a blessing in disguise as I needed to grow more mentally and humble myself as a leader,” she said. “That’s what Ranger School is about -- being a leader and making leadership decisions.”
As she rested and built her mental and physical strength for another attempt, she drew upon her mother’s optimistic attitude. Roger said her mother, retired Staff Sgt. Rosalind Roger, was her hero growing up. Since age 4, Roger resolved to follow her example and serve in the Army.
“I attribute much of my inspiration and strength to her,” said the captain.
Pressing on toward a successful Florida finish, Roger learned to push harder but also to empathize with others when they struggled to meet a goal.
“I tried to be a better Ranger buddy and a better leader,” she said. “It was definitely hard (because) you want to be done, but you have to keep your head in the game.”
Roger said Ranger School taught her to draw on the strengths of others. As an artillery officer, she said her infantry squad tactics weren’t the best, but she had a lot of infantrymen in her platoon.
“What it taught me was how to receive the good ideas from others, then figure out which one I was going to go with and then own that decision,” she said.
Roger said her graduation celebration was brief, but her mother and a number of friends attended it.
For those considering their own attempt at the Army’s premier leadership school, Roger implored Soldiers to go for it.
“It will be the most challenging time of your life, but for me it was one of the best experiences of my life. You will only get better if you choose to. If it’s something you want to do, figure out your why, and don’t let anything stop you. For me it was the Ranger Creed, and making my mom proud,” she said.
As for how to succeed, she advised Soldiers to train for the Ranger assessment phase. It consists of the Ranger Physical Fitness Test, the combat water survival test, a 12-mile ruck, and land navigation.
“If you train your body to get through those events, and if you train your mind to not give up, it’s just a matter of applying the effort and refusing to quit,” she said.