KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Defeating the odds, Army Sgt. 1st Class Kalynn Rolon graduated Ranger School Jan. 28th at Fort Benning, Georgia.
With the graduation rate of Ranger School being around 40%, the two-month course is known to be one of the most challenging military schools in the world. During the 60 plus day course, Ranger students push their mind and body through multiple phases that ultimately leads to better trained, more resilient leaders throughout the Army. Roughly 90% percent of Ranger volunteers tend to be males, but women like Rolon, assigned to the 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 30th Medical Brigade, out of Baumholder, Germany, are helping pave the way for others.
Born in Yuma, Arizona, Rolon began her Army career in 2007 and is reaching incredible milestones throughout her Army career. Arriving at her initial duty station in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, her first step was completing Airborne School. Rolon continued on to become a Drill Sergeant in 2018. From there she has now obtained the coveted Ranger tab that many dream of receiving one day.
“Given your demonstrated excellence, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to recognize this significant milestone in your career,” said Maj. Gen. James M. Smith, the commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, during a coin presentation to Rolon. “You are a role model for so many people to walk the path you have chosen in order to emulate your success.”
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, especially once they started letting females into Ranger School,” said Rolon. “I thought that was a major accomplishment for females in the military and I really wanted to be a part of that legacy. I wanted to do it for myself and females in the Army.”
Ranger School isn’t an individual task and it is essential to work as a team to be successful, Rolon went on to say. There are individuals with different mindsets about females being at Ranger School but the Individuals within her squad were very professional. She was blessed with a team that respected her, and she respected them which lead to each other’s success.
Another pillar of support came from leaders within her chain of command and Army Lt. Col. Clint Cobb, commander of the 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 30th Med, wants to provide Soldiers the chance if they are willing to put the work in.
“In general the self-sacrifice involved to step up to the plate on an opportunity is one that very many people don’t get and one thing we’ve communicated across the battalion is if you want to go to school, if you’re looking for an opportunity, let us know and we’ll help you,” said Cobb.
Rolon began training twice a day and studying about a year ago. It took her awhile to pull the trigger but she had to fully commit which meant overcoming the fear of not being ready. She eventually sent in her Ranger packet and expressed that even the day she arrived at Fort Benning she still did not feel ready.
The most challenging part of Ranger School for Rolon was the Mountain Phase. Soldiers were tasked with rucking up a mountain every single day during the winter months.
“I think the biggest take away was a Ranger Instructor who told us if this is the phase you’re thinking about quitting, just quit tomorrow,” said Rolon. “So I thought about that over and over again, I just need to get through today and then I can quit tomorrow.”
For Rolon, that never happened.