Cove alum graduates Army Ranger school

By LYNETTE SOWELL

Cove Leader-Press

 

When Shaye Haver walked nto Enrique Herrera’s Copperas  Cove High School classroom as   freshman, he knew she would end up being his battalion commander.

“She was very very competitive, an awesome cadet. Her boyfriendwent off to Texas A&M, and he was my battalion commander the year before that, and he was also very competitive,” Herrera said. “Between the two of them, everything we did, obstacle training, PT, she was competing against him. There was no doubt in my mind she was going to make it.”

Herrera said Haver’s mother called him Tuesday evening from Georgia. “She told me, ‘You know what? I think they scrambled her  brain? The first thing (Shaye) said to me was, ‘Now I want to go to airborne school.’’ I told her no, they didn’t scramble her brain. She’s all pumped up. She wants to keep moving,” Herrera  said.  Of seeing one of his former students go on to excel in such a  way, Herrera, a 15-year teacher at CCISD with more than two decades in education, called it a blessi ng.. “I believe my job is to serve. I believe I was placed in her path for a reason, just like my other kids.”

Today, Haver is making history as one of the first females to graduate and earn their Ranger tabs from the Army’s elite Ranger School. A 2008 CCHS alum,Haver initially had aspirations of going to the United States Air Force Academy, but Herrera said partly due to his encouragement she applied for and was accepted at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. “I told her, ‘Don’t dismiss the opportunity. You have a lot going for you  right now.’ She was an early appointee in November (her senior year), usually you find out in April.  The Army wanted her real bad. Apparently she took off with that.”

Haver is also an Apache helicopter pilot and is currently stationed in Colorado Springs, Col. Haver and her fellow  female graduate, Capt. Kristen Griest are among three female soldiers left out of the 20 who qualified to attend the first class open to women. A third female soldier could be qualifi  d to graduate as soon as September 18 . The two women round out the class of a total of 96 soldiers who satisfactorily completed the grueling course and are getting their Ranger tabs today.

This school’s rotation began with 19 women and 318 men. What Fort Benning calls “highlights” of the course include a physical fitness test consisting of 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, a five-mile run in 40 minutes, and six chin-ups; a swim test; a land navigation test; a 12-mile footmarch in three hours; several  obstacle courses; fourdays of military mountaineering;  three parachute jumps; four air assaults on helicopters; multiple rubber boat movements; and 27 days of mock combat patrols. During the course, students negotiated woodlands in Fort Benning, Ga., mountainous terrain in Dahlonega, Ga., and the coastal swamp at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The 19 women who qualified were whittled  down to eight during the first several days of the course. Those eight initially didn’t make it through the Darby phase, and instead like their male counterparts, were allowed another attempt in what’s called the “Day 1 Recycle.” Doing so lengthened the time span to complete the school. Those in training who go through the  pass the first time usually complete the school in two months. Haver and Griest,  long with others, have  taken four months to complete  the course.

Haver’s and Griest’s families issued a statement via Fort Benning. “CPT Griest and LT Haver are just like all the Soldiers in Class 8-15 – happy, relieved, and ready  or some good food and sleep. Like everyone who will pin the tab on Friday, they are exceptional Soldiers and strong teammates. The families are  sking that you respect their privacy and the privacy  of all the families and friends of Ranger Class 8-15. This is a monumental and joyous occasion for  all 96 Soldiers who will be pinning on the Ranger tab on Friday, August 21.  The journey of Class8-15 has been exciting and exhausting and just as they trained as a team, they wish to celebrate as a team.”

Of one of the  high school’s former students, CCISD also weighed in with an official statement. “We are extremely proud of Shaye Haver and  her recent completion of Army Ranger School. Ms. Haver possessed tremendousleadership skills during  her tenure at CopperasCove ISD,” said CCISD superintendent Joe Burns. “As the Battalion Commander  or the JROTC Bulldawg Battalion she exemplified the commitment and skills needed to succeed in all endeavors. We are excited for Shaye and what her future holds.”

Meanwhile, Chief Herrera looks forward to seeing what’s next for Haver. “I told her, ‘One day, I’m going to see stars on your shoulder,” he said. “I think we will.”   

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