Abbey Completes Ranger School
“If there’s one high-level course in the military that I think I could pass, it’s Ranger School.” That’s the thought MBU student Reagan Abbey had many years ago as he watched a documentary about the Army’s premier leadership and light infantry tactics school.
Little did he know that several years later, he would not only graduate from Ranger School, but he would be one of the youngest and newest soldiers in his class to do so.
An Unexpected Opportunity
Before Ranger School became an option, Reagan planned to return to Maranatha Baptist University for the fall 2019 semester to continue working toward his degree. As a member of the Wisconsin National Guard, the army scholarship was allowing him to continue his education.
But in the summer of 2019, during his basic training at Ft. Benning, GA, Reagan learned about Ranger Team Leader Initiative (RTLI), a program of physical training and classroom lessons from Ranger qualified instructors designed to prepare soldiers for Ranger School. Going through RTLI and the subsequent Ranger Training Assessment Course (RTAC) could earn him a slot in the U.S. Army Ranger Course even though he was fresh out of entry-level training.
A Slot in Ranger School
Earning a slot, however, is no easy task. 30 junior-enlisted soldiers would begin the program, but only five would earn a shot at completing the Ranger Course. Reagan had to pass a Physical fitness test, water survival test, timed ruck march, and several written tests to even be considered for the Ranger Course. “Through God’s blessing and strength, I was one of those five,” says Reagan.
For Reagan, the opportunity to go to Ranger School couldn’t have come at a better time. Considering his goal of becoming a commissioned officer through ROTC, Ranger School was another goal somewhere in his future. But he didn’t expect it to come so soon. However, Reagan says, “being able to complete the course right after basic was great because I didn’t have any major life responsibilities to worry about while in school.”
A Black and Yellow Tab
After Basic Training, Ranger School was on the docket for the fall of 2019. But earning a slot wouldn’t automatically get him the black and yellow Ranger shoulder tab. He would go through 62 days of grueling training to prepare him for close combat and direct-fire missions. In addition, he would be training alongside soldiers with years of seniority and experience. “As a Private first class, going to the top-tier military training school alongside senior, high ranking members of the military, with years of experience, was pretty daunting” he says. Even though many of the Ranger candidates had years of military experience, only 44 of the beginning 294 candidates completed the training.
Reagan was one of those 44, and he earned his Ranger Tab.
A Lesson Learned
When asked about his experience in Ranger School and what he learned, Reagan said the training not only taught him how to be a better leader and teammate, but it also showed him some of his own strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s easy to get focused on your own goals, your own interests, and your own Ranger Tab due to the high-stress, high-intensity environment that Ranger School is,” he says. “In the end though, your buddy earns your Ranger Tab and you earn his.”
A Leader Returning to Campus
Reagan has returned to MBU for the spring 2020 semester to continue his education. He plans to complete a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Criminal Justice and Military Science. He also plans to become a contracted ROTC cadet and a commissioned officer upon graduation. After that, he wants to work as a police officer and eventually join a SWAT team or special unit as a long-term career.
As he returns to MBU for the Spring semester, Reagan says he wants to bring the lessons he learned in Ranger Training back to campus with him. “Above all, I want to bring back the leadership skills I learned while in the school. At times, I had to sacrifice for my subordinates and at times my subordinates sacrificed for me and I had to be a leader deserving of their hard word…. I hope to return to MBU as a better leader, teammate, and teacher than when I left last spring.”
Congratulations, Reagan, on this incredible accomplishment!