Two Soldiers from the 82nd “Providers” Sustainment Brigade graduated from the 82nd Airborne Division’s Pre-Ranger School during an Aug. 28 ceremony.
2nd Lt. Morgan Fowler, a platoon leader for the 8th Ordnance Company, 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and Sgt. Mitchell Weaver, a mechanic for the 127th Quartermaster Company, 189th CSSB, joined 14 fellow Ranger candidates as they took one step closer to becoming Rangers.
The Pre-Ranger School is a 17-day course to prepare candidates for the U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. by providing a curriculum which mirrors the mental and physical challenges of the first two weeks of Ranger School.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Ranger School ever since coming into the Army and this gets me toward that goal and I hope to accomplish the challenges of completing Ranger School and hopefully getting into a Ranger battalion,” said Fowler. “I’d like to continue defending my country as I really strongly believe in our nation’s way of life and who we are. I’m willing to do what I can and do my part to defend that,” he said.
“The school was great and I think it definitely showed you your limitations both left and right and what you can do, both physically and mentally,” Weaver said echoing some of Fowler’s sentiments. “It was definitely a challenge, but you have to push yourself. Mentally it was ‘can I continue to push myself physically’ although your body wanted to shut down. Your mind had to take over and keep you going.”
Fowler and Weaver, while attending the Pre-Ranger School, which has an attrition rate of about 50 percent, took an Army Physical Fitness Test with scoring requirements of 80 percent or more in each event. Along with this, they were required to run five miles in 40 minutes, do six, dead-hang pull ups, navigate through a rigorous obstacle course and swim 15 meters not showing fear or panic during a combat water survival test.
“The obstacle course was really tough and it really made you get out there and face your fears,” said Weaver. “If you’re afraid of heights you will push yourself when your arms can’t work anymore,” he said.
“The cadre that we worked with really took a lot of time in helping us learn what we needed to learn to be successful and they were very disciplined, but fair, which I always thought was right,” said Fowler. “The physical part and lack of sleep were tough to deal with, but we all worked through it.”
Instructors also tested the candidates’ proficiency on things such as troop leading procedures, warning and operation orders, during five days of patrolling.
“It’s all about coaching, counseling, mentoring and evaluating individuals to see who is the best viable candidate for Ranger School and if they’re sitting here (at this graduation ceremony), we feel they’re ready to take on those challenges,” said Sgt. 1st Class Alan Sutton, senior Ranger instructor for the 82nd Abn. Div. Pre-Ranger School.
During the graduation ceremony, the Ranger candidates recited the Ranger Creed and received motivational advice from Ranger and guest speaker, 1st Sgt. Steven Laire of the 82nd Abn. Div.
“You made it this far, so it’s up to you whether you succeed or not. But, if you wish to succeed, you need to find a way to survive. The way I found to survive is to find a way to laugh at yourself no matter how difficult the situation,” said Laire during his opening comments. “Find a way to have mental enjoyment even in the worst of times.
“But remember to treat every exercise as a real mission and as if real bullets are flying. Don’t treat it like a training exercise,” he added.