Army Chaplain Completes Ranger School at Age 41

U.S. Army Chaplain, Capt. Ryan Mortensen, assigned to 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 25th Infantry Division, meets with local school children to learn about the difference in American and Thai culture during a humanitarian aid mission in Lopburi province, Thailand, Feb. 16, 2015. The mission was carried out as a part of the joint-training operation Cobra Gold 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock/Released) Cobra Gold 2015 150216-A-SE706-168

Army Chaplain Completes Ranger School at Age 41
By Debbie Gregory.

Army Chaplain Completes Ranger School at Age 41

By Debbie Gregory.

Capt. Ryan Mortensen is the kind of person who loves a challenge. The 41-year-old is one of only 1,600 chaplains in the U.S. Army, and he is now one of only 20 chaplains who have completed the rigors of Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Mortensen called his accomplishment “a small miracle.”

He joined the Army Reserves while serving as a school teacher in Saipan, 120 miles north of Guam. He earned his master of divinity degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

When Mortensen and his family, wife Erin, sons Elijah and Micah, and daughter Isabella were stationed at the Army’s Schofield Barracks, he came into contact with soldiers wearing the Ranger tab, and he started asking questions.

They told him to forget attempting Ranger School at his age.

“Any time somebody tells me I can’t do something, I get a little bug in my head thinking I can do it. Once I learned the Rangers were the elite of the elite, it really got my attention.”

Mortensen had to fight for permission to carry a weapon, which chaplains aren’t normally allowed to do. But he prevailed and was allowed to enroll in the school.

Ranger school is challenging to hopefuls half Mortensen’s age. Asked if he ever wanted to quit, Mortensen said:

“No, but did I ever pray that God would let me have an accident, break a foot and go home honorably? Yeah.”

Fast forward two years, when Mortensen got the word that he needed to head to Fort Benning. He had a graduation ceremony to attend. His own!

His first call, late at night, was to his family in Hawaii.

Firstborn son Elijah answered the phone.

“He asked if that was me, then asked what was going on,” Mortensen said. “I told him, ‘Daddy got a go; Daddy is a Ranger.’ He screamed, ‘Daddy is a Ranger!’ I heard my other two kids screaming, and Erin ran over and grabbed the phone. That was so special.”

“This is an amazing, eclectic life I have lived,” he said. “Can you believe it? I earned the Ranger tab.”

Now, Mortensen must put his new distinction and the experiences it took to earn it to use.

“If I have the opportunity to use this tab to show the love of Christ and his mercy and giving people hope,” Mortensen said, “I am excited about that.”

More Female Soldiers Graduate Army Ranger School


The number of female soldiers who have graduated from Army Ranger School has just increased to an even dozen, as the most recent graduates join ground-breakers Army Capt. Kristen Griest, Army Capt. Shaye Haver, and Army Reserve Maj. Lisa Jaste.

Ranger School is one of the toughest training courses for which a Soldier can volunteer.

The Army Ranger course is designed to push soldiers to their mental and physical edge. Participants have limited sleep and food while performing exhausting exercises. The physical fitness test includes 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, a five-mile run in 40 minutes, three parachute jumps, and 27 days of mock combat patrols.

The tough standards make sure that only the strong survive, which is why the completion percentage for men is only 40 percent.

The Ranger Course, which was conceived during the Korean War, has changed little since its inception. It has three phases: Benning Phase of Ranger School is designed to assess a Soldier’s physical stamina, mental toughness, and establishes the tactical fundamentals required for follow-on phases of Ranger School; Mountain Phase, which focuses on military mountaineering tasks, mobility training, as well as techniques for employing a platoon for continuous combat patrol operations in a mountainous environment; and Florida Phase,  which focuses on the continued development of the Ranger student’s combat arms functional skills. Students receive instruction on waterborne operations, small boat movements, and stream crossings

Women continue to make great strides in the military. Lt. Col. Megan Brodgen assumed command of the 3rd Special Forces Group support battalion, the first time that role had been filled by a woman.

Currently 170,000 women serve in the Army, with 600 women in infantry and armor jobs.

Joining  Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas as the destination for female officers who completed the training standards for infantry and armor are Fort Campbell in Kentucky and Fort Carson in Colorado.

Article written by: Debbie Gregory.

Military Connection: Can Women Cut it In Ranger School?

rangersBy Debbie Gregory.

At, we have been keeping you updated on the opportunities opening to women in the military. We are happy to report on the progress the female warriors undergoing the Airborne Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning.

While it isn’t unusual that a class of 399 soldiers started their 62-day course to become  U.S. Army Rangers, what is unusual is that 19 soldiers were women. This is the first time in the 64 year history of Ranger School that women were allowed to train.

After the first four days, there are 184 men and eight women left.

Capt. Marcelle Burroni, an assigned observer/advisor called this event “historic.” For her colleague, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sun, it was just another day.

“I am an instructor. I am going to instruct whoever they put in front of me just the same,” Sun said.

The training kicked off with “RAP week” or Ranger Assessment Phase, which consisted of candidates meeting the following standard:

  • 49 pushups
  • 59 sit-ups
  • Running 5 miles in 40 minutes or less
  • Six chin-ups

There is no change in standards for women.

Burroni said she was not surprised at the results from the physical assessment and has “no doubt” there will be women successfully complete the course. But for now all eyes are on the women, she said.

“I think the challenge for them is to even show up here,” Burroni said.

That is the challenge for any soldier, Sun echoed.

“It takes a lot of guts to come here and try male or female,” Sun said. “… This is one of the few schools where if you fail, you are out. There is a stigma attached to failure in the Army. If they have the guts to come and try, that is a lot more than I can say for a lot of people,” something Burroni concurred with.

“Not everyone even on the male side of the house has the intestinal fortitude to show up for Ranger School,” she said.

And the statistics don’t lie. Only around 3% of the Army has earned a Ranger tab.

All of the women who started the course had successfully completed a two-week Ranger Assessment Training Course at the Warrior Training Center on Fort Benning.

The training course mirrors the first couple of weeks of Ranger School with the physical fitness test, land navigation and marching.

“The senior leaders of the Army want to set the women up for success, best we could,” Deputy Commandant of the Infantry School Col. William J. Butler said. “We wanted everybody to have a common reference and common framework. That is why we brought all of the women who wanted to come to the course to this pre-Ranger course.”

The most recent test was the Darby Queen, nearly a mile of rolling Chattahoochee County terrain on the far eastern reaches of Fort Benning, presenting 26 obstacles for Ranger School students to navigate.

They will work out of Camp Darby until May 8th, when they will be told if they have met the standards to move to Camp Merrill in the North Georgia mountains. The course concludes at Camp Rudder near Destin, Florida

“We are a long way from whatever decision is made on gender integration in the Army, but this will provide valuable information,” Commandant of the Infantry School Gen. James Rainey said.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor. Rangers, lead the way

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit, the go to site.

Military Connection: Can Women Cut it In Ranger School?: By Debbie Gregory