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.”