1st Lt. Audrey Moton and 2nd Lt. Carley Turnnidge, both West Point graduates, took on the Army’s Sapper Leader Training course for combat engineers at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. It’s one of the toughest combat training courses in the entire U.S. military and the only course of its kind that accepts women. Since 1999, nearly 60 women have made the grade.
Moton at 5’6”, and Turnnidge, barely reaching 5’4”, faced 28 grueling days of physical torture with little sleep or food. But that was only half the challenge. Training alongside 36 larger, more muscular male soldiers, both instinctively felt that as women they had to prove they could hold their own. They did.
Both Moton and Turnnidge passed the course and earned the coveted title “SAPPER.” While it will likely open doors for future promotions and positions of leadership, they have no illusions they’ll ever see ground combat themselves, but believe they’re helping pave the way for other female soldiers in the future. “It sets me apart from my peers,” Turnnidge said, “and over time more women will be able to prove themselves.”
Read the rest of Jim Miklaszewski for NBC News.