The following was written by Rudy Mac, a Ranger-qualified, company-grade infantry officer serving on active duty in a light unit in the U.S. Army.

By the time most of you read this story, 96 newly tabbed Rangers and their friends and families will be celebrating the completion of one of the most arduous and demanding courses that the Army has to offer. For them, this coming weekend will undoubtedly involve hours of some of the most satisfying sleep of their lives, interspersed with exorbitant feasts of all of the foods that they have been dreaming about, talking about, and listing in their Rite In The Rain notebooks for weeks and weeks.

They will return to their units with a few new skills and a better understanding of small-unit tactics, but more importantly with a new confidence in themselves and their fellow tabbed Rangers. They will be marked for the rest of their careers with a $1.80 strip of cloth that tells whomever they meet that when tested with adversity, pain, and discomfort, they can be trusted to find a way to get the job done and complete the mission. For the first time in history, two women will pin on this badge of survival and perseverance, and you know what? They f*****g earned it. Every last thread of it.

I started and finished Ranger School this year with Class 06-15, although since I neither recycled nor had to endure a winter phase of the course, my tab should probably be just a little bit smaller than the tabs that many of my peers wear. We were the first gender-integrated Ranger School class, starting on April 19th, with 19 female and 381 male students.