SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah National Guard soldier is one of a handful of women who could someday get the chance to become a U.S. Army Ranger, an elite group that currently accepts men only.
1st Lt. Alessandra T. Kirby recently completed a grueling military training exercise designed for the best of the best.
"It was grilling, that's a good word but it was extremely awesome," says 1st Lt. Alessandra T. Kirby of the Utah National Guard.
Lt. Kirby is making her mark, selected to serve as an adviser to a program aimed at integrating women in the U.S. Army Rangers. She was also one of 45 females put through a rigorous course and one of only 31 who made it through.
"During that one week, we had physical tests, obstacle courses, we had knowledge tests as well and it was dynamic, it was very dynamic," she said of the experience.
Lt. Kirby did 49 push-ups in two minutes, and 59 sit-ups in another two minutes. She also completed a five mile run in less than 40 minutes, six chin-ups and a 12 mile foot march in three hours, among other training exercises.
"It's a big part of the military is to be physically ready, and huge part of being physically ready is being mentally ready, emotionally ready and that's one of the trainings that the military is really focused on," says Lt. Kirby.
Now, Lt. Kirby wants to make sure the Army is ready for women like herself who want to take on a challenge that, up to this time, only men have been considered for.
"It's hard for me to see a training or a school not available because I'm a woman, so I don't want to see in the future anybody feeling that way, that they can't do something just because they are a man or a woman. For me, the goal is to be the best solider I can be. When somebody asks me why I want to do this, my reply is why not? Why not?," Lt. Kirby said.
Lt. Kirby, who is also a Platoon leader from A Company 489th Brigade Support Battalion in Spanish Fork, was also the first female to represent the region in a national contest in 2011 called The Best Warrior Competition. She's been a soldier for six years and has already made history as a female in the Utah National Guard.
The Department of Defense is expected to make a decision on the integration of females in the Army Rangers before January of 2016.