Standing out from the crowd in 1979, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Patricia Farwell wore Army green shorts as she completed Ranger School, the first woman ever to do so. Forty years later, she will receive the award of Ranger “Ranger Curator” for her bravery in class 70 by the US Army Ranger Regiment.
Indeed, it was as an ex-military man himself, Jerry Gephart, who initially met Farwell at her graduation ceremony to tell her about her special recognition — “half of this ruck is flapping in the wind and half is still,” he told the Bay Area Reporter, “I said, ‘This isn’t what I expected to see at the end of this program.’” He would later come to recognize her courage. “They were asking the recruits to show them their chins. She did, and I got goosebumps from there.”
The historic graduation has inspired both community service and women’s rights groups. Elizabeth Slattery of Women in International Military Service for Canada, an advocacy group that pays tribute to female service members, explained that this is just the tip of the iceberg. “If I had access to resources in 1959, it would have been easier for me to pass Ranger School and go to Vietnam,” she said. “In 2019, we have more opportunities. But that doesn’t mean we won’t need that Ranger Curator award in the future.”
Farwell’s experiences were what led to her being nominated for the award, but they aren’t the only part of her background that inspires her to use her position to make a difference. During her time in the Coast Guard, she also received a Bronze Star for her efforts to stop a man who was shooting gunballs into pedestrians and cars on a boardwalk in San Francisco. According to the Bay Area Reporter, she was with another woman when they witnessed the man approaching a dark-colored pickup truck and holding a shiny ball with a white dot on the front. “Look where he’s coming from,” he responded to them. They approached him and asked him about the ball. He said it was horseshoes and it had made “a terrible noise.” “Sir, I thought you were armed,” she said, implying he was an outlaw, and that it could have been a case of accident. “You’re not armed,” he answered, “if you want a shotgun, I’ll just ask my buddy.”
Read the full story at The Bay Area Reporter.
Combat job held by women to be made safe for trial by fire
Opinion: Women’s rights group plans to skip Congressional hearing on nuclear weapons