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Home : News : News Features
NEWS | Dec. 19, 2022

Soldier Earns Ranger Tab, Airborne Wings, Air Assault Badge

By Maj. Robert Taylor, Idaho Army National Guard

BOISE, Idaho – Pfc. Cooper Hayes has only served in the Idaho Army National Guard for 14 months, but he has already compiled a career’s worth of accomplishments. Over the past 11 months, the 20-year-old has completed the U.S. Army’s Ranger, Airborne and Air Assault schools.

“It’s been a long year,” Hayes said.

Hayes moved from Bothell, Washington, to Boise to attend Boise State University and enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard in October 2021 to help pay for college, where he is a business student.

He took a semester off from school to attend the Army’s 11B infantry school at Fort Benning and was planning on being home in time to resume classes in August, but was offered the chance to attend Ranger School.

“I wanted to challenge myself and be the best Soldier I can be,” he said. “So I decided to take another semester off and go to Ranger School. It sucked in the moment, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life.”

On average, less than 50 percent of Soldiers complete the first phase of the three-phase course, making it one of the Army’s most challenging courses. The course is 61 days and tests Soldiers’ physical stamina, mental toughness and tactical fundamentals.

After earning his Ranger tab, Hayes completed the Basic Airborne Course to earn his jump wings. Earlier this month, he completed the Army’s Air Assault School. Air Assault School has close to a 55 percent fail rate, including a washout rate of 15 percent on the first day.

“Airborne and air assault were great experiences,” Hayes said. “They are both another thing to add to my resume.”

Hayes is assigned to C Company, 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion, Idaho’s only infantry company. He plans to commission through the Boise State University Army ROTC program.