In a Historic First, a Female Soldier Graduates From the Army’s Sniper School

( – In 1948, President Harry Truman signed the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act, legislation that allowed women to join the military and receive permanent status. Even so, they were only allowed to fill non-combat roles until that all changed in the 1970s and beyond. There were many historical firsts for women in those decades, and now there’s another one to add to the history books.

In November, US Army Sgt. Maciel Hay passed the sniper course at Fort Moore, Georgia, becoming the first active-duty woman to do so. She currently serves with the 173rd Airborne Brigade as a cavalry scout, an important position that gathers information about the enemy and reports to the commander.

Hay says she “grew up shooting” a variety of weapons on the ranches her family owned in California and Oregon. That and her ability to “find things really fast, similar to how a sniper does target detection,” led to her earning the nickname “sniper.” Hay says she had a desire to live up to the monicker, and that brought her to the Army. She put in her time and eventually made it to sniper school, which isn’t easy to get into. There are stringent requirements, a strict selection process, and rigorous training that all students have to pass.

The achievement wasn’t easy for her; there was a lot of practice to qualify, but she had the help of leaders who recognized her potential. Two areas where she struggled most were “rapid target engagement and intelligence reporting,” yet she pushed through and made it through to the end.

Her family flew in for her during the graduation ceremony to help her celebrate the achievement. She is being encouraged to attend Ranger School, but she said she wants to become a jumpmaster next.

For the time being, Hay will be heading to Anchorage, Alaska. There, she’ll be part of the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment.

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