Ankeny Woman Breaks Iowa National Guard’s Gender Barrier
An Iowa State University student who wanted to challenge herself and has opened the door for other women to follow in her footsteps.
Pfc. Taylor Patterson of Ankeny has become the first woman enlisted infantry soldier in the Iowa National Guard. She joined the unit last month after returning from basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia.
According to Iowa National Guard officials, an infantry soldier must complete a grueling 22-week training stint. The drills include squad tactics, close-quarter combat training, engaging with the enemy during warfare, and a variety of other skills.
"There obviously were a lot of guys who didn't think the females were able to do that, but I am like, I am proving it to you," Patterson said, adding that her support system at home and her drill sergeants during infantry school pushed her to succeed.
"The Iowa National Guard needs people who are willing and able to take on the challenge of serving in the infantry," said Maj. Gen. Ben Corell, The Adjutant General who's a native of Strawberry Point. "Pfc. Patterson is breaking barriers for others to follow."
An infantry soldier holds a significant role in the U.S. Army. Five years ago, in January 2016, the military branch opened combat arms -- or "front line" -- positions to women.
According to an Iowa National Guard press release, Pfc. Patterson isn't the first woman to enlist as an 11B infantryman in the unit. She is, however, the first woman to complete the required training. The others were unsuccessful.
Pfc. Patterson is with the Iowa National Guard's Company C, 168th Infantry.
There are approximately 9,000 service members in the Iowa National Guard. Many of the soldiers and airmen train one weekend each month and two weeks and each year.