Ranger students, including Kristen Griest, second from left, are shown here on Mount Yonah in northern Georgia on July 14. (Photo by Pfc. Yvette Zabala-Garriga/ U.S. Army)

Second Lt. Michael V. Janowski’s assessment Thursday of how he would have done in Ranger School without the partner assigned to him was blunt: “I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now if it wasn’t for Shaye,” he said.

Janowski inadvertently found himself in the middle of the intense attention paid to his class because he was assigned to be the “Ranger buddy” of 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, who will become one of the first two Ranger School female graduates on Friday. He described a night in the mountains of northern Georgia in July when he was struggling to carry all of the machine-gun ammunition he was assigned, and Haver assisting when other men in their group would not.

[Female soldiers provide their first accounts of making it through Ranger School]

Janowski will graduate alongside Haver, Capt. Kristen Griest and 93 other soldiers. But Janowski has his own unusual tale of attending Ranger School: He battled back to complete it after requiring treatment for cancer two separate times last year, according to a piece published by his brother, Chris Janowski, and widely distributed Thursday.

“I can’t say I’ve ever seen my brother as broken as he was when he was sick, but he did an incredible job hiding how terrible he truly felt,” Chris wrote of watching his brother receive chemotherapy. “I was constantly looking at him, trying to seek out how he was truly feeling, but no matter what he tried his best to hide how hard he was hurting. By week three, he was losing his hair, it was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen, seeing hair fall out like that, without any resistance.”

Janowski’s story is an example of the kind of hardships that can go unnoticed when observing Ranger School from the outside. He did not mention his own trials Thursday, other than admitting he was skeptical at first that Haver could handle the course’s demands because he had seen portions of it twice before he was held back for medical reasons.

[Tenacity allowed these two women to become the Army’s first female Ranger School graduates]

In another challenge for the class, 40 students and four Ranger instructors were hospitalized Aug. 12 following a lightning strike during the course’s third phase at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Seventeen students and three instructors were kept in observation by medical professionals overnight, including one student, 2nd Lt. Anthony Rombold, whose heart briefly flat-lined.

Rombold credited two other students who will graduate — 2nd Lt. Erickson Krough and Spec. Christopher J. Carvalho — for saving his life. Krough joked about the experience, calling it “shocking” when he was hit.

“It was a typical Ranger class until we got struck by lightning — and then it got a little weird,” he said.

Carvalho, a medic in the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, provided immediate medical care to Rombold after the lightning strike. He said there is one common denominator in those who graduate Ranger School, and it applies to men and women.

“I feel like every one of the 96 Rangers who are graduating tomorrow said in their mind … ‘Quitting is not an option. We’re going to stick this out, and we’re going to do what needs to be done to get our Ranger tab,'” he said. “And I feel like anyone who comes to this school with that mentality is going to get their tab, whether they do it in 61 days or whether they do it in three-quarters of a year. That’s on them, and maybe a little bit on the RIs, the Ranger instructors, depending on what kind of mood they are in.”

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