Story by Army Pfc. David Dumas
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
December 28, 2022
FORT HOOD (Now designated Fort Cavazos), TX – The first female active duty soldier graduated from The M1A2 Abrams Master Gunner Course at Ft. Benning, GA.
Sgt. Cinthia Ramirez, assigned to Avenger Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, pushed through the course to motivate other soldiers to set goals and standards for themselves and achieve them.
“I was always getting in trouble as a private because I never really had a goal for myself other than ‘get through this contract’. But once I got promoted and became a non-commissioned officer, everything changed,” said Ramirez. “In the past, I had some examples of pretty bad leadership, and I told myself I did not want to be that type of leader. So I knew I needed to start setting standards and goals for myself to progress in my career.”
To further improve herself as a soldier and NCO, Ramirez knew that her next step was to set the goal of graduating from the M1A2 Abrams Master Gunner Course.
“Getting into Master Gunner school was so hard, but that just made me even more determined to get in. Everyone kept telling me how hard it was, and I wanted to see for myself just how hard it was – and they were not wrong. I just want people to realize that just because you were never the best soldier or you’ve been in trouble – you can change and turn things around. The mistakes I made as a private will not define who I am as an NCO and a leader.” said Ramirez.
Being tested during the course on weapons system platforms, the Master Gunner has the duty of advising commanders and being a part of the planning, development, execution, and evaluation of all combat and gunnery-related training.
“During the course, I was bombarded with information, which was overwhelming. There was a lot of new information I learned. As a tanker for 4 1/2 years already, a lot of what they taught us were things I would never really think about. It was a whole other level of knowledge,” said Ramirez.
Course participants are tested on a multitude of curriculums, including Individual, Maintenance, Gunnery, and Gunnery Training. The required amount of skills and intellect to pass the Master Gunner Course has proven to be difficult, resulting in a very low graduation rate.
“I didn’t pass the first time, and I got down on myself. I didn’t want to go back. Thankfully, I had some amazing people on my side that believed in me and reminded me of my potential,” said Ramirez.
Motivated to graduate from the course, Ramirez returned with the knowledge she gained from her last attempt and used her past experiences to her advantage.
“When I went back to the course a second time, it was a much better experience because I had a better grasp of what was being explained. The instructors were great at helping me understand the process behind things,” said Ramirez.
After going back to the course for a second time, Ramirez graduated from the course and became the first active duty female soldier to graduate from The M1A2 Abrams Master Gunner Course.
“Mistakes shouldn’t stop you from wanting to be a better person. So, just because we as females might fail the first time we try, it doesn’t mean we stop. We have to keep going and pushing,” said Ramirez.