It is said that things happen for a reason and that there are no coincidences.
As fate would have it, two West Milford High School graduates, Ryan Hoffman (2016) and Brandon Janz (2018), unbeknownst to themselves, started Ranger School together, crossed paths and graduated from the same class.
While this may not seem like much of a coincidence or fate, both young men followed different paths to Ranger School.
Hoffman went through ROTC at Boston University, commissioned in 2020 and began Officer training that summer.
Janz enlisted in 2019, completed basic training, Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and completed a 12-month overseas assignment in South Korea.
As part of his Infantry Officer training, Hoffman was sent to Ranger School while Janz was awarded a slot at Ranger School (these slots are not given generously).
Ranger School is one of the toughest training courses for which a Soldier can volunteer.
What being an Army Ranger requires
Army Rangers are experts in leading Soldiers on difficult missions—and to do this they need rigorous training. For over two months, Ranger students train to exhaustion, pushing the limits of their minds and bodies.
The purpose of the U.S. Army’s Ranger Course is to prepare these Army volunteers — both Officers and enlisted Soldiers — in combat arms related functional skills. The Rangers’ primary mission is to engage in close combat and direct-fire battles. (goarmy.com)
Prior to the start of the course, the Soldiers must endure RAP week (Ranger Assessment Phase) in which they must pass physical, swim, land navigation, foot march and Ranger skills tests while being sleep and food deprived. They must pass RAP week in order to move into the course, many are not granted another chance at Ranger School if they do not pass RAP week.
During the 62-day course, the Soldiers endure “course-imposed stress” carrying 65-90 lbs. of combat equipment throughout 200+ miles of tactical foot movements; undergo sleep deprivation of 0-5 hours of sleep per night; endure food restriction of 2,200 calories (while this may seem like a lot, they are burning between 8,000 and 10,000 calories a day); experience the environmental impacts of each phase: Benning, Mountains and Swamps; and are graded based on leadership positions in mock combat patrols, as well as peer evaluations after each phase.
Then there’s ....
Throughout the course, there are 51 field days, 15 high risk days, 26 patrolling days, 3 obstacle courses, 3 airborne operations, 4 air assaults, 4 boat movements and 2-3 graded patrols per phase. To say that this course is difficult to complete is an understatement. Approximately 4,000 Ranger students enter Ranger School (comprising 11 separate classes) within a year with approximately 30-40% actually graduating and receiving the highly coveted Ranger Tab. In fact, the statistics for 2016-2018 detail a pass rate of 36.8%, 33.1% and 41.9% respectively.
Many of these students who eventually become Ranger qualified have had to endure much longer than 62 days as they have had to repeat phases that they did not initially pass, during which time they remain at that base for that phase with others that have also “recycled.”
It is not unusual for a Soldier to take a year or more to pass and become Ranger qualified. It is important to also note that at no time does a Soldier have the “comforts” of home even while awaiting their chance to re-enter a phase (this includes limited access to a phone).
Thank you for your service
Given the above statistics, it is beyond amazing that these two West Milford High School students not only passed Ranger School, but graduated from the same class.
Whether or not these two young men will have their military paths cross again, they have formed a bond of brotherhood that will last a lifetime. We wish them well and thank them for their service.
This story was provided by Laura Hoffman.