Melissa Golden - Photographer - Atlanta, GA

INFANTRY(WO)MEN

Eighteen women made history in May of 2017 as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the US Army. Despite a 44% dropout rate compared with the men's 20%, the women who graduated all met the requirements and standards set by the Army. The female privates, who ranged from high school athletes to a single mother with a culinary degree, broke barriers within a rigid institution designed for men which now must accept them for what they proved themselves to be- infantrymen.

Photographed at Fort Benning, GA for The New York Times

Kayla Padgett stands guard in the woods during alpha company's 6-day field training exercise.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the Army.
Toy soldiers are arrayed in a sandbox where specific training scenarios are illustrated for the privates during alpha company's 6-day field training exercise.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infan
Private Nicole Deguzman quietly makes her way through the woods as part of a combat training scenario during alpha company's 6-day field training exercise.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry
Private Irelynn Donovan tries to fix her m240 machine gun during a training exercise. The gun weighs over 20 lbs and is notorious for jamming when fired with blanks, like those used during basic training.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates
Two latrines were designated for females during alpha company's 6-day field training exercise.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the Army.
COLUMBUS GA. - APRIL 30, 2017: Private Morgan rests briefly with the rest of her squad during the company's field training exercise.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the Army.
Private Padgett stands in front of the platoon that she leads as platoon guide, a position she was placed in by her drill sergeant.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the Army.
COLUMBUS GA. - APRIL 30, 2017: Private Morgan runs back up a long hill which the company was ordered to tackle as a punishment. There were no women to be seen at the rear of the returning group.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the fi
COLUMBUS GA. - APRIL 30, 2017: 
One of the female recruits moves on a location with her squad for a combat training scenario during alpha company's 6-day field training exercise.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gen
COLUMBUS GA. - APRIL 30, 2017: Men and women share all duties, including serving chow in the field. 

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the Army.
Melissa Golden for The New York
COLUMBUS GA. - MAY 1, 2017: The privates "embrace the suck" in a torrential downpour during alpha company's 6-day field training exercise. A tornado touched down nearby.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integ
COLUMBUS GA. - MAY 1, 2017: Private Donovan gets some extra hydration while waiting for orders in a downpour during alpha company's 6-day field training exercise. A tornado touched down nearby.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the fir
Fox holes are only of the only places where the genders are segregated. Private Tiffany Harland, right, hunkers down next to her battle buddy as a tornadic storm passes.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integ
COLUMBUS GA. - MAY 1, 2017: Private Deguzman helps Dasilva with her ruck after a training exercise. The recruits are required to carry at least 68 lbs during their required ruck marches.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first clas
Private Donovan receives a medal for having the highest physical fitness score among the women in her company. There is a different scale between the genders, but Donovan's score still beat many of the men in her company.

Eighteen women made history this
The infantrymen give a combat demonstration to the friends and family gathered for the graduation ceremony. The Army has decided to keep the term as-is for now and it applies to all members of the infantry, even the women.

Eighteen women made history thi
COLUMBUS GA. - MAY 19, 2017: Fellow privates help Donovan get her uniform just right before they march onto the parade field for their graduation ceremony.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry
Private Donovan waits with alpha company before commencing the blue cord ceremony.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the Army.
Private Tiffany Harmon waits in the shade with her fellow privates before marching in their graduation ceremony. Harmon is 31 and has a 5-year-old son.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry sol
Private Donovan embraces her mother Crissy Zalewski. The two maintained an intense written correspondence during Donovan's training and Zalewski carried the letters her daughter wrote to her with her in her purse.

Eighteen women made history this May as
The privates await further instruction after their graduation ceremony.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the Army.
Victor Deguzman came from Houston, TX with his family to see his daughter Nicole graduate. She is one of the Army's first 18 women to complete infantry training.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated in
Private Donovan's portrait from boot camp is seen in her mother's hotel room.

Eighteen women made history this May as graduates of the first class of gender integrated infantry soldiers in the Army.
Using Format