A tall Midwestern woman, ace mechanic, respected NCO (non-commissioned officer) and mother, Ranie Ruthig was often requested by the Marines for the toughest missions. Her observations of encounters with Iraqi women and children underscore the complicated role Lionesses play in an urban combat environment.
"My daughter is very proud that both of her parents are in the military, and always brags about it."
--Staff Sergeant Ranie Ruthig
What have you been doing since filming ended in August 2007?
I am currently a member of the KSARNG (Kansas Army National Guard), and work at the MATES (Mobilization and Training Equipment Site) facility at Fort Riley as a publication manager. I left active service shortly before filming the movie, but missed serving, so I enlisted with the Kansas Guard.
How do you think your experiences in combat as a woman differ from those of men?
From my experience with the 1st Engineer Battalion, our experiences were the same. Although I know our experiences were the exception and not the rule.
What was/is your day-to-day role during active duty?
While I was deployed I was the TC/50Cal gunner for the HMMET wrecker, platoon sergeant for the maintenance section and of course, a member of the Lioness team. Currently I am a squad leader with Company(-) 170th Maintenance Company out of Norton, KS.
What most surprised you about your time in Iraq?
How close you can get to people that have no relationship to you. You have to depend on the people that sit to your left and right, no matter how you feel about them.
What about your experience would you like to communicate to the American public?
That the American media never show the good things that the military services are doing in Iraq. Every news story is about the negative things happening over there, never the positive.
How has your service affected your family?
My family is very proud that I am in the military. They worry that I will have to deploy again, which is a very real possibility. They support me and the decisions that I make. My daughter is very proud that both of her parents are in the military, and always brags about it.
What would your advice be to an 18-year-old woman entering the military?
I think that every single person in America should have to do an enlistment in one of the uniform services. My advice would be that you have to stand on your own two feet, and let your actions speak for you.
How has your time away from home affected your relationship with your child?
I value my time with her a lot more. I still have moments when I am a little more terse than what the situation calls for, but I apologize and explain to her my side. Luckily she is older and can understand more about why I have problems.
What is your relationship like with your commander?
While active, I never had a company commander that wasn't supportive and a strong leader. I got extremely lucky in the units that I was assigned to. In the National Guard you see the officers in the unit on a more personal level, so that has been an adjustment for me.