Tianna Langdon didn’t set out to make military history, but she did it anyway.

The 19-year-old Sedro-Woolley High School graduate is the first woman in Washington to enlist in the Army as a cannon crew member, since the Army lifted gender restrictions for combat roles earlier this year.

She is the second woman from Washington to enlist in a combat position. The other woman is going to be a combat engineer.

“To me, it’s all I’ve ever wanted,” Langdon said.

Langdon said she knew she wanted to join the military when she was in high school, but none of the jobs available to women interested her.

“I was always told ‘You can’t do combat,” she said. “To me, (combat is) making a difference. It’s fighting for my country.”

That changed Oct. 29, when her recruiter informed her that a position as a cannon crew member — an artillery position that supports infantry — had opened up for women.

“(The recruiter) got on the phone and that position had literally just opened up,” Langdon said. “They refer to it as ‘The King of Battle’ — they play from a distance.”

Thirty-six women in the country have enlisted as cannon crew members, said Tom Conning, advertising and public affairs chief with the Seattle Army Recruiting Battalion.

“I just wanted to make a difference,” Langdon said. “I’m just trying to pave the way for women in combat.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter earlier this month announced his decision that all combat roles should be open to women in all branches of the military, effective in January.

Other soldiers agree.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Taylor, a recruiter at the Burlington location. “I’ve seen a lot of females perform on par with the gentlemen. She has the drive and the determination.”

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, also said gender restrictions were a barrier that needed to be removed.

“I want to commend (Langdon) for serving our country,” Larsen said. “I think it’s important that we recognize that there are men and women who are eligible to serve in a combat role. Who are we to tell them no?”

Langdon said she plans to make a career out of the military and possibly attend Army Ranger School.

“This is a starting point for women,” she said. “It’s up to me and other women to pave the way for future soldiers. I don’t think being a woman should be a stoppage for what you want to do.”

Langdon said she hasn’t had many people tell her she shouldn’t be allowed to enlist in a combat role, but to those who do think it, she has a message: Just watch.

“The title ‘soldier’ is very important to me,” Langdon said. “I take pride in it.”

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,

kwanielista@skagitpublishing.com

, Twitter:

@Kera_SVH

,

facebook.com/KeraReports

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