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The First Active-Duty Female Army Sniper—Sgt. Maciel Hay

While attending a local college, a friend of Maciel Hay told her she would never make it to the Army, especially as a sniper. U.S. Army Sgt. Maciel Hay proved that former friend wrong in every capacity. In early December, not only had Hay made a name for herself in the Army, but she became the first active-duty woman to become a sniper in the Army and the second woman to ever complete the course.

“Needless to say, that person is no longer in my life,” Hay told Major Joe Legros in an interview for the Army’s blog. “But now that I look back at it, I really do appreciate the motivation.”

Hay has had a knack for marksmanship ever since she was a child. She grew up shooting rifles and handguns with her uncle on her family’s ranches in Rocklin, California and Medford, Oregon. She even earned the nickname “Sniper” for her speed and accuracy in the craft. Her abilities led her to chase a career with the Army, where her impeccable sharpshooting skills caught the attention of military leaders during the early days of basic training. She completed her basic training while qualifying as an expert with the M4 assault rifle, a crucial milestone for Soldiers, and completed airborne school to become a paratrooper.

After finishing these programs, one of her drill sergeants encouraged Hay to attend sniper school to fulfill the dream she was once told she couldn’t do. She took her sergeant’s suggestion, and after five weeks, she received her certification as a U.S. Army Sniper. This qualification signifies that the Soldier has met the high standards set by the school and can carry out sniper duties in various operational environments.

Now, Hay is serving as a cavalry scout with the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (1-91 CAV), 173rd Airborne Brigade, the Army’s contingency response force in Europe. She will be shipping off to Anchorage, Alaska, next to join the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, hoping to become a jumpmaster and possibly attend Ranger School.

“Sgt. Hay is just an incredible non-commissioned officer that comes to work every day with the intention of making not only her team better but also the entire organization,” said Hay’s platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Antwon Jones, “It’s great to hear stories about paratroopers doing great things, but especially when it’s a female defying the odds and proving women are just as capable to do anything when they have the motivation and drive to win.”

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