'It was an honor': US Army soldier, one of the first women to earn Ranger tab, on leading Ruth Bader Ginsburg's lying in state ceremony
US Army Capt. Shaye Haver, a company commander of the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Regiment. United States Army
One of the first women to graduate from the US Army Ranger School had the special honor of leading Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was in procession in the US Capitol.
"I'm a huge fan of really strong leaders, and I think Justice Ginsburg was able to champion many things," US Army Captain Shaye Haver, a company commander of 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, told Insider.
Ginsburg's Lies in the State was Haver's first official procession.
The parallels between Ginsburg and Haver's career successes were not lost to the observers.
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One of the first women to graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School had the special honor of leading Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a procession at the U.S. Capitol in late September, a ceremony the soldier described as humble because of its importance.
"I'm a huge fan of really strong leaders, and I think Justice Ginsburg was able to champion many things," US Army Captain Shaye Haver, a company commander of 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, told Insider. "I think everyone can be proud of it and be inspired by it. It was an honor to be part of such a large-scale operation to honor such a person."
Gisburg died at the age of 87 after battling pancreatic cancer and is buried next to her husband's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. Previously, she had the honor of being carried by a joint coffin team, also known as the body carrier, represented by all longstanding military service: two members of the Army, the Marines and the Navy; and one from the Air Force and the Coast Guard.
Since the army is the largest branch of the military, it also provides the officer in charge of the procession, traditionally chosen from one of the four companies of the ceremonial unit of the army, also known as the "Old Guard". Each of these company commanders is responsible for various processes in the procession.
D-Company, also known as the "Doghouse Company", is responsible for the Capitol sequence in which the coffin team receives the remains from the hearse and transports them to the Capitol rotunda. Former D Company commander directed the Capitol sequence for Democratic MP John Lewis, who died in July.
Responsibility for the Capitol sequence for Ginsburg's state rested on Captain Haver, who first assumed command of the company in August.
Ginsburg's Lies in the State was Haver's first official procession.
An Old Guard soldier at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery May 6, 2018. Reese Brown / Fort Belvoir Community Hospital
While her duties at the ceremony were random due to her position, Haver volunteered as a member of the legendary Old Guard.
"A lot of people don't know that we have funerals at Arlington National Cemetery every day," Haver told Insider. "And that's for veterans, fallen heroes, and also their spouses and loved ones."
"Knowing this about this unit and knowing the precision it takes to give these members outstanding accolades is something I knew I wanted to be a part of - something I always personally strive to be make sure it's me I do my best in absolutely everything I do, "she added.
The highly competitive process of becoming a member of the Old Guard is reflected in their physical demands, including lifting a coffin and climbing the 35 steps of the Capitol's rotunda.
"The hardest part of handing over remains is carrying the coffin up the steps," Haver said. "Getting this right is our greatest risk in the mission."
Service members are not allowed to look down as they go up and down the stairs and "stay in our ceremonial serenity," Haver said.
"I was literally looking right down the street in front of me, walking down it ... and knowing we were on the next flight of stairs," added Haver.
Although their expectations are high, the Old Guard does not have much opportunity to rehearse a state ceremony with service members from the other branches. Apart from one exercise per year, the body carriers of a joint coffin team only work together after notification.
"It just shows how professional and how capable this team is - to get notified this quickly - to come together and conduct such a flawless ceremony," said Haver.
Captain Shaye Haver and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. US Army and Nikki Kahn / The Washington Post via Getty Images
The parallels between Ginsburg and Haver's career successes were not lost by observers of the procession in Washington, DC.
Ginsburg became a liberal, feminist advocate when she served on the Supreme Court for 27 years. During her tenure, Ginsburg led courtroom battles for gender equality - and even picked up cases of men being discriminated against based on gender. She also authored the 7-1 majority against the Virginia Military Institute's admissions process, which banned women from its ranks, arguing "how much good women could do for the institution".
Ginsburg is the first woman to lie in the US Capitol in the state.
Haver was one of the first women to graduate from the Army's grueling ranger school, designed to prepare soldiers for combat patrols in difficult terrain. About half of the volunteer candidates fail the 62-day course.
Women were allowed to volunteer for the ranger school in 2015 in order to continue the decades-long tradition of the all-male armed forces.
"If we're ready and do the same things to them every day, that's what they want to see," Haver told the Army Times in 2018.
Haver said she understood the importance of her role during Ginsburg's procession, but suspended those thoughts until after the event.
"To ... best serve my team, I had to internalize the mission and perhaps think a little later about what it meant to me personally," Haver said. "But to be honest, it was an amazing experience for me to be part of the team together and to be able to perform that day."
"We know the service was conducted in a way that Justice Ginsburg itself would have liked," added Haver.
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