- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A 25-year-old from Orem is set to become the first Utah woman to join the U.S. infantry, taking advantage of the Pentagon’s decision to open up all combat jobs to women.

Tara McCaig was sworn into the U.S. Army last week after aspiring to the combat position since childhood, The Deseret News reported (http://bit.ly/1Wc5d6Z ). For years those goals were impossible, until Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all military service positions opened to women in December.

“If we have that mindset and we can hold our own, then we definitely can do it,” McCaig said Tuesday of the new policies allowing women to enter combat positions provided they are physically able. “I don’t think it matters if we are female or male.”

Utah Army spokesman Jeffrey Ross confirmed that McCaig is the first Utah woman and the 10th in the country to join the infantry.

“When I walked in (to the swearing in ceremony) I didn’t even know that I was the first in the state until a little bit later through the process when all of a sudden everyone started to rush me to the front of everything,” McCaig said.

McCaig said she has wanted to join the armed forces since childhood. Her grandfathers served in the Army and her father and brother were in the Navy. She said she chose the Army over the U.S. Air Force because of the family connection.

McCaig is scheduled to take part in the first coed Basic Infantry Training at Fort Benning in Georgia in January. She is currently studying criminal justice at Utah Valley University.

McCaig said she is excited to take on the challenges of training and being in the infantry, but she is most looking forward to jumping from airplanes. She said soon other women who aspire to the Army will join her.

“If you put your mind to it, you can definitely do it. You can’t let the naysayers get to you. If you want it, you have to just go for it,” she said.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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