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Dec 5, 2015 1:02 PM

Derry woman is 1st in U.S. Army to graduate as combat engineer

The Associated Press

COLCHESTER, Vt. — A Vermont National Guard soldier from Derry, N.H. is the first woman in the U.S. Army to qualify as a combat engineer.

Spc. Skylar Anderson says it was a "big eye-opener" when her instructors told her over the summer that she was the first woman to complete the course allowing her to work alongside combat troops. The job can include clearing mine fields, defusing or detonating roadside bombs and building or destroying bridges.

Anderson originally enlisted in the New Hampshire National Guard, then transferred to the Vermont Army National Guard in February of 2014, while pursuing a degree at the University of Vermont. Now a junior, she says she hopes she can be a role model for other women in the military.

The U.S. military has been grappling for years with how best to integrate women in the services into combat. On Thursday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the services to open all combat jobs to women.

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