CWU News

Two CWU Army ROTC alumni graduate from United States Army Ranger School

Two Central Washington University military science degree recipients are among the most recent graduates of the prestigious United States Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga.

Second Lieutenant Hauke Harfst, a 2016 CWU alumnus, and Captain Victor McKenzie, 2010, completed the 61-day program, which encompasses the military’s most elite training. Just half of the enrolled students successfully complete the arduous, three-phase course that exhausts their emotional, mental, and physical limits.

At CWU, Harfst and McKenzie prepared for their military careers through their involvement with the university’s award-winning Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

“When we learn about our former students achieving such elite levels of success, it shows that we are doing exactly what’s needed in preparing them for careers in military service,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Ackiss, CWU military science department chair, and head of the Army ROTC detachment.

Established in 1981, the nationally regarded CWU Army ROTC “Wildcat Battalion,” named for the university’s mascot, consistently produces distinguished military graduates, such as Harfst and McKenzie.
They were also part of the detachment’s Ranger Challenge squad. The CWU unit participates, and often, wins, at the Task Force Pacific Northwest competition at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma. The annual challenge, known as the ROTC’s Super Bowl, involves competing units from colleges and universities throughout the western United States and beyond.

CWU’s Ranger Challenge team also earned international distinction through winning its way into the 2012 International Sandhurst Competition, held at the West Point (New York) Military Academy, against active duty and reserve military units from around the world. CWU cadets topped all ROTC teams at that event, not to mention peers from the United State Air Force, Coast Guard and Naval academies.

Harfst, a native of Yakima, who also served as the Associated Students of CWU vice president for Academic Affairs, and McKenzie, from Sumner, who played for the CWU men’s rugby team, will now be stationed with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis. McKenzie previously served in Afghanistan.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, 509-963-1487,

April 6, 2017