Face of Defense: Soldier Born in China Earns Army Ranger Tab

Army Cpl. Lie Wu, a hard-working 31-year-old wheeled vehicle mechanic originally from Xian, China, recently earned the coveted Ranger tab.

The Ranger School based at Fort Benning, Georgia, is the Army’s premier combat leadership and small-unit tactics course. Just 36 percent of Ranger School students pass the grueling course of instruction to obtain the tab.

For more than two months, Ranger students train to exhaustion, pushing the limits of their minds and bodies. Oriented toward small-unit tactics and training volunteers to engage in close combat and direct-fire battles, the school has three phases: Benning, Mountain, and Florida. In the last 12 years, only 42 soldiers in Wu’s military occupational specialty have completed the course.

Wu said the hardest part for him was something that fueled his determination: the fear of disappointing others.

‘You Have to Do Your Best’

“I was scared to fail others — the expectations of my unit, my family. Especially when I was recycled and had just one more chance. When I was in leadership [roles at Ranger School], you have to do your best. But even when you’re not, you also have to do your best to support your Ranger buddies,” he said.

Wu has been in the Army for only 28 months and serves here in the 84th Engineer Battalion’s Forward Support Company, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

“I originally wanted to be a mechanic. It was something I knew nothing about, and I wanted to learn a new skill,” Wu said. Before joining the Army, Wu earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a focus on general management from Troy University in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2014.

“As I was obtaining my MBA, the plan was to get a managerial job, which I did for seven months upon graduation. I found that I didn’t like sitting in front of the computer,” Wu said.

Wu said he’d “heard lots of stories about the Rangers during basic training and wanted to be a part of it,” so he decided to join the Army.

His motivation to come to the United States came from a friend’s suggestion, Wu said.

“My best friend wanted to come to America to study. I had just graduated from college and I did not have a job in China. So he said, ‘Let’s go to the U.S. and get another degree.’ I came here as a student and started loving it here,” he said. He became a U.S. citizen in 2015.

The way people treat one another makes him most proud of being an American and living here, Wu said.

‘Everyone Respects Each Other’

“Here, I feel everyone respects each other and people work hard. As long as you work hard, people are going to recognize you. That’s a thing I like,” he added.

Aside from his higher education and military ambitions, Wu spends his downtime doing what many soldiers enjoy: running. “Running helps me remain healthy,” he explained. “I like exploring and making my own path. It is an adventure.”

He also enjoys the thrill of spear fishing on the weekends on Oahu’s North Shore.

Wu’s Ranger School experience did not end on his January graduation day. He plans on bringing his knowledge and leadership skills back to his fellow logisticians. “The leadership skills I learned at Ranger School will help me train and lead soldiers in my future as I continue to progress in both my field and the Army,” he said.

Wu said he plans on making the Army a career. Currently, he is focusing on getting promoted to sergeant and pursuing career opportunities in special operations.