America officially has its first Space Ranger

Capt. Daniel Reynolds (right) became the first Space Force Guardian to earn the Ranger tab. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army).

By Nicholas Slayton,
Published by Task and Purpose, 14 October, 2023

Step aside, Buzz Lightyear

Capt. Daniel Reynolds graduated from the U.S. military’s Ranger School this week, becoming the first Space Force Guardian to earn a Ranger tab. He is effectively the military’s first “Space Ranger.”

Reynolds was awarded his Ranger tab on Friday, Oct. 13. At the graduation ceremony, Capt. Reynolds was presented the Ranger tab by his father, Army Col. John Reynolds, himself a Ranger.

Reynolds is the first of likely many more Guardians to earn the tab in the service’s future. Reynolds isn’t going to be traipsing around outer space with a ray gun like Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon, but instead he’s helping test Space Force’s satellite communications capabilities. He currently serves as a test director with 4th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Space Delta 12. 

In Space Force’s short history Capt. Reynolds has emerged as a leader in the service’s achievements. 

In May 2021, he became the first Guardian to graduate from the U.S. Army Air Assault School. In April 2022, he became the first Guardian to graduate from the 28-day-long Sapper Leaders Course, becoming the first Sapper in the Space Force.

As for why an aerospace engineer need the kind of skills Sappers and Rangers have, Reynolds touched on it after finishing the Sapper course.

“One of the worst things that we can do as a service is to exclude the warfighter from the engineering process,” Capt. Reynolds said in 2022. “As we move forward, it is imperative that the space test community understands their needs, wants, and concerns; their frame of reference is of the utmost importance in fielding increasingly advanced space systems.”

To earn his Ranger tab, Reynolds took part in a Ranger Assessment Course with 30 other service members. The course included 15 soldiers and 15 airmen, while he was the sole representative of the military’s newest branch. For more than 60 days he and the others were put through the grueling training process. During the course, he told the Air Force that the training helped him get a real sense of what troops deal with in the field and how they utilize tools such as satellite information. 

“At courses like this we take individuals who are working in space, and we get them together with individuals who are the tip of the spear, executing these missions, engaging the enemy face-to-face,” Reynolds told the Air Force in August. “That’s where we learn how to design better systems and capabilities.”

Many Guardians were formerly airmen with the U.S. Air Force, split off when the service’s space duties were transferred to the military’s newest branch. 

Reynolds joined the Air Force Academy in 2013, graduating in 2017. He initially trained as a test pilot, but switched to becoming an aerospace engineer with the formation of Space Force, transferring over to the branch in February 2021. He earned a Masters of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2019.

In addition to his Ranger tab, Reynolds also received the Officer Leadership Award for his Ranger class.

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