BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Former Birmingham-Southern College women's soccer standout Ruth Hanks ('10) has earned the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Identification Badge while serving at Arlington National Cemetery. A Sergeant in the U.S. Army, Hanks is the fourth woman in history to earn the badge, and the first since 1998.
"For me, it's one of the highest honors I could think about doing," said Hanks. "It's a role model for other females to look up to, but at the same time, from my point of view, I'm just a Sergeant in the United States Army who wants to do a job."
Hanks joined the Army in October 2011 and trained as military police. She joined the Honor Guard after a deployment in 2013. Finishing her training in 10 months, Hanks is now an Assistant Commander of the Relief. Her duty begins at 5 a.m. and does not end until 7 a.m. the next morning.
"My daily job is to do the changing of the guard," she noted. "We have soldiers on leave right now, so I'm walking. There are multiple changers and multiple walkers. We come in at 5 a.m. for PT and then we get all our uniforms ready before the first ceremonial walk. We're at work for 26 hours."
Once an aspiring veterinarian, Hanks found her calling under the mentorship of Dr. Scot Duncan, the head of the biology department at BSC, and worked in the forestry service after graduation. But hailing from a military family, she always wanted to serve her country. Her passion and pride for her current post is unquestionable. She is the 643rd Badge holder and intends to protect the Unknown Soldiers through 2018.
"The three soldiers whose tombs we guard gave everything for our country," she added. "Even their names. The least I can do is go out the door and be as perfect as possible for them. And that's what we do."
Hanks, a Texas native, played four years for the Panthers in goal. She appeared in 39 games and made 95 saves. She finished her career with a 0.86 goals against average.