One hundred thirty-nine Soldiers
from Fort Riley, the 1st Infantry Division and beyond recently tested their
mettle at Fort Riley’s training areas in the name of earning the Expert Field
Medical Badge. After a grueling, weeklong schedule of events that included a
60-question written exam, day and night land navigation, three combat testing
lanes and a 12-mile ruck march, 14 Soldiers remained. “That cut is extremely tough,”
said Brig. Gen. Frank Muth, 1st Inf. Div. deputy commanding general for
support, who spoke at a June 9 EFMB awards ceremony at Barlow Theater. “For
these (EFMB recipient) Soldiers, that is a career, a lifelong achievement that
I know they will never forget, as they participated in one of the most grueling
tests the U.S. Army can come up with.”
According to the Army Medical
Department website, the overall EFMB pass rate for 2013 was only 19 percent.
“As a medic, it’s pride and
joy,” to earn the badge, said Spc. Elvis Palarchie, medic, Headquarters and
Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th
Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., and a Montego Bay, Jamaica,
native, who did not end up earning the badge this rotation. “I’m looking
forward to going as far as possible, and if I don’t get it this time, coming
back and doing it again.”
Soldiers from both active and
reserve components, from as far away as New York and Maryland, made the trip to
Fort Riley for this rotation.
“As soon as it was put up
on the website that we were running an EFMB in June, we began getting requests
from units across the country,” said 1st Lt. Cory Alford, medical officer, 1st
Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st
Inf. Div., and the lanes officer in charge. “It was great to have all these
Soldiers come from as far away as the 10th Mountain Division, (Fort Drum, New
York) and Walter Reed (Army Medical Center.)”
Each task narrowed the
field of competitors. The combat testing lanes – tactical combat casualty care;
nuclear, biological, and chemical defense and warrior tasks; and an obstacle
course done while bearing a casualty on a litter – were especially tough, according
to one Soldier who did finish with his EFMB.
“Each task is very doable, and
it seems very easy,” said Capt. Dan McAllister, dentist, Dental Command, Fort
Leonard Wood, Missouri. “Then, when you’re in there doing it, it’s those little
things that you just forget when you’re putting 19 tasks together, and you’ve got
a grader over your shoulder staring you down. I think that’s the most difficult
thing … it’s not that uncommon for someone to just completely forget to do a
Spc. Luis Perez, medic, Headquarters
and Headquarters Troop, 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf.
Div., said he had to re-center himself before each lane.
“Just keeping my mind on faith
and family, my wife, my friends – everyone who went through it with me – my
platoon and music helped me get in the zone,” he said.
Perez was one of the 14 who
earned his badge.
With less than 20 Soldiers remaining,
the final task was to complete a 12-mile ruck march in less than three hours.
McAllister and 1st Lt.
Corey Moore, medical officer, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div.,
and a Flemingsburg, Kentucky, native, were the first to finish at just more
than two hours, 20 minutes.
“We came in and expected it
to be flat, and it was much hillier than I expected,” Moore said. “We ran the
down hills and walked the up hills, and just pushed it out.”
During the next 40 minutes,
12 more Soldiers and their sponsors trudged across the finish line as family – Perez’s
wife, Bridget, among them – and fellow Soldiers cheered them on for the final few
“It’s amazing having my wife out here. I saw her and was
so happy,” Perez said. “My legs were cramped, but I kept walking strong, I couldn’t