News: Fury troopers earn coveted Expert Infantry Badge, distinguish themselves among their peers
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Armas
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division were awarded the coveted Expert Infantry Badge during a ceremony Feb. 14 at Pike Field.
The ceremony marked the culmination of four days of testing that was conducted by the division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team.
More than 800 troopers from the 4th BCT and the division’s 3rd BCT began their quest for the badge on day one, completing an Army Physical Fitness Test. Those who passed the APFT continued on, braving the steady rain fall to complete a land navigation course that consisted of a day and night iteration. The course proved to be one of the most challenging portions of the EIB testing, as a good portion of the participants failed to complete the course to standard or within the allotted time.
For the next two days, Paratroopers had to go through three separate patrol lanes. In each lane, they were faced with different scenarios and were tested on their ability to move under fire, perform marksmanship skills and conduct basic first aid, among other things.
The final day concluded with a 12 mile road march that was immediately followed by the awards ceremony. Drenched in sweat and obviously relieved, 99 Paratroopers stood in formation and were presented their badges by their spouses or other EIB awardees.
“It’s an honor to be able to wear this badge on my uniform,” said Sgt. Kahlil Ford, from New York, a Paratrooper assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT.
Ford said it was a great feeling to become part of a ‘distinguished group’ of infantrymen who have been awarded the EIB. He continued, saying that he and his fellow Paratroopers trained for about three weeks leading up to the actual testing. The training was invaluable, he added.
“Training for the EIB was very meticulous and it focused a lot on attention to detail. I felt that much more confident as a result of it,” said Ford.
The actual testing was also physically and mentally demanding, Ford continued.
“It takes a lot of heart to go out there and complete all of these tasks to standard…I think the rate of attrition proved that to be the case.”
Staff Sgt. Christopher Garabitos, from New York, also assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th PIR, 4th BCT, earned his EIB back in 2002. Now as an evaluator, he said that being awarded the EIB can be the pinnacle of an infantryman’s career.
“Earning the EIB was by far my biggest achievement,” said Garabitos.
Garabitos said that it takes a unique individual to obtain the coveted award. “It shows a lot about your overall skills as an infantryman and it tests your ability to perform under pressure,” he added. Individuals must be disciplined and dedicated in order to obtain the badge, Garabitos continued.
Ford said he feels that the EIB experience not only helped him grow as a Paratrooper, but as a leader as well.
“I think that I will be able to take all of the knowledge I obtained during the training and testing and apply it to real-world missions,” said Ford. “It’s my job now to go train the younger Paratroopers in our formation so they can go out there and get their EIB as well.”
This work, Fury troopers earn coveted Expert Infantry Badge, distinguish themselves among their peers, by SFC Joe Armas, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.