News: Ironhorse soldiers’ skills tested, earn EFMB
Story by Sgt. John Couffer
FORT HOOD, Texas – While on patrol, a Cavalry Trooper carried a ruck-sack on her back, a helmet on her head, a protective gas mask on her hip and her rifle at the ready, when there was a sudden explosion. Reacting to indirect fire, she hunted the nearest cover.
In order to achieve the Expert Field Medical Badge, Pfc. Sara Lacroix, a combat medic and Sabbattus, Maine native, assigned to Company C, 115th “Muleskinner” Brigade Support Battalion, 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, tested her resolve as she pushed herself through the EFMB test 22 April to 2 May here.
Approved by the Army in 1965, the Expert Field Medical Badge is the non-combat equivalent to the Combat Medical Badge and is awarded, via testing, for recognition of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel.
This particular EFMB was hosted by the 1st Cav. Div. and encouraged attendance from across the Army.
“Whenever there is a competition, it gets published on the EFMB website so other units can see it,” said Capt. Christopher Carpenter, a medical service corps officer assigned to Intelligence and Sustainment Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion of the 1st Cav Div.
Not only is the event open to the Army, the EFMB can also accommodate personnel from sister military services like the Air Force, provided they meet the requirements for testing.
The EFMB test spans ten days and measures an individual medical soldier’s physical fitness, mental toughness and ability to perform to standards of excellence in a broad spectrum of critical medical and soldier tasks.
Carpenter, the EFMB medical planning officer in charge, said within the ten days soldiers become familiar with what they are testing on and how they will be graded. He added that the EFMB is an individual, not team, based event.
The EFMB is a good opportunity for medical soldiers to get one of the hardest skill badges there is in the Army, Carpenter said.
On a good day, Carpenter said the average pass rate is about 20 percent.
Lacroix, an 18 month Army veteran, said she heard about the badge while training to be a medic during her advanced individual training.
“When I was in AIT, (the cadre) handed us a piece of paper that had all the badges the Army awards on it,” Lacroix said. “I said this is the badge, I’m a medic I have to get this badge.”
Lacroix said that she felt fortunate to attend the EFMB test because not everyone has the opportunity to do it much less have a second chance for completion.
Lacroix explained her second run for the EFMB proved more difficult because of her nervousness in completing the task which proved to be to much for her on her first attempt, the three-hour, 12-mile ruck.
When asked what gives her motivation to keep pushing to achieve the badge, Lacroix said she and her roommate both attended their first EFMB together, but only her roommate passed and that has kept her going. Lacroix added that her family and roommate offer a great amount of support and that helps with her motivation.
Lacroix said she thinks the badge is prestigious and honorable to wear on the uniform and stated when she sees the badge on other people she knows how hard those people worked to get it.
Around the 2 hour, 52 minute mark, Lacroix crossed the finish line of the ruck march event thereby securing her EFMB.
Upon passing the EFMB, Lacroix said she was in shock.
“Words really don’t describe it to be honest,” she said. “They’re going to pin me and I still don’t even believe it.”
Capt. Charles Elliott, commander of Company C of the Muleskinner Battalion said his company began with eight participants, Lacroix being one of them, with four completing the EFMB.
Elliott said it was a great accomplishment that his four soldiers graduated.
I’m proud of my soldiers, this is one of the hardest badges in the Army to get,” he said.
Having four of eight soldiers in his company earn the badge, and seven in the brigade, is a huge accomplishment, not just for Company C, but the brigade as a whole, Elliott said.
The EFMB is not the end for Lacroix.
“I want to go to Air Assault, I want to go Airborne, I want to drop my warrant packet to fly some helicopters,” Lacroix explained.
Lacrioix’s advice to future participants is to never stop and keep their drive up.
The Ironhorse Brigade had seven soldiers earn the EFMB.
The six other Ironhorse soldiers who earned their EFMB were: Sgt. Tyler Duran, Spc. Miguel Jimenez assigned to 2nd
“Stallion” Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, Spc. Guillermo Noriega, assigned to the 2nd “Lancer” Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment and Spc. Nicholas Okada, Sgt. Shaun Ring and 1st Lt. Paul Riojas, all assigned to the Muleskinner Battalion.