FORT CAMPBELL, UNITED STATES
FORT CAMPBELL, KY — For combat medics, the Expert Field Medical Badge is the most significant badge one can don because of it's recognition of their expertise in their warrior and combat medical skills.
When testing for the EFMB began Oct. 5, there were 107 candidates vying for the coveted medical badge. When they crossed the finish line of the 12-mile foot march and stood in formation as their badges were pinned upon their chest Oct. 9, only 17 Soldiers were left. Of those 17, three were Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
"This validates them in every single skill a medic should be an expert in," said Capt. Jess Christensen, commander, Company C, 526th Brigade Support Battalion, who earned his EMFB. "It's a true test and it's a tough test."
The earn the EFMB, which was first created in June 1965 to recognize medical personnel for attaining a high state of technical skill in field medical functions, medics are tested under realistic combat conditions and scenarios
During test week, medics are run through a series of combat medical lanes, which covered tactical combat casualty care, communications, medical and casualty evacuation, basic warrior skills, a written test, day and night land navigation, and culminating with a 12-mile foot march.
When Sgt. Michael Bennett, a medical equipment repairer with Co. C, 526th BSB, crossed the finish line of the foot march, "I was relieved that it was over. It's a badge that I wanted for a long time. I wasn't going to let myself fail today."
He, along with all the competitors, wanted nothing more than to say they are expert medics.
"It's really a coveted badge in the medical field. It's a hard badge to get; it's not easy," said Bennett, who earned the distinction as the honor graduate.
For nearly two weeks, medics lived far from home as they studied, prepared and trained daily for an opportunity to earn one of the Army's most difficult badges to obtain.
"Everyone out there wanted to get the badge. It's tough; it's not just given to you," said Christensen. "It's so many tasks. Everything has to be in sequence and that's what is hard about it."
His goal, along with that of every competitor, was the same.
"The goal was to stand at the graduation and get the badge pinned on. That shows everyone you're an expert medic," Christensen said. "It shows everyone you have what it takes to get it done. That's what I wanted to do, that's what Sergeant Bennett wanted to do."
The competitors were under a lot of pressure to perform under very stressful and enduring conditions. Each portion of the testing presented a variety of demands, both physically and mentally, on the competitors, but it was their will to succeed that kept them going.
"If you set your goals high you can obtain them," Bennett said.
Bennett and Christensen both agreed that being there with their fellow Strike Soldiers kept them on their feet and well prepared to obtain the badge.
Nightly, they studied together for hours to better prepare themselves for the next day's events.
"We worked together. We rehearsed the tasks every night," said Christensen. "Everyone out there wanted to get the badge."
At the end of it all, three Strike Soldiers stood tall knowing they achieved something very few in the medical field ever do. They are now considered expert medics.
For Christensen, a commander of a medical company, it wasn't an option for him. He simply knew earning the badge was a must for him.
"As a leader you have to lead from the front. I didn't have my EFMB and I wanted to go back out there and earn it," he said. "I think it sets a high standard for them to go back and get their EFMB."
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This work, 3 Strike Soldiers earn coveted medical badge, by SSG James Hunter, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.