Selfless action 'really makes you a Soldier'
November 9, 2009
- Two Fort Polk Soldiers give up their chance to earn the coveted EIB to assist an injured comrade
Oct. 30, 2009, FORT POLK, La. -- The epitome of excellence for many infantrymen is earning an Expert Infantryman Badge. In upholding the Army Values, however, two Patriot Brigade infantrymen recently risked not earning EIBs to aid a fallen comrade.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division validated a new Army standard for EIB testing called EIB XXI Sept. 21-25. After passing every phase of the week-long testing period, Spc. Leo Krause, a squad leader assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, and Spc. Nathaniel Sumpter, a Company A, 2-30 Inf Reg gunner, were more than 9 miles into completing a 12-mile road march, the final obstacle to their earning EIBs.
Both Soldiers were on target to meet the three-hour time standard required to earn their EIBs when they stopped to administer first aid to a comrade who fell and could not continue.
"He was staggering like he was drunk," said Krause. "I walked by him (and) asked him if he was alright. He said yes. Specialist Sumpter followed me (and also) asked him (how he was.)" The Soldier still insisted he was OK, but Krause saw him collapse about 100 meters farther up the road, so he and Sumpter ran back to him, assessed him as a casualty and began administering first aid.
"I dropped all my gear (and) ran a quarter-mile to the FLA (Field Litter Ambulance)," said Krause. "We stayed with him until the FLA (personnel) said they had it under control."
Krause estimated the incident lasted about 35 minutes. Sumpter and Krause continued the road march but were stopped about 1 A,A1/2 miles short of the finish line when the three-hour time limit expired.
"It is a fellow Soldier. Life is more important than an EIB," said Krause, who likely would have earned an EIB in his second attempt. "I would do the road march again right now if they would let me."
Sumpter seemed proud he accomplished all required EIB XXI tasks to standard during the week and made it to the road march in his first effort to earn an EIB. Like Krause, Sumpter said earning an EIB means a lot. Along with an EIB comes respect, especially for an indirect fire infantryman, he said.
"They say we are not real infantry," said Sumpter. "But for me, if I was able to get my EIB ... (it would be proof) I know what I am doing and ... (I am) able to do everything I need to do; and (I can) accomplish the mission."
Sumpter said it hurts a little for him to be so close to achieving a goal he wanted to accomplish then not complete it. There are more important things in life though, he said.
"You see it there, but then you have your choice," said Sumpter.
"Do I want to take the chance of getting my stuff and having no one else see him, or do I want to stop and help a fallen Soldier and allow him to continue with the mission at another time' I was just doing my job. It was something that had to be done. Actually, we acted without thinking. The first thing I did was just run straight to (him) and acted on what I know is right."
Krause said the EIB XXI testing was fair and just, and he made a conscious decision to give up earning an EIB to help save a Soldier's life.
Leaders conducted a ceremony on Mountain Field shortly after the road march for the Soldiers who earned EIBs. Following the ceremony and a battalion formation, Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Maddi, 2-30 Inf Reg command sergeant major, gathered his Soldiers. He addressed the battalion and acknowledged Krause and Sumpter's efforts and sacrifices.
"Obviously, you realize what they gave up by doing that. They were within time, within standard, and took the ultimate hard right to sacrifice themselves for their buddy," said Maddi.
"And that just goes right along with the Warrior Ethos. You never leave a fallen comrade."
Maddi said Krause and Sumpter will have another opportunity to earn their EIBs, but he wanted to let everyone in the battalion know who they are, that they are the types of Soldiers he wants hanging around.
"So you should feel proud that these guys are around you, because really the EIB is ... just a badge," said Maddi.
"It is important and hard to get, but it is what comes from your gut and your heart that really makes you a Soldier."