Expert Infantryman Badge candidates map out
Expert Infantryman Badge candidates map out their points for the day land navigation testing.

Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) began testing to earn the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge March 18 at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. This badge is what many infantrymen strive to achieve by honoring their individual skills. While Old Guard Soldiers conduct ceremonies on a daily basis, it's crucial for them to maintain tactical proficiency. After spending weeks of training and testing their infantry skills, 22 of 266 Soldiers, just below 10 percent of the candidates, returned to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall with the badge this week.

Testing started with an Army physical fitness test in which the EIB candidates had to score at least 75 percent in each event for their age group. Each candidate who passed the APFT moved on to be tested on their day land navigation skills. Candidates were challenged to find three out of four points within a two hour time limit. The candidates who passed the event then moved on to night land navigation.

The same testing standards applied as candidates worked to find their points. Those passing the challenge advanced to mission focused lanes testing. Candidates rotated through urban traffic control point lane and mission patrol lanes. These new standards of testing were set to provide Soldiers with a testing environment that would be similar to what a Soldier would face while conducting missions in a combat zone. For the first time, these lanes were validated by the Fort Benning EIB committee.

"On the urban lane, a candidate would find themselves loading, firing and reducing stoppage on an M4/M16, identifying terrain features on a map, operating an advanced system improvement program radio, performing first-aid on an abdominal wound, preventing shock, performing first-aid for burns, calling for a nine-line medical evacuation, controlling a detainee using the native language of the detainee and identifying foreign weapons," said Staff Sgt.

Franklin Hayes, EIB NCOIC. After completing the mission focused lanes, candidates had to complete a 12-mile road march within three hours. Staff Sgt. Colton Smith, E Company, 4th Battalion, reached the six mile turn around point in 52 minutes and crossed the finish line first. "EIB was the most motivating experience and this badge is a permanent mark of expertise," Smith said. "Soldiers who didn't make it through testing still left with a better knowledge of their job and the ability to continue the tradition of being fit to fight." EIB is about experienced Soldiers advancing their knowledge to other Soldiers to carry on the Army's world-wide mission.

"EIB was a challenging but rewarding event," said Staff Sgt. Keith McDonald of Headquarters and Headquarters Company Regiment. "The rewarding part was training my three young Soldiers who had never done anything like this before in the Army. They told me that they learned more in those ten days then they had before and that feeling was as good as actually earning my EIB."

"That was the big difference this year: Junior leaders got a chance to put their knowledge and experience and teach these young Soldiers how to put it in a combat scenario," McDonald said.

In a badge-pinning ceremony at A.P. Hill Sunday, Maj. Matthew McCreary, HHC Regiment, received the 1st "Dam Beaver Award" for completing the day and night land navigation testing in the shortest amount of time. McCreary; Capt. James Stultz, HHC 1st Battalion; 1st Lt. Ruben Costa, A Co., 4th Battalion; 1st Lt. Brian Thompson, D Co., 1st Battalion and Staff Sgt. Keith McDonald, HHC Regiment all completed testing earning their "True Blue" EIB, which means completing all of the testing without receiving a single "no go."

"Being a 'True Blue' this year was one of the greatest feelings I have had in my time in the Army and being the only enlisted person to do it made it that much better," McDonald said. "The big motivation for getting your EIB is so that you don't have to go back out next year."

Page last updated Mon March 29th, 2010 at 00:00