Expert infantrymen forged in Alaska
Spc. Christopher Weber, A Co, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, moves under direct fire during the patrol portion of the Expert Infantryman Badge competition at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Sixty-two paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division earned the EIB during the April 11-15 competition.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARSON, Alaska -- Sixty-two paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division here earned the right April 15 to pin on one of the most coveted awards a Soldier can wear.

The Expert Infantryman Badge is considered a mark of excellence, as it requires infantry Soldiers to demonstrate tactical and technical mastery of combat skills and superior physical conditioning.

The competition's attrition rate is high and many candidates make several attempts before they earn the right to wear it.

More than 600 paratroopers from 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry, and 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry vied for the honor, taking on a rigorous series of tests of both physical and mental endurance.

By the April 15 award ceremony, only 62 paratroopers were left to claim the badge. Paratroopers conducted the Army Physical Fitness Test as the first requirement to advance to the next area of evaluation; land navigation in both day and night conditions.

For those who passed the requirements of land navigation, the next three days were filled with testing lanes designed to push and challenge even the most energetic and trained of paratroopers.

There werew three main lanes of testing, each with 10 testable events and a 20-minute time limit per lane.

"If a testing soldier fails more than three events per lane, they're done," Master Sgt. Frank Rael, operations NCO for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4-25th ABCT said. If they fail six overall events, they're done. This is a very difficult test."

Moving through the urban-warfare lane of testing on the final day, Sgt. Damien Remijo, D Company, 1-501st, cleared several rooms at the Bauemeister Military Operations in Urban Terrain site as he was evaluated by graders who had already earned their EIBs, a strict requirement for the competition's evaluators.

"This was just great training, hands down," Remijo said. "We did rehearsals prior to the lanes this week that I think really helped during the testing phase."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16