FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "I am an expert and a professional," a line from the Soldier's Creed, represents two things troops should strive to be. But how does a Soldier meter his or her individual worth?

Some Soldiers will meet or exceed standards set by themselves or their supervisors, ultimately validating that they have achieved excellence while maintaining a high level of professionalism.

For some 730 infantrymen from 2nd Brigade Combat Team this is what they set out to do May 14-18 by earning their Expert Infantryman's Badge on Fort Drum.

The testing lanes began with the Army Physical Fitness Test followed by day and night land navigation.

These two events prove to be a fatal combination, resulting in the majority of Soldiers being dropped from the course due to not achieving the minimum standard of three out of five land navigation points found and a score of 75 percent in each of the APFT testing events.

"These two events are probably the hardest of all the events; they seem to weed out the people who don't want to be here," said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph K. Heingarten, noncommissioned officer in charge of the land navigation course.

Heingarten is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment.

Soldiers surviving Day 1 would navigate their way through three training lanes, each containing 10 basic infantryman's tasks. Tasks included treating a casualty, calling for fire, and reporting unexploded munitions.

"I have never run through so many tests back to back before," said Pfc. Travis K. Cobb, an EIB candidate assigned to C Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment.

"I feel much more confident," he added. "Now everything feels like muscle memory."

Confident and ready Soldiers began Day 5 with a 12-mile road march that must be completed in less than three hours.

The final qualifying Soldier crossed the finish line as the three-hour time limit expired, marking the end of a five-day journey to excellence.

An awards ceremony was held shortly after to honor the 112 Commando Soldiers and three Pathfinders who completed the EIB lanes and earned the right to wear the badge.

"Soldiers who complete this course represent the standard of excellence in their jobs," said 1st Lt. Anthony P. Mollica, a platoon leader with C Company, 4-31 Infantry.

Notable performers were 1st Lt. Stephen L. Bruner of HHC, 4-31 Infantry, and 1st. Lt. Steven M. Codey of D Company, 4-31 Infantry, the only Soldiers to complete all tasks without fail, earning them the title of "True Blue." First Lt. Oleg Y. Sheynfeld and 2nd Lt. Yevgen Gutman, both of HHC, 4-31 Infantry, finished the 12-mile road march with the fastest time of 2:13.4.

Page last updated Thu May 31st, 2012 at 00:00