Medics defy odds to earn coveted badge
June 21, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Eighteen days ago, some 190 medics from Fort Drum, as well as Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Huachuca, Ariz., began the Mountain Medic Expert Field Medical Badge training and testing lanes held June 4-15 at the Bridgewater-Vaccaro Medical Simulation Training Center Area on post.
Candidates attended a weeklong lane familiarization and training course to help prepare them for the following week of testing lanes. Those who finished the training lanes would receive a 40-hour certificate of completion before testing week. The ones who completed the testing lanes receive the badge.
To earn a badge, candidates must answer 45 of 60 questions in a written exam; complete all performance measures on more than 40 tasks in three unique training lanes; find three of four points in day and night land navigation; and complete a 12-mile foot-march within three hours.
After Day One, the number of Soldiers fighting to earn a badge had been drastically reduced. Land navigation was the enemy of most EFMB candidates, producing a loss of more than 160 Soldiers.
"Land navigation is the portion of the course most candidates fail; it has a lot to do with our operational tempo," said Maj. John Zoll, test board chairman of the EFMB lanes.
The EFMB course continued, and on June 12, only 15 candidates remained to begin the three days of combat testing lanes.
"Only 15 Soldiers are left out here," said Staff Sgt. Gary D. Brinker, assigned to A Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and testing lanes cadre member for the EFMB lanes.
"As artillerymen, we don't think about medics, but watching what they do and how hard it is to complete the stations makes me really respect these guys," Brinker said.
At the end of Day Four, six Soldiers remained to start the foot march on Friday.
"This is something you have to be dedicated to; if deep down you don't want this, you shouldn't even show up," said Pfc. Quinn T. Stoddard, a candidate and medic assigned to C Company, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Around 4:30 a.m. on Day Five, the clock began to count down and the remaining Soldiers were going to show everyone their dedication. All six Soldiers crossed the finish line, ending the 10th Mountain Division's Mountain Medics EFMB testing lanes.
An awards ceremony was held honoring the six candidates who earned the right to wear an EFMB.
Candidates credited their overall success to hard work, determination and support from their NCOs, Family Members and cadre.
"I am very proud of all the Soldiers who earned the badge. I didn't realize how hard they had to work to get it," said Courtney Terrell, wife of EFMB recipient Pfc. Michael A. Terrell, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion.