By Sgt. April D. de Armas/82nd CAB PAOApril 11, 2013
Waiting with anticipation for their turn to begin the examination, the two young medics run through the tasks they have learned over the past week one last time in their heads before taking off into the woods.
Pfcs. Christopher Moore and Taylor Corum, who serve with the 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, are striving to earn their Expert Field Medical Badges. These EFMB contenders are testing their warrior skills and medical knowledge through a written exam as well as a series of combat tactical lane casualty care tasks.
Although Moore and Corum are both new to the Army, the 82nd CAB and their jobs, they, along with more than 200 troopers from across Fort Bragg, were chosen by their commands to test their skills and attempt to earn the coveted EFMB, March 18. Capt. Robert Boler, a physician's assistant with 2nd Bn., 82nd ASLT, said that with only about a 10 percent passing rate, the EFMB is one of the hardest badges in the Army to earn. Even so, many who test for it are junior troopers. The reason behind this is that the new Soldier is fresh from basic training and their job-specific training course.
"We find that in a lot of cases, the younger Soldier has an easier time moving through the training and course test because they still have training fresh in their minds which makes it easier for them," said Boler.
It is no secret that the training is intense leading up to the EFMB testing. Units start months in advance and spend extra hours and days working on skills such as land navigation, radio familiarization and basic marksmanship to better prepare their troopers for the course.
"We have gone through a lot of land navigation and conducting radio training even on our time off," Corum said. "I don't mind though because I know it will be worth it."
Although the troopers are young, they share a desire to prove they can be the best.
Corum is 20 years old and grew up in Winslow, Az. Before he joined the Army, Corum earned his emergency medical technician certification and said he is excited to put those skills to work.
"This is why I joined the Army; I wanted to be in the medical field and I believe if I can earn this badge it will help me stand out," Corum said.
Moore hails from Orange County, Calif., and is 21 years old. and joined the Army about 15 months ago. He knew the test was going to be tough, but said he is excited to have the opportunity to showcase his new skills to try and earn such a highly-prized honor.
"I believe that this badge is the most prestigious badge that we as medics can earn, since it is one of the badges that are specific to what we do," Moore said. "I was glad that I had the opportunity given to me by my leaders."
Created on June 18, 1965, the EFMB is one of only two, job-related badges medics can earn to set themselves apart in their careers. It is considered one of the toughest to earn.
"When troopers earn the EFMB, it signifies the best of the best of the medics," said Sgt. Maj. Eric L. Anne, of the 82nd Airborne Division Surgeon's office.
After 12 years of war, the youngest generation of troopers joining the ranks may not have the opportunity to prove their skills in combat; earning the EFMB gives them a way to distinguish themselves from their peers.
"The standard is tough and if earned, it gives these medics the opportunity to shine for themselves and to their units," Anne said. Unfortunately, both Moore and Corum did not earn their badge this time around. However, they both feel they learned skills that will be with them well into the future and have better prepared them for missions to come -- including another chance at the coveted badge.
"It was really disappointing but I learned a lot and I know this has helped prepare me for what I will face next time," Moore said. Both Moore and Corum said they plan to attempt the event again in October armed with their recent training and experience.