By Capt. Olivia Cobiskey, 205th Infantry Brigade Public AffairsAugust 27, 2013
CAMP GRAYLING, Mich. -- Capt. Christopher Moore is "true blue."
To be "true blue" and earn the Expert Infantryman Badge, a Soldier must complete all tests without a single no-go. Moore was the sole "true blue" EIB recipient out of three Soldiers to earn the prestigious badge during an EIB Course at Camp Grayling, Mich., Aug. 14.
"Take nothing for granted," said Moore, commander of Alpha Company, 1-293rd Infantry Battalion, Indiana National Guard. "The easiest tasks are the one's people usually forget."
For Moore, it was straight-line distance on a map that stopped him the last time he took the test; however, his perseverance and hard work paid off.
"The training week is very important, it's where you unlearn bad habits you might have learned at the unit level," Moore said. "It's when you learn balance -- move to fast you forget little tasks, move to slow you run out of time. It's a great way to train Soldiers on individual tasks."
Reserve Component units are more frequently turning to First Army to assist them in maintaining their readiness.
"Events like these are resource intensive," said Command Sgt. Maj. David Pitt, the senior enlisted advisor for the 1-335th Infantry Battalion, Camp Atterbury, Ind.
For this most recent EIB event at Camp Grayling, the Michigan National Guard used trainer/mentors from the 205th Inf. Bde and from the Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan National Guard because they didn't have the Soldiers in their own ranks. The 1-335 trainer/mentors provided five days of training before the five days of testing.
"By having the 205th Infantry Brigade host the event, it allows the National Guard units to focus on its EIB candidates," he said.
Pitt's battalion, the 1-335th Inf Bn, 205th Inf Bde, First Army Division East, is uniquely qualified to cadre the EIB event: more than 70 percent of the 1-335th Soldiers have earned the prestigious badge.
This was the second EIB course 205th Infantry Brigade trainer/mentors were asked to cadre. In June 2013, the 1-148th Infantry Regiment, Indiana National Guard, invited the 1-335th Inf Bn to help train and run the course at Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center, Ohio. The unit started with 122 candidates, and after three days of grueling evaluations eight earned the EIB distinction.
The attrition rate might seem high; however, historically many men will try, and few will succeed, said Pitt, who earned his badge at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1996.
"It's not meant to be easy," said 2nd Lt. Matthew Lafleur, Alpha Company, 1-293rd Infantry Battalion. "The EIB is held so close to the infantryman's heart, it is visible proof that you are an expert in your field."
Lafleur is one of the Viking Brigade's success stories. He earned the coveted EIB in June during the first EIB event the 1-335th Infantry Battalion helped sponsor in Ohio.
"It was one of the most professional NCO corps I've worked with in a training environment," Lafleur said of the Viking Brigade trainer/mentors.
Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan Merkel, 1-125th Infantry Regiment, said the Michigan National Guard is looking forward to the 205th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, coordinating the EIB event next year.
"To run an event like this takes a large amount of resources and personnel," said Merkel, who earned his EIB -- on his first try -- in 1991 in Baumholder, Germany. "For a National Guard unit to do it, they have to plan a year out. That's difficult when you only have the guys one weekend a month."
For all involved it's worth the effort in training and testing to complete the prestigious event which began in 1944 at Fort Bragg, N.C. Of the 100 NCOs who began the first event, only 10 remained for the final. And at the conclusion of the final event, an interview, only one infantryman would be awarded the EIB -- Technical Sgt. Walter Bull.