FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- After one week of validation, one week of training and one week of testing, two Fort Jackson Soldiers can now call themselves "true blue."

Yesterday marked the end of this year's Expert Infantryman Badge competition, making 10 noncommissioned officers and two officers the newest recipients of the blue badge.

Two of those Soldiers, Staff Sgt. Joshua King, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, and Staff Sgt. Juan Hernandez, Company A, 1st Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment, earned the title of "true blue." True blue Soldiers are those who earn the EIB without any "no gos." A "no go" means the EIB candidate failed to pass a particular task. A candidate who gets a "no go" on a task gets one more chance to re-test. A failure at the same station, or more than two from all stations, puts him out of the competition.

Although 124 Soldiers were eligible to compete for the EIB, only 34 passed the prerequisites necessary to move on to the competition, said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Whaley, the event's noncommissioned office-in-charge. Only Soldiers who have a military occupational specialty of 11B, or infantryman, can compete for the actual award. They must have scored at least 75 percent in an Army Physical Fitness test, complete a land navigation course and finish a 12-mile road march within three hours.

For an infantryman, the blue badge with the silver rifle is a symbol of pride. A Soldier who spots the badge on the uniform of a NCO or officer knows that infantry is an expert in his field, Whaley said.

"For the EIB, in today's Army, that Soldier knows what that badge means," he said. "I would want a guy on my team who had an EIB."

Soldiers competed in 34 tasks, including tests in assembling various weapons, camouflage techniques, hand grenade throwing, first aid, using a claymore mine and firing a .50 caliber machine gun.

Whaley said the completely NCO-run event not only gives Soldiers the chance to earn a coveted award, it shows what being a NCO is all about.

"It's about getting the NCOs together and showing what we can do as a NCO corps," he said. "Being the year of the NCO, this is the root of what we do -- training."