KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Eleven Soldiers from Regional Health Command Europe earned the Expert Field Medical Badge during a ceremony Sept. 23 at Rhine Ordnance Barracks in Kaiserslautern.
Statistically across the Army, only around 20% of those who compete earn the badge which is designed to test Soldiers both physically and mentally during 144 hours of testing.
A total of 128 candidates competed in this iteration of EFMB, which was hosted by the 30th Medical Brigade. Not only did it include Soldiers from across U.S. Army Europe and RHCE, but three international competitors from Kosovo and two from Italy. Of the 128 that started the competition, only 27 earned the right to wear the badge.
Brig. Gen. Mark Thompson, Regional Health Command Europe’s commanding general and the U.S. Army Europe command surgeon, spoke at the award ceremony.
“Each Soldier receiving their EFMB today poured their heart and soul into this competition,” said Thompson. “They spent countless hours training, studying and preparing for the chance to test their mettle against one of our Army’s most difficult challenges. I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of you.”
Competitors underwent testing focused on communication and warrior and medical tasks, and had to pass an 80-question written exam. They also successfully completed mock scenarios with tasks that included triage, casualty evacuation, and emergency medical treatment in a simulated wartime environment. It culminated with a 12-mile ruck march that had to be completed in less than three hours.
“This was my second time competing for EFMB after initially trying in Korea in 2014,” said Capt. Ivan Lopez, the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment commander with Public Health Command Europe. “Preparation and keeping a positive attitude is what I learned from that first time. Earning this feels good. I feel accomplished.”
Of the 33 Soldiers from throughout RHCE that competed, 1st Lt. Paige Runco was also one of the 11 to earn her badge. Runco, a first time competitor, is currently the hospital adjutant at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“This definitely tested our limits but we learned a lot,” said Runco. “We shed some tears, we smiled and we made it. I challenged myself and now I’m excited to help others accomplish the same thing.”
The EFMB was established in June 1965 as a Department of the Army special skill award for the recognition of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel. Made of oxidized silver, the badge consists of a litter, placed horizontally, behind a caduceus with the cross of the Geneva Convention at the junction of the wings.
The 11 RHCE badge earners were: 1st Lt. Aaron Higa, 1st Lt. Paige Runco, Capt Ivan Lopez, Capt. David Beach, Capt. Shannon Kirchmer, Sgt. Mark Kogo, Sgt. Michael Metcalf, Sgt. Ryan Richter, Spc. Walter Galdamez, Tech Sgt. Adam Cardoza and Tech Sgt. Michael Kile.