FORT STEWART, Ga. – The U.S. Army Expert Infantry Badge, or EIB, is awarded to Soldiers who demonstrate proficiency in infantry skills and tactics over a two week train-up and one week of testing that ranges from first aid, to call for fire, to movement under fire, to map reading, and to a weapons proficiency. But for one soldier, earning his EIB was only the beginning of his journey to becoming an early expert.
Sgt. Caleb Zimmerman, a native from Wichita, Kansas, assigned to the "Hound Battalion," 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, "Spartan Brigade," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, joined the U.S. Army on Nov. 7, 2017, as an infantryman and attended infantry one station unit training at Fort Benning.
While Zimmerman has a family history of serving in the U.S. military, he says his main inspiration for joining came from his dad, who he calls "pops."
“Growing up, I didn’t have a father figure in my life, but I was introduced to him when I was 15 years old. Since then, he has been that missing piece that I’ve always wanted,” Zimmerman explained. “He told me about his military experience and has given me so much advice that has helped me throughout my Army career and in life so far.”
Zimmerman took his pop's advice to heart as he began his Army career. He received his EIB while stationed in Italy with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in November 2020. Upon his return to Fort Stewart, Zimmerman passed the promotion board and attended professional military educational school for sergeants called Basic Leadership Course. Sooner after, he received a school slot for the U.S. Army Ranger School that would begin June 27, 2021, an opportunity he was eager to have.
“It took me a while to go to Ranger School because I didn’t think I was ready for that type of challenge,” Zimmerman admitted. “I wanted to be more experienced in my craft because I knew being in the infantry would help a lot, especially because of the battle drills and other physical and mental aspects. I prepared myself and made it happen.”
Zimmerman graduated Ranger School on Aug. 27, 2021. He credits his success to asking lots of questions, doing his job, constant battle drills and teamwork. His experience at Ranger School was one of pride and determination.
“Ranger school was amazing and definitely lived up to its name of being the hardest school in the Army in my opinion. It was very challenging because you push yourself literally every day, but I would do it all again if I had to.”
He said to get through the school, everyone had to work together.
“It’s all about teamwork because no tabbed soldier got it by themselves; we did it together,” said Zimmerman. “Teamwork is everything in the Army, you’re always going to have someone there to help. It provides more opportunity for Soldiers to share ideas to help accomplish the mission.”
Though Zimmerman reached goal of obtaining his Ranger tab, his journey is far from over.
“His drive for his military career is beyond ambitious,” said Sgt. Damien Truesdale, a fellow Soldier also assigned to 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. “Every goal he sets to accomplish, he creates a blueprint of the bigger picture. He puts in the extra work on his own time daily to get himself ready for any Soldier task at hand.”
According to Truesdale, Zimmerman also uses that same drive with his Soldiers.
“As a noncommissioned officer, Zimmerman strives to take charge and lead appropriately in teaching, mentoring and guiding Soldiers to be better than himself,” said Truesdale.
Zimmerman sets standards for himself higher and credits his mentors for much of his success. His advice to other Soldiers is to go after what you want.
“I live by the motto ‘you’ll always be what you’ve been if you always do what you’ve always done,’” said Zimmerman, "To me, this means keep at it. Do your job to the best of your ability and take what you’ve learned from good and bad leadership, define that knowledge as your own and then apply it. If you want to make the Army better, then the only thing stopping that is you.”
He leaves for his next duty station at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in November 2021 and plans to attend Air Assault School followed by Pathfinder School.