FORT BRAGG, N.C. — “I can do this!” Those four words were the driving force pushing Sgt. Romario Williams to run through the finish line of the 12-mile foot march on his journey to earn the title of Expert Field Medic.
Williams, assigned to the Eisenhower Army Medical Center out of Fort Gordon, Ga., earned the Expert Field Medical Badge after a week-long event testing his strength, resilience and mental fortitude Oct. 28 on Fort Bragg, N.C. For Williams, this was his third attempt at earning the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge, or EFMB.
“I feel like I’m on cloud nine,” said Williams. “One year ago, I tried for the badge and here I am 365 days later. I feel like a champion.”
The EFMB is the non-combat equivalent of the Combat Medical Badge, and the event consists of a physical fitness assessment, written test, day and night land navigation, three combat testing lanes and concludes with a 12-mile foot march.
This year, Fort Bragg’s very own 44th Medical Brigade hosted the EFMB competition with 150 participants from across the U.S. Army. The objective of the rigorous testing was to challenge each competitor both physically and mentally. To earn the badge, Soldiers had to display their exceptional competence and outstanding performance in various areas of the medical field. By the end of the qualification, only 39 participants out of more than 150 Soldiers passed all requirements and were pinned the esteemed badge on Pike Field on a beautiful Fall morning.
Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the 45th Surgeon General of the United States Army and commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command, solidified the dedication it takes to earn the coveted badge in his speech during the pinning ceremony.
“Many are called but few are chosen,” said Dingle. “Yet even fewer have the intestinal fortitude and courage to compete for the Expert Field Medical Badge.”
During the event, Williams completed multiple demanding tasks that displayed his skills and knowledge of tactical combat casualty care and physical excellence. Williams said his command team was there to support him through every physical and mental obstacle of this rigorous testing.
“My biggest motivation was coming out here and seeing my command team here with me,” said Williams. “They drove up here in the middle of the night and said they’d be here every step of the way with me and that means a lot.”
The EFMB is no small feat and requires perseverance and commitment to attain this badge. According to current statistics kept by the XVIII Airborne Corps, the current pass rate is only 29% for this fiscal year thus far. Knowing this, Williams refused to give up.
“I’m proud of myself for not giving up,” he said. “My first EFMB attempt was heartbreaking. The second one was a little more heartbreaking, but with the third one, not giving up was the key.”
The EFMB sets apart expert medics from their peers and validates professional distinction to the medical profession. After earning the badge and title of Expert Field Medic, Williams plans to pass on his knowledge to other Soldiers, preparing and motivating them to challenge themselves.
“Don’t stop trying,” said Williams. “If it’s your first, or fourth, or 100th time trying the EFMB, don’t stop trying. It’s worth it.”