VICENZA, Italy -- One officer and one enlisted Soldier assigned to Public Health Command Europe earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge on their first try during a grueling three-week testing event conducted by the 173rd Infantry Brigade at Caserma Del Din.
The final event, a 12-mile road march and an M4 proficiency test, was followed by an award and graduation ceremony hosted by Maj. Gen. Todd R. Wasmund, Commanding General U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, at the Caserma Del Din Parade Field on November 9.
The EFMB is one of the toughest and most highly sought-after U.S. Army special skill badges. Of the many Soldiers who compete for the badge annually, few successfully obtain the prestigious award.
According to the EFMB Test Control Office, the EFMB test event pass rate for fiscal year 2021 was 27 percent.
The EFMB test event began October 24 with six Soldiers from PHCE, starting with a two week standardization, or familiarization, phase.
For nearly three weeks, the candidates were challenged with technically rigorous and physically demanding fitness assessments, as well as having to complete advanced day and night land navigation at the mountains of Asiago.
Successful candidates demonstrated proficiency in warrior skills, evacuation skills, a litter obstacle course, an arduous tactical combat casualty care lane under simulated combat conditions, a 12-mile road march, and a weapons proficiency exam.
Thirty-one percent of the 218 medical branch troops who sought the Expert Field Medical Badge succeeded.
Lt. Alejandro Davila, Public Health Command Europe brigade S1, and Sgt. Stephanie Hardin, an animal care specialist, were the two PHCE recipients of the expert field medical badge.
“I decided to go for it when I had the opportunity,” said Davila. “Less than 10% of the Army medical community have the badge; I wanted to set myself apart from my peers and challenge myself personally. So I gave it a shot.”
According to Hardin, EFMB was an incredible experience.
“It was physically and mentally challenging and pushed all of us to dig deep for courage, strength, and perseverance; the stuff that Soldiers are made of. I encourage anyone who is considering challenging an Expert Badge to go for it!”, added Hardin. “For me, the learning, the comradery, and the overall experience was just as valuable as the badge itself.”
Three PHCE Soldiers re-tested and qualified to compete again in Ft. Irwin, California, later this year.
“I struggled during land navigation but I’m looking forward to competing again in two weeks,” said Sgt. David Poppick. “I want to prove to myself that I can achieve the goals that I set for myself and obtain the highly coveted badge.”