Sill Soldiers vie for Expert Infantryman Badge

By Monica WoodDecember 12, 2022

Best of the best
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Michael Stewart, commander, 434th Field Artillery Brigade, pins the Expert Soldier Badge on 2nd Lt. Julia Qiao,1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery, for being one of only four who scored perfectly on the five days of rigorous testing for the Expert Infantryman Badge/Expert Soldier Badging ceremony Dec. 9, 2022, at Vessey Hall. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL
A Dozen top Soldiers
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Ninety-nine Soldiers trained and tested for the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge / Expert Soldier Badge and only 24 made it through the five grueling days of testing to earn the badge. The 24 Soldiers who made it through the testing stand in front of the crowd in Vessey Hall for the Expert Infantryman Badge / Expert Soldier Badging Ceremony Dec. 9, 2022. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL
Top Female Soldier
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Second Lt. Julia Qiao, 1st Battalion. 30th Field Artillery, is one of only four Soldiers to get through five days of grueling testing to earn a perfect score on the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge / Expert Soldier Badge. She was one of the only women to make it through the testing. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL

Twenty-four Soldiers were celebrated by a large crowd at Vessey Hall Dec. 9, 2022, for earning the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Expert Soldier Badging Ceremony.

At the beginning of the testing, there were 99 Soldiers training trying to earn the coveted badge.

“These Soldiers succeeded at learning and mastering the fundamentals of being an infantryman and being a Soldier,” said Col. Michael Stewart, commander, 434th Field Artillery Brigade. “It comes down to we described the way in which we can test to see who has truly mastered the fundamentals of being an Infantryman and a Soldier all the way around. I think it is telling that we have seen so many attempts to train come through and get back to testing.”

Stewart said every task they tested the candidates on is not an exceptionally complex or difficult task. However, the way 434th FA Brigade tested it is an exceptionally difficult thing to do.

“The five days of testing these candidates went through is excruciating. I think they can attest to the fact that it was truly a test of their abilities, their will, and their mastery of the task,” he said. “These new badge holders we’re celebrating have accomplished something truly remarkable, because they’re ready to make our Army more ready to win wars. We win wars by mastering the fundamentals.”

Four of those 24 Soldiers had a perfect score throughout the entire five days of testing. They were presented with an Army Medal. Second Lt. Julia Qiao, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery, was one of the top four Soldiers and the only female in that group.

“I wanted to participate because it was a great opportunity. I was able to train on systems that I’ve never even seen in my life. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about so many things and to test my mental resiliency,” said Qiao.

“I was pretty nervous today because we had the final test which was a 12-mile ruck march — which isn’t my strong suit — and since I had already done four days of testing, I felt it would be a shame if those four days were for nothing,” Qiao said. “I’m happy that I passed that last event. I’m also excited to say that I’ve completed something like this testing very early in my Army career.”

Qiao said she would encourage other Soldiers to go for it. “Even if you don’t receive the badge, it’s a great training opportunity I would do again and again until I got it,” she said. “It gave me the opportunity to test myself and helped me progress along in my career. I would like to thank my cadre members, my college class mates, and my peers for supporting me through everything.”