By U.S. ArmyDecember 1, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - Approximately 150 Soldiers, assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division "Long Knives," stood in a single file formation at a windy Fort Hood Stadium Nov. 16 to begin the grueling week-long process of qualifying for an Expert Infantry Badge (EIB).
The first task was the Army Physical Fitness Test, where the candidates had to score at least a 75 percent in push-ups, sit-ups and running to move on to the next phase of the testing.
"It was real windy out there, but it's just a mental thing." said Staff Sgt. Sidney Lintuan, assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment.
The Long Knife Soldiers were also required to complete 36 vigorous common tasks, day and night land navigation and finally a 12-mile road march Nov 23.
The land navigation seemed to be the biggest hurdle, considering only 14 Infantrymen were still in the running once that portion of the event was complete.
Pvt. Jarrick Rehn, Company A, 2nd Bn., 7th Cav. Regt., was one of the 14 who successfully completed every task, and was also second to finish the road march with a blazing time of two hours and 25 minutes.
"Makes me feel good inside," shouted a relieved Rehn, from Tacoma, Wash. "My father is going to be so proud of me," he added, as he wiped the pool of sweat off his face after crossing the finish line.
The 17-year-old Combat Infantryman received special recognition for having the second fastest time of the group, and said earning his EIB is just the beginning. "It's a great career starter; I also plan to go Special Forces when I'm old enough (21)." Reighn added.
Joshua Hester, an EIB instructor and grader assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Co., from Amarillo, Texas, said, "It's pretty amazing; the fact they paid attention and listened to us, and now they've achieved their goal, and they're wearing their EIB just like I am."
The EIB was initiated in 1944 by the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George C. Marshall, to honor the U.S. Army Infantrymen for their tough, hard hitting role in combat operations. The test is administered by units on the average of once per year, with a less than 10 percent pass rate.
The fact that Soldiers usually don't qualify for the EIB on their first try, led many of the candidates to start training as early as six months ago, when the unit returned from its deployment in southern Iraq.
"Today's training was all about the Infantryman, and what the Infantryman is about," said the III Corps and Fort Hood Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur Coleman Jr. "What you get out of it in the long road is a better trained Soldier at the end of the training itself."
Coleman earned his EIB 30 years ago in Korea as a private first class. "When you talk about Soldiers who can zero, qualify and shoot with their individual weapons, all the medical stations that went along with it, across the board, that just makes us better infantryman," he said.
According to the Long Knife's Brigade Commander, Col. Brian Winski, the best part about the testing is how it directly relates to the tasks the Soldiers will execute in combat.
"That's the great thing about this new (EIB) program; the unit builds the tasks that they're going to test the candidates on," explained Winski. "There's a lot of flexibility, and it's much more combat focused than it has been in the past."
Winski said the program also show cases the excellence of the Army's NCO Corps. "They plan it, resource it, they run our Soldiers through and formerly assess them; it gives our young troopers a chance to see all of our NCOS in their absolute perfect element."
The list of EIB awardees include: Sgt. Robert Figlioli, 2nd Lt. Daniel Fritz, 1st Lt. John Kim, Capt. Bengamin Jackman, 2nd Lt. Michael Agbay, Sgt. Eddie Baker, Sgt. Gustavo Castano, Sgt. Vuthy Ham, Pfc. Ralph Hueffmeier, Spc. Clint Wilhoit, Staff Sgt. Steven Sabo, Pfc. Jarrick Rehn, Staff Sgt. Sidney Lintuan and Spc. Joshua White.