FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Two Soldiers received special honors Friday during a ceremony at the Hilton Field Softball Complex recognizing those Soldiers who recently completed a week of tasks to earn the Expert Infantryman Badge.
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Wilkie, a drill sergeant with Company E, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was the only Soldier who received the "true blue" designation, meaning that he completed all the tasks without making any mistakes. Capt. Michelle Roberts, commander of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, was the only female Soldier who passed the test.
Wilkie and Roberts were two of 42 Soldiers who passed from a field of 97 who began the testing.
"This is the first year that (I've seen) a (woman) compete in the 27 years I've been in the Army," said Sgt. Maj. Michael Love, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Expert Infantryman Badge, or EIB, testing. "I think it's great."
Roberts, an activated National Guard Soldier, said she believes it is her duty to be trained as well as possible in Soldiering skills, which is why she did not want to pass up the opportunity to go through the test and the two-week training in preparation for the EIB.
"Male or female, we're all Soldiers first. It doesn't matter what your (military occupational specialty) is. It doesn't matter what job you do for the United States Army. You're a Soldier first," Roberts said. "It's good to have all the training under my belt. I know that if I go into combat now, I have confidence in myself, I can rely on myself, (and) my battle buddies can also rely on me."
Roberts, who is a military intelligence officer, received a certificate for meeting the EIB requirements, but will not be able to wear the badge because she comes from a non-combat arms branch. Lt. Col. Larry Murray, commander of the 2-60th, said he is proud of Roberts and all the Soldiers who tested for the EIB.
"I think it is a testament to the leadership here on Fort Jackson that this testing was open to all Soldiers, regardless of branch and gender," Murray said. "Any opportunity a Soldier gets to train on any task and be tested only makes the Soldier and our Army better."
The EIB training and testing was entirely organized and carried out by NCOs, said Master Sgt. Scott Beeson, assistant EIB NCOIC .
"Just the ability for the NCOs to come together and make an event that is as big as this is a big part of what NCOs are about here on Fort Jackson," he said.
The ceremony concluded a week of events that included a physical fitness test, day and night land navigation, the execution of 30 combat tasks on three combat lanes and a 12-mile road march carrying a 35-pound rucksack.
The EIB was created in 1944 to honor Army infantrymen.