By Spc. Bailey Kramer, 1BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsOctober 31, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Joining the Army a little more than a year ago, one 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Soldier has already made a name for herself.
Union, Mo. native, Pfc. Christina Garcia, a combat medic assigned to Company C, 115th Brigade Support Battalion of the Ironhorse Brigade, was one of 230 medical Soldiers to participate in the Expert Field Medical Badge Competition, here, Sept. 29 to Oct. 4.
Upon completion of the EFMB Competition only 22 competitors remained, Garcia not only being one of the few, but she stood as the sole 1st Cav. Div. "First Team" finisher.
"I could not be more proud of her," said Garcia's first sergeant, Summerville, S.C. native, Sgt. 1st Class Kimberly Leonard. "With 234 candidates only 22 passed, only 22 got the badge."
Earning the highly coveted EFMB is not an easy task Leonard explained.
One afternoon the command team entered C Co. and asked who wanted to compete for the badge.
"After (the command team) asked, all of us new medics were just like, 'I don't know what it is, but I'll do it," chuckled Garcia.
Soon after volunteering to compete for the badge they began training, which lasted about two weeks prior to the event.
"Every day we were practicing a different task," Garcia said about their unit training.
The morning of Sept. 24, Garcia and 21 other Ironhorse Soldiers stood ready to compete. "I wasn't a primary candidate, I was only an alternate," Garcia said about her first day. "I wanted to be like, look, I can do it."
Medics are a natural competitive group, Leonard said about Garcia's competitive personality. "They are competing against themselves. There are so many criteria in a technical and tactical portion; you have to not only be a good medic, but a good Soldier."
The first five days of the competition was familiarizing the participants with the standards of the competitions.
"The events are a sequential thing," Leonard said about the importance of attention to detail. "You can get a no-go for going steps 1-3-5 instead of 1-2-3-4-5."
The competition included many of the tasks they covered during their unit training: liter carries and putting them on the back of different military vehicles, assembling and disassembling radios, M-4s, M-16s and M-9s, and various medical skills.
"I really enjoyed doing the medic lanes," Garcia said about her favorite event. "I was actually getting to use the skills I learned in (Advanced Individual Training). It was the one I was most comfortable with and it was fun."
Although there were many memorial events for Garcia, and she enjoyed herself, it wasn't an easy adventure for her.
"The (evacuation) lane was physically challenging," Garcia said about the most trying event. "There was a lot of moving, over and under objects and we had to do a low crawl with a litter under barbed wire."
Upon completing the event, Garcia now has a newfound confidence in herself and medical abilities.
"This competition gave me a lot of confidence in myself as a medic. I worked really hard for it and it's something no one can ever take away from me. I literally put blood, sweat and tears into this," Garcia said, remembering the rain, mud and falling in a creek. "I feel as though this competition has opened a lot of doors for me."
Garcia isn't the only one who believes in the number of opportunities this accomplishment has opened for her.
"Earning her badge as a (private first class), she has set herself well above her peers," Leonard said about her Soldier. "She is setting herself more competitive for her career."
When crossing the finish line of the final event, a 12-mile road march, Leonard was standing there waiting for her.
"I literally caught her as she crossed the finish line," Leonard said of the exhausted participant. "I realized she was the only one from our unit left, I couldn't have been more proud."
Upon arriving at the field to receive her badge, Garcia learned she was not only the sole Ironhorse recipient, but also the only Soldier from the First Team to earn an EFMB during this testing.
"It felt pretty good," Garcia said about her feelings on learning her standing throughout the division. "Everyone did a really good job, I just happened to get a little further than they did. This whole experience has been a confidence booster."
While Garcia is still new to the Army, completing the EFMB was a big motivator for Garcia to excel in the military, but she hasn't quite decided if she wants to make it a career.
"I don't know what I want to do with the Army," Garcia said about her thoughts on a military career. "It is really kind of quick to tell, I have only been in the Army for a year. So far, I love it, I love the camaraderie. I could definitely see myself making it a career."
Garcia has a slot waiting for her at Air Assault School once her feet have healed. She also hopes to attend flight medic school and become airborne qualified.
"I really appreciate all the help and support I got from my chain of command and fellow Soldiers," Garcia concluded. "I wouldn't have been able to do it without them."