Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commanding general, and Post Command Sgt. Maj. Philson Tavernier pin the Expert Soldier Badge on Soldiers who completed all testing with a first-time ‘GO’ during a pinning ceremony April 22, 2022. These awardees were considered the best of the best for passing all lanes earning the additional title of Straight Edge.

E3B testing ends, 72 make the cut

By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

After six weeks of preparation, two weeks of train-up and one week of rigorous testing, 72 make the cut and earn the title of expert.

About 180 candidates arrived to Fort Jackson three weeks ago to compete for the Expert Infantry, Expert Soldiers and Expert Field Medical Badge, now referred to as E3B. More than half didn’t make the cut.

The 72 that did gather on Darby Field April 22 received their respective badge.

“There is a huge crowd here, for all the right reason,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson commanding general. “That reason is to celebrate excellence.”

Michaelis and Post Command Sgt. Maj. Philson Tavernier along with Brig. Gen. Mary Kreuger, Health Command Atlantic’s commanding general, celebrated the victory of each candidate.

During the last week of March, more than 100 support cadre and badge holders welcomed almost 180 candidates from across the East Coast to begin two weeks of lane training where candidates got their first taste of what the testing lanes would be like. For many candidates the train-up was essential and offered them their first hands-on experience with some of the equipment they used during testing.

“Not everyone has access to an MK-19,” said Sgt. Maj. Reggie Fox, the EIB and ESB testing president. “The train-up let them get their hands on the weapon system before they tested.”

Each badge required individual, rigorous tests of the Warrior Task and Skills of each Soldier. Each task tested involved numerous steps that had to be completed in order and in the given amount of time to receive a ‘GO’ and pass on to the next task. Some tasks had as many as 35 steps.

Once the two weeks were complete, the final testing began and the stress was on.

“Having to get everything right and making very few mistakes throughout the week made it challenging and that’s why we lost so many people,” said Maj. Andrew Jenzer, a maxillofacial surgeon from Fort Gordon, Georgia, who earned the EFMB.

“I took it one lane at a time,” said Staff Sgt. Carlecia Richardson, a drill sergeant assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment and ESB candidate. “I can’t worry about any other task other than the one I’m focusing on.”

The final day of the test, candidates started a 12-mile ruck march before the sun broke over the horizon. Exhausted, the candidates that finished in the three-hour time limit were happy to know they had earned their badge and would be returning home soon for some much need rest and relaxation.

“It’s about perseverance and hard work,” said Staff Sgt. Dante Salcedo, a drill sergeant assigned to 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment. “I did this last year but failed. Now that I I’ve made it, I’m ready to take my Family to a brunch and get back some of the calories I lost this week.”

The day ended for the awardees with a pinning ceremony on Darby Field. Michaelis, Krueger and Tavernier were the first to pin the badges on awardees that received a ‘GO’ at all their testing lanes.

The top awardees to receive all ‘GO’ in their lanes earned an additional title; of the 17 EIB awardees, five earned True Blue, of the 41 ESB awardees 16 earned Straight Edge, and of the 14 EFMB awardees one was named Best Candidate.

Once pinned, the distinguished awardees exited the field. Family and unit members were invited to the field to pin the remaining awardees. Families rushed the field to reunite with their loved ones as unit members hugged and high-fived their awardee.

“Congratulations to all of you,” Michaelis said. “You knew that the norm was not enough and you wanted to be identified as an expert. You have proved that here today.

“You now have an obligation to the team, section, squad, and platoon level to instill those skills you have walked away from the course of the last three weeks into your formation. Those are the fundamental skills that carry our Army no matter where it’s at in the world or what mission it has.”