Results are in: 57 Soldiers receive expert badges

By Emily Hileman, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

The results are in and out of 188 candidates, 57 were designated as experts and received their corresponding badges. Soldiers were tested to earn one of three badges: Expert Infantryman, Expert Field Medic and Expert Soldier, depending on their military occupation specialty. Hence the competition title: E3B. 

“These badges are more than an accolade, they are a symbol of the best,” Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commander, said at the E3B Awards Ceremony, March 31. 

Soldiers from more than 15 installations arrived at Fort Jackson three weeks ago to prove themselves worthy of their respective titles. 

Soldiers spend two weeks prior to testing  forgetting almost everything they previously knew about their roles and learning the proper methods and procedures necessary in a high-stress environment. This prepared them for the five days of rigorous testing. 

“Getting your badge is not a participation trophy. Just because you did the training does not mean you’ll get the badge at the end. Those badges are used specifically for demonstrating mastery in those tasks,” said 1st Sgt. Enick Bostick, from Company B, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment.

Bostick received his Expert Infantryman Badge in 2002 and said it was instrumental in preparing him for his first deployment to Iraq in 2003. 

“The first time I touched the 50 cal. (machine gun) and the MK 19 (grenade launcher) was during EIB and those things became second nature during my deployment,” he said.

These badges are historically difficult to achieve with a high percentage not making the cut. 

Lt. Col. Jason Dailey, chief medical officer for Moncrief Army Health Clinic, highlighted the rarity and importance of the Expert Field Medical Badge saying roughly 27% of individuals in the 68-series military occupational specialties receive the badge each year. “The EFMB is really the preeminent symbol within Army Medicine,” he said.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeannine Valencia was among one of the 57 awardees, receiving the Expert Field Medical Badge on her second attempt. Valencia, a drill sergeant with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment is also a 68G, Patient Administration Specialist. Unlike many 68-series MOSs, this role does not require the Soldier to provide care to patients, severely limiting the amount of field medical knowledge for those performing this role. “We’re not medics. This is not something we do on a day-to-day basis,” Valencia said.

During the two-week train up, Valencia was delivered devastating news: Her grandmother, whom she is the primary caretaker, had unexpectedly passed away. “She was so proud of me and my Army career,” Valencia said. “She was at every awards ceremony I’ve ever been to, she pinned me for every single promotion. I know that she loves me to be successful in the Army. It always made her so happy.”

Kelly concluded the awards ceremony by saying, “Victory on the battlefield is won by the Soldier, by the men and women doing skill level one tasks and battle drills. Armies win when they beat the enemy at the fundamentals ... the fundamentals you mastered here.”