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Soldiers overcome challenges to earn EFMB

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One-hundred seventy Soldiers attempted to earn the toughest badge in the Army during the Expert Field Medical Badge train-up and assessment, here, Oct. 29-Nov. 8.

"(The Expert Field Medical Badge) takes study, discipline, expertise, guts, physical effort and the desire to drive on and meet all the objectives," said Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific.

"It's not just a symbol of proficiency; it's a symbol of the heart and the guts that it takes," Wiercinski said.

Assessment began with a comprehensive written test, Nov. 3, which has about a 75 percent pass rate.

In the following days, Soldiers conducted three grueling combat test lanes specifically designed to simulate real combat scenarios and night and day land navigation.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Thetchampa, platoon sergeant, 70th Engineer Company, 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the land navigation course.

"We're here to make everyone sitting here on these bleachers successful," he said, during the train-up.

"The candidates have been 'getting it' well. That really shows me they did some training before coming here," Thetchampa said. "It's rewarding (to be a part of the train-up), because some of these guys are going to earn their badge."

The train-up ran Oct. 29-Nov. 2 and paid off for a number of candidates.

Testing concluded with an arduous 12-mile road march around Wheeler Army Airfield. This final test was too much for a number of candidates, after experiencing severe mental and physical fatigue from the days prior.

"Nothing is guaranteed until you cross that line," said Sgt. 1st Class Jerome MacDonald, senior medic, 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, as he anxiously waited for one of his medics to cross the finish line.

Forty-six Soldiers made it to the graduation ceremony, receiving the Expert Field Medical Badge in a ceremony held at Area X, here, Nov. 8.

The pass rate was an unusual high of 27 percent; the average pass rate for the EFMB is around 17 percent.

"That's huge," commented Wiercinski, "and it's not because the instructors, or graders, or the terrain was any easier (on) any other Soldiers going through their EFMB (testing). It's probably tougher here because of the terrain.

"For those of you who did not make it … next year. You know what you missed; you know how hard it was," Wiercinski added. "Go out there and get the toughest badge we have in the United States Army!"

Article by 1st Lt. Grant Taulbee, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command