HINESVILLE, Ga. - Following a tradition that began in 1943,
almost 900 infantryman competed for the coveted Expert
Infantryman Badge on March 30, 2014. Fort Stewart hosted the
event for Army personnel holding the occupation of infantry
or special forces. Of those competing for the 3-inch-wide
blue badge, only eleven were Guardsmen, from the 48th
Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
First Lt. Ryan Giles from Covington's Bravo Company, 1st Battalion
121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team clears an
M240B machine gun after firing rounds during the Expert Infantry
Badge Test on April 2, 2014 at Fort Stewart. (Georgia Army National
Guard photo by Spc. Ashely Campbell)
“I'm proud to represent the Guard and want to thank my chain
of command for the opportunity,” said Sgt. Kyle Jones, an
infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st
Battalion 121st Infantry.
Soldiers have to qualify
expert with their assigned weapons before entering the
competition. The first day of EIB testing began with 898
officers and enlisted Soldiers aiming for 75 percent in each
event of the Army Physical Fitness Test. The day continued
with the first portion of master skill set, where Soldiers
were tested on the M4 rifle, M249 machine gun and Mk19
grenade launcher, before moving on to the traffic control
point lane. At the end of the day, only 589 Soldiers began
preparations for day two of testing at Camp Oliver.
“I have gained plenty of knowledge and experience on both
weapon systems and tasks, while also familiarizing myself
through these events,” said Spc. John Pettas, an infantryman
with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 121st Infantry.
the second day of testing, five Guardsmen from 1-121st
Infantry Regiment demonstrated their master skills on the M2
machine gun, M136 rocket launcher and M320 grenade launcher.
Candidates moved on to performing first aid, searching a
detainee, donning protective mask and visual signaling
techniques in the urban operations lane.
standard training that gets overlooked because we're not as
hands-on with the common soldier tasks anymore. This gives
us a good foundation to build upon when dealing with things
under pressure,” stated 1st Lt. Johnathan Whitmire,
Executive Officer for Charlie Company, 1st Battalion 121st
Four Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers
stood proud amongst the 255 remaining competitors at day
three first formation. After a grueling land navigation
course, completed both in daytime and at night, three
muddied but resilient Guardsmen remained.
“If you can
shoot, land navigate, be physically fit and can ruck march,
the rest you will learn in training if you pay attention,”
encouraged 1st Lt. Ryan Giles, when asked for advice to
Soldiers wanting to earn a badge.
Day four concluded
the master skill set with M9 pistol and M240B machine gun
testing. By now, only 106 remain with only a few candidates
labeled “true blue” because they passed every event on the
first attempt. First Lieutenant Ryan Giles, Executive
Officer for Bravo Company, 1-121st Infantry, is one of the
few. The day continued with identifying grenades, reacting
to unexploded ordinance on the patrol lane.
taken a lot of work, it's a pretty intense course, it met
all the expectations as far as difficulty but it feels
great. As we get closer to the end, it gets more and more
stressful, the pressure is higher at each event because you
are so close to the end,” continued Giles.
well deserved rest, 94 candidates road marched 12 miles to
their graduation ceremony on Cottrell Field. Georgia
Guardsmen 1st Lt. Giles and Staff Sgt. Norman McFaddin, team
leader with Charlie Company, 1-121 Infantry, were awarded
their badges to symbolize their proficiency in infantry
More photos available below
By U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Rachel Dryden
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