Fifty-five paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82

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Airborne Division, received their Expert Infantryman Badge Nov. 8, at Pike Field.  The EIB is a special skills badge that is presented for completion of a course of testing designed to demonstrate proficiency in infantry skills.

The infantrymen began the weeklong EIB testing with the Army Physical Fitness Test and the daytime land navigation course, which really tested the paratroopers who completed a week of EIB train-up prior to the actual testing.

“Our biggest obstacle was probably the PT test,” said Master Sgt. Aaron Forry, the noncommissioned officer in charge of EIB testing. “We started with 542 and were down to 126 at the start of day three.”

The paratroopers were put through a number of events that tested their skills as infantrymen.  Along with the APFT, on which they had to score at least 75 percent in each event, they were put through three combat-oriented lanes and graded on different tasks on each lane.

As the they maneuvered through each lane, paratroopers had to use basic infantry skills ranging from identifying terrain features, moving under direct fire, loading and unloading, and correcting malfunctions on various weapons systems, performing first aid on various wounds, calling for a medical evacuation, calling for and adjusting indirect fire support, and sending situation reports to a headquarters element.

“Weapons proficiency is one of the biggest tasks being covered,” said Forry.  “We have nine different weapons systems on the lanes and you have to be able to maintain, operate and know how to use those weapons,” he said.

“Earning your EIB is demonstrating that you have mastered all the skills required for your job, which is being an infantryman,” said 2nd Lt. John Wahman, platoon leader, Company A, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  “If you master your skills here, then we know that you can apply them when it comes to applying them in real life.”

Even though earning the EIB isn’t a requirement, it is highly recommended that young troopers attain this badge.  For those who earn it, it is a since of pride, and a display to leaders, peers, and subordinates that this infantryman is fully capable of carrying out the infantry mission.

“EIB is very important to infantrymen even if they do not get the badge,” said 1st Sgt. Victor Del Valle, NCOIC of traffic control point lane. “They are still able to go through the training, which makes the unit more competent as far as Soldiers knowing skill level 1 and 2 task that is used on a daily basis.”

On the final day of the EIB testing, the Soldiers began their final event —the 12-mile foot march. The foot march, had to be completed within three hours with their prescribed packing list, challenged the Soldiers to display their determination and toughness.

Of the 55 infantrymen who were awarded the EIB, nine were classified as “true blue” EIBs.  “True blue describes infantrymen who earned their badges with a first-time pass in every event.

Fifty-five paratroopers from the brigade were awarded their EIB during the ceremony Nov. 8 at Pike Field.