Soldiers completed grueling testing to earn the Army's Expert Field Medical Badge, one of the hardest badges to obtain.
What began on May 7th, with over 200 students dwindled down to 38 by graduation.
The Ritz Epps Physical Fitness Center bleachers were packed with family, command and fellow Soldiers to honor those few that made it.
The Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge is well known for being one of the hardest badges to obtain. The attrition rate of the course is at a staggering 8 percent.
Enrollment quickly dropped in half during the first day. After that, the participants slowly trickled down one by one.
“I knew how hard the course was, so I am so proud of him, and greatly relieved for him,” Katie LaRoche said of husband Mike LaRoche, shortly after the graduation ceremony. Tess LaRoche, age 3, danced around mom’s feet oblivious to the accomplishment of her father.
The Soldiers had to endure training that tested all aspects of their being.
Soldiers had to prove themselves physically, emotionally and mentally throughout the entire course.
Standing in front of their family and friends, the Soldiers were happy but they also wore remnants of the trials they had just survived.
Training and tests included casualty recovery throughout a half-mile trail, ensnared with boobytraps, walls, barbed wire and smoke bombs they had to safely maneuver while transporting the casualty individually.
The graduation started at 9 a.m., but the Soldiers’ morning started far before that.
Prior to the graduation, the Soldiers completed the course with a grueling 12-mile ruck march that began at 4:30 a.m.
Covered in mud and sweat, the Soldiers were pinned with the EFMB badge, honored for a job well done.
These Soldiers knew the hard task set before them.
They led the way and set the example as not only Soldiers but also as leaders.
These EFMB graduates endured 11 consecutive days, and 120 hours of testing, including day and night land navigation, trauma lanes, and a 12-mile ruck to the graduation ceremony.
The weight of the burden was not lost on the graduates who were recognized and celebrated.