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43 medics earn ultimate prize at competition

5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 11:58AM April 24th, 2014

If it was easy to earn, the Expert Field Medical Badge wouldn’t be so coveted.

This year’s competition, hosted by 62nd Medical Brigade on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, ended April 17 with 43 medics achieving the elite badge.

The EFMB is a Department of the Army special skill award for recognition of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel.

The tasks began April 5 with 294 candidates. The final count of 43 awardees, which required certifying in every event, represented 14 percent of those who began the arduous competition.

The two-week event focused on three combat testing lanes that challenged candidates on warrior skills, medical and casualty evacuation, night and day land navigation, tactical combat casualty care, communication tasks and a road march.

At each lane, candidates performed up to 20 tasks, testing their knowledge and ability to react in a stressful environment. The final test required the candidates to finish a 12-mile road march in three hours or less.

According to the U.S. Army Medical Department, the EFMB test is the ultimate challenge to the professional competence and physical endurance of the Soldier-medic. It is the most sought-after peacetime award in the medical community.

The youngest candidate to complete all tasks and earn the EFMB was Pfc. Ryoma Nichols, a medic in 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Within 18 months of enlistment, Nichols has earned a distinction fewer than 10 percent of Army medics achieve.

“It’s an honor to receive the EFMB, but this was no competition. We all worked together as a team,” Nichols said.

After one week of certification and one week of testing, the candidates still in the competition crossed the finish line at Cowan Stadium April 17. Sergeant Drew Evans, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, was the first candidate to finish the road march in 2 hours, 13 minutes. Visibly exhausted, he walks to the area designated to account for the contents of his 35-pound rucksack and dumped its contents on the ground.

The rules required all candidates to finish the march with the equipment they started withy started or be disqualified.

“It feels great, but it was more of a team effort, so I feel very blessed to have a great chain of command, sponsors and battle buddies, I am glad to have the team that I have,” said Pfc. Eric Loredo, medic, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. “It was 120 hours of grueling work, but you get through it and in the end it’s definitely worth it. “Stick to your battle buddies, help them and let them help you.”