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Public Affairs Office
CMR 442 APO AE 09042
U.S. Army Hospital – Nachrichten Kaserne
Postfach 103180 69021 Heidelberg, Germany
Contact Steve Davis 371-3317 Tel. 06221-17-3317
October 2, 2008
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Victory sweet for Expert Field Medical Badge Winners
30 Soldiers prove professional prowess, exceed Army norm

    Grafenwoehr, Germany – Victory was sweet for 30 Expert Field Medical Badge candidates who crossed the 12-mile road march finish line Oct. 2 at the Grafenwoehr Training Area.
    That last exhilarating sprint, or – for some – that painful determined surge, was a step into the ranks of medical Soldiers who have earned the prestigious badge by proving their professional prowess.
    Following a week of familiarization training, 87 candidates from across Europe began the one-week test Sept. 29. Officer or enlisted, doctor or dentist, veterinary Soldier or lab tech, each is equal during the challenge of physical, mental and professional ability. Failing any event immediately disqualifies a Soldier.
    Performed under the serious gaze of lane evaluators, the events include a grueling series of hands-on tasks, including communication, tactical combat casualty care, evacuation of the sick and wounded, and Army warrior tasks. A day and night land navigation course and a 100-question written exam must also be successfully completed. The grand finale is a 12-mile road march in full combat gear with a 35-pound rucksack.
    So when Staff Sgt. Matt DeVivo, a detachment medic from C Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group at Stuttgart, Germany, was the first to cross the road march finish line in 2:14:01, he knew he was home-free after evaluators verified his rucksack contents and weight. He was the EFMB road march champion.
    “It was challenging,” said DeVivo, a Boston native. “The EFMB test is mentally tough and has this (road march) at the end. Not everyone gets it.”
    DeVivo said he was focused on helping platoon mates through the test. His ad hoc platoon arrived with 22 Soldiers, but only six made it to the road march.
    He wasn’t the only one lending a hand. Though not competition participants, Heidelberg Medical Activity Commander Col. Kyle Campbell and other staff officers ran alongside their Soldiers to encourage them. Spc. Charles Powell, one of the HMEDDAC Soldiers, passed the test on his first try.
    Others took a bit longer.
    “I’ve wanted this badge for 19 years,” said Capt. Julie Bridges, a 38-year-old environmental science officer with the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine-Europe water program. “This was my third try. The road march got me (disqualified) the first time and land nav got me the second try.”
    Bridges crossed the finish line at 2:58:59, narrowly beating a three-hour time limit. She also had the highest written test score of 93 percent. She wore a big smile as she cooled down.
    Capt. Rhoda Winsky, a registered nurse at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, was the only one to receive a “GO” on each of the 44 Combat Testing Lane tasks. The candidates had to complete most of the tasks in three Combat Training Lanes. She successfully completed them all.
    During the Expert Field Medical Badge Award Ceremony that followed the competition, DeVivo, Bridges and Winsky each received an EFMB Coin of Excellence and congratulations from Lt. Gen. Gary D. Speer, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe, and Brig. Gen. Keith W. Gallagher, commander of the Europe Regional Medical Command and, as USAREUR and 7th Army Command Surgeon, the senior Expert Field Medical Badge holder in Europe.
    Brig. Gen. Gallagher introduced Lt. Gen. Speer after thanking the V Corps, 30th Medical Brigade and 21st Theater Support Command units and staffs that conducted the EFMB test and encouraging new badge holders to return to their units to train their peers and their Soldiers.
    “The Expert Field Medical Badge is the mark of accomplishment of a very select group of distinguished Soldiers. They are proven experts in their field,” said Speer.
    Speer said the EFMB and the Expert Infantry Badge stand apart from every other military badges because they are awarded to Soldiers based on demonstrated proficiency and performance to high exacting standards in a combat environment.
    “These Soldiers standing before you today have proven by their performance that they not only met the standard of a task, but met the standard of task… after task… after task… that set them apart from all others and earn them the right to be called ‘experts’,” said Speer.
    About 20 percent of medical Soldiers wear the EFMB. In a typical EFMB test, only 10-15 percent pass. Soldiers in this year’s U.S. Army Europe Expert Field Medical Badge test surpassed that norm with a 35 percent pass rate.