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29th ID's infantry soldiers score EIB at GITMO


2-116th soldiers form up to receive the coveted Expert Infantry Badge. (Click to enlarge photo)


Related 2-116 stories in the latest edition of the WIRE

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA --  Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, Stonewall Brigade, recently conducted testing of the Expert Infantry Badge for the first time in Cuba’s history.

            The Expert Infantryman’s Badge, or EIB, is the mark of distinction for an Infantry soldier.  To earn the coveted badge, soldiers must complete four pre-requisites before they can begin testing: Fire expert with an M16 rifle, score at least 70 percent in each of the three events of the Army physical fitness test, pass a day and night land navigation test, and complete a 12-mile road march with full gear and rucksack in less than three hours.  Then they begin the 32 tasks focused on Infantry skills. 

            “This is the first time an EIB has ever been done here,” said Lt. Col. Tom Wilkinson, the battalion commander.  “This badge will have an added meaning to the soldiers, knowing that they are the only ones to wear a badge that was earned in a Communist country.”

            A total of 31 soldiers passed all the pre-requisites and began the testing.  After the last test station, only 12 remained.  Soldiers receive a “GO” or “No GO” as they complete each task to standard by time.  If they fail a task, they are allowed to retest.  If a soldier fails the same task twice, he is out.  If he fails three separate tasks once, he is out.

            “It is extremely stressfull,” said Sgt. Joe Lake, an instructor and tester from  Company B.  “The level of stress is incredible, and the longer you stay in the process the greater the stress becomes.”

            The 12 soldiers who earned the coveted badge are:

PFC Jerry Andes                  Company C, Harrisonburg SPC Michael Mayhew            Company A, Charlottesville
   PFC Matthew Bulloch            Company A, Charlottesville  SPC Anthony Nichols             Company A, Charlottesville
 CPT Joe DiNonno                Company A, Charlottesville SPC Shawn Powell               Company A, Charlottesville
SPC Donald Evans               Company B, Lexington  SGT John Rothmann             Company A, Charlottesville
LT Nathan Golden             Company C, Harrisonburg  LT Chris Samulski              Company A, Lynchburg
 SPC Caleb Marden              Company A, Charlottesville  SPC John Shillingburg            Company B, Lexington

The Battalion mobilized on November 1, 2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  They trained at their mobilization station of Fort Bragg before deploying to Cuba in early December.  The unit is scheduled to return home in September.

--LTC CHESTER C CARTER III, Virginia Army National Guard

Thursday April 29, 2004