Over the past thirty days, soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Joint Readiness Training Center and other units within FORSCOM have been active in the Rose Pine Training Area preparing for the Expert Infantryman Badge test.

At 2:30 AM Monday 715 soldiers began the test.

Over the last five days, soldiers completed a battery of tests beginning with a gender-neutral physical fitness assessment that is similar to the one administered by the U.S. Army Rangers School.

In order to pass the physical fitness portion of the test soldiers must perform 49 push-up, 59 sit-ups and a four-mile run that must be completed in under 32 minutes.

The soldiers then move on to complete two separate land navigation tests, one for day conditions and one for night conditions, using a map and compass while wearing their full combat gear. Individuals who receive a “GO” then advance to the individual testing stations that are completed over the course of three days.

The individual testing stations test each candidate in thirty-two different stations that fall under the weapons, medical and the patrol line sections.

This is where each soldier must demonstrate their knowledge and ability to complete vital tasks important to every mission.

Tasks range in difficulty but each step must be completely performed in a specific sequence. Any soldier scoring three “NO-GO’s” in this testing phase is immediately dropped from testing.

The final event begins with a 12-mile foot march carrying an additional 35 pounds of gear that must be completed in three hours or less.

Once a soldier crosses the finish line they must perform their final task of clearing, disassembling, assembling and performing a functions check on an M4/M16 weapon.

On Friday 107 soldiers earned the right to wear the coveted EIB Musket, the mark of excellence for every infantryman.

In 1944 Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall initiated the development of an award to recognize infantrymen of all ranks who successfully demonstrate the mastery of critical basic infantry skills.

The EIB is a symbol of tradition for the United States Infantry and 3rd Brigade Combat Team CSM Kenneth Franco said, "it's a milestone in the profession of the outstanding men of the brigade."

In addition to receiving their EIB Musket pin, 36 awardees received an ARCOM (Army Commendation Medal) for successfully completing every task on their first attempt. These infantrymen are now members of an elite group known as the 'True Blue".

Also receiving special recognition was 1LT Jeremy Dickey. He received a coin with his EIB for his excellent performance in completing the 12-mile foot march in just two hours and sixteen minutes.

Testing for the EIB is available to soldiers of all ranks but you don't see very many PV2 graduates.

Of the 107 awardees who received their EIB, six of them hold the rank of PV2. One is PV2 Raine Fuller, 20, from McKinney Texas who enlisted in the Army just ten months ago.

Fuller was asked what gave him the confidence and courage to compete for the EIB being such a new recruit. He says it was the support of his unit.

"As soon as I came in as a PVT everyone in my unit (D. Co. 2-2) held me to a higher standard and they expected me to achieve it."

Now that he has completed the grueling test he feels that it is possible for anyone who puts in the time and work, backed by a solid support system, can achieve anything.

His advice to new recruits who may be intimidated by the rigorous training and testing required to achieve the EIB is "You're never going to get it if you don't try. Holding yourself to a higher standard with a mindset that you can do it is what makes it possible to achieve."

The final award of the ceremony was presented to HHC 2-2 for having the highest number of unit members receive the EIB.