June 30, 2003, 21:30 EST

Soldiers earn Expert Infantryman Badge in Cuba

 

Lt. Col. Tim Wilkinson pins an EIB on Capt. Joe DiNonno. Click HERE for more photos from the pin-on ceremony.

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:

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

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