Exhausted, Victorious: USAMRDC Soldiers Win Coveted Expert Medical Field Badge
Four Soldiers from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command earned the Expert Medical Field Badge following a grueling three-week competition last month at Fort A.P. Hill, in Virginia. Of the 11 total USAMRDC Soldiers who participated in the event, Capt. Derrick Ball (USAMRDC Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment), Staff Sgt. Mario Kinoshita (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense), Sgt. Harling Creso-Cruz (U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research), and Sgt. Ibrahim Toure (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases) achieved the honor.
"I've done a lot in my time in the military but this was something that, when I switched over to the medical side, this was a goal line," said Ball, who previously served with the 75th Ranger Regiment before joining the Army Medical Department in 2016. "I've been looking forward to this opportunity for several years now."
Created in 1965 to recognize exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel, the EFMB has long been considered one of the Army's most coveted badges. The testing event itself is designed to measure various aspects of a Soldier's physical fitness and mental discipline, as well as their overall ability to perform a broad spectrum of critical medical and Soldier skills. Outside of a physical fitness test and a comprehensive written examination, the event further requires the successful completion of three Combat Testing Lanes, a Land Navigation Course, and a 12-mile forced march.
"When I go do something, I'm going to try my hardest to do it," said Kinoshita. "I went in there with the mindset of, 'Hey, I can't really say anything about this event if I don't go and try it out first.'"
For both Kinoshita and Ball, the achievement carries an extra dose of significance given their respective family and individual histories. Kinoshita's stepfather is also a recipient of the EFMB, having won the award during his own military service career. Ball himself is a winner of the Expert Infantryman Badge from his service with the Rangers, meaning the EFMB represents high-level achievement across the entirety of his 17-year Army career.
"This was one of those things where I didn't want people to think that I was resting on what I had done previously," said Ball. "I wanted people to know I'm still striving for bigger and better things."
"It's important to recognize and congratulate all of the Soldiers who put their skills to the test in these rigorous lanes and tough challenges," said Brig. Gen. Tony McQueen, Commanding General of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, who was onsite to congratulate all EFMB winners during the awards ceremony on March 18. "Competition at this level is fierce, but getting to this point is a tremendous accomplishment – these Soldiers are the best of the best."
Out of the 70 initial participants in the event, only 17 people scored enough points on the various testing events to earn their Expert Medical Field Badge.
Said Kinoshita, "Now that I've obtained the badge, I feel like I can encourage other Soldiers to go and get it as well."