FORT HARRISON — The Montana National Guard’s 1-163rd Combined Arms Battalion held an awards ceremony for the soldiers completing the Expert Infantry Badge Course.
This was the first time the Expert Infantry Badge Course was hosted in Montana and for Major Sean Kepler, who helped organize the event, says being able to host this course, and having graduates from it, Is huge for the state and for the Montana National Guard.
"They received individual training from identified experts in weapons tests, medical tests and just basic soldier tasks. It creates a better qualified organization down to the individual level," said Kepler.
The Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) is a special skills badge of the U.S. Army created by executive order in November, 1943 during World War II
It is awarded to U.S. Army soldiers who hold infantry, or special forces military occupational specialties, who completes, and passes, a battery of graded tests on basic infantry skills, and it can take a toll on soldiers not only physically, but also mentally.
"It's been pretty much just two weeks straight of stress, day in and day out, going through the training period, through the testing period. So it's a huge relief that it's over and that I was fortunate enough to be awarded the badge today," said Master Sergeant Tyler Egosque, a graduate from the Expert Infantry Badge Course.
The skills the soldiers were tested on were, physical fitness, land navigation, weapons lanes, medical lanes, patrol lanes, and a 12-mile ruck march.
The test started out with 108 competitors and ended with 15 graduates from the program, and Egosque couldn't ask for a better group to help each other cross the finish line.
"We all just entered another brotherhood within the military," said Egosque, "there's very few people that have an expert infantry badge army wide. So we've distinguished ourselves within that group. And now we'll always be connected as the 15 members that not only participated in the first Montana expert infantry badge, but also earned our badge on that one."
Fort Harrison hosted the course from August 5-18.