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In a small dilapidated village on a soggy April day, 15 soldiers vied for the opportunity to compete for one of the top Army medical accolades: the Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge.
The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade held a preliminary competition to bring together medics for training and determine which have the ability and resolve to win the 8th Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge Competition.
“It’s a competition that involves not just medical tasks but also Soldier-warrior tasks. We combined it all together,” said Capt. Lauren Vasta, 35th ADA Brigade Surgeon. “The Expert Field Medical Badge is a sign a medic has the upmost medical skills and is a superior Soldier. For them it’s two-fold.”
Held April 5-7, participants from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery and the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery proved their prowess through a written test, two combat trauma lanes and a 12-mile ruck march.
The foundation of the competition was the two combat trauma lanes, testing the medic’s abilities, determination and strength through scenarios such as medical management, care under fire, tactical movement, decontamination and litter movement.
“It was muddy, bloody and painful, but I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Pfc. Jae Won Choi, 6-52nd ADA BN medic. “It was like a dream come true.”
The competition was a first for the 35th ADA, and while it stemmed from a need to select 10 medics to attend the 8th Army competition, it also gave the Soldiers an opportunity to flush out their weaknesses and capitalized on their strengths in the field medic realm. The soldiers that made it are:
1. Spc. Sung Seo, 6-52nd ADA BN
2. Pfc. Tae Kim, 6-52nd ADA BN
3. Pfc. Jeremias Robles, 2-1st ADA BN
4. Spc. Sejong Hong, 6-52nd ADA BN
5. Spc. Cheon Son, 6-52nd ADA BN
6. Sgt. Eric Schenck, 6-52nd ADA BN
7. Pfc. Jae Choi, 6-52nd ADA BN
8. Pfc. Chang Woo Lee, 6-52nd ADA BN
9. Staff Sgt. Santiago Sendejas, 6-52nd ADA BN
10. Sgt. Abdiel Quiroz, 6-52nd ADA BN
These medics have approximately one month to bolster what they learned before facing the real test at the 8th Army EFMB Competition in May.
“This unit hasn’t had a winner in several years. That’s one of the reasons we initiated this,” said Sgt. Derrik Breznicki, 35th ADA Brigade Surgeon Cell NCO in charge and event coordinator. “It’s basically a check on learning to see if the training that they have been working on is getting them prepared. I think we now have a better chance than we have had any other year.”
Whether or not they passed this initial step to the badge, all 15 participates are now more experienced and capable medics, giving them both an advantage at the competition, and a higher success rate in the field.