Fort Polk soldiers earn their expert badges

Fort Polk soldiers earn their expert badges
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 4:30 PM CST
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VERNON PARISH, La. (KALB) - The Army’s expert badges are no walk in the park. Soldiers trying to earn them must complete dozens of tasks, from hand grenade courses to a timed 12-mile foot march.

Expert badges are earned in three categories: field medic, infantry and soldier. Training lasts for two weeks and soldiers spend the third week testing. All training and testing are done while carrying 50 pounds of gear, including an M-16 rifle.

Sergeant John Cody Coleman is a combat medic and earned his field medic badge on Friday morning and said now he can focus on advancing his career.

“I am a 68 Whiskey, which is a combat medic,” said Coleman. “I am currently in 2-2 infantry as a treatment section leader. I am a squad leader and I have six soldiers under me. What is next for me is hopefully to become a platoon leader.”

First Lieutenant Ethan Bates also earned his infantry badge on Friday. He said the hardest part of the process was learning so many new things, in such a short amount of time.

He added that even though he earned his badge, there is little down time. He will take what he has learned and continue to prepare for the day he may be called to combat.

“So that is what we are always prepared for,” said Bates. “We are always training, so after this, we are jumping straight back into training and going out to practice our craft. Then hopefully go home and take a break, but we are always preparing for combat.”

No soldier wants to relive the mental stress endured through this process, so once they receive the badge, it has been earned for a lifetime.

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