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VICENZA, Italy — At the start of the Expert Infantryman Badge qualification at Caserma Del Din, 525 American and 30 Italian soldiers signed up to complete a series of 30 tasks over five days. Only 66 participants completed the final event — a 12-mile road march in under three hours.

“Today, Sky soldiers and Italian soldiers before you have achieved something worth talking about,” 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel D. Coston said during the award ceremony.

“It was pretty tough to start on Monday,” said Staff Sgt. David Smitt, the last to finish the road march with only three minutes to spare. Tasks tested the soldiers’ knowledge, skills and endurance. They were required to qualify as expert on their personal weapon and pass the Army physical fitness test with a minimum score of 75 points in each of the three categories. Other tasks included a day and night land navigation course.

duhr.jason@stripes.com

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