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Soldiers competing for the Expert Field Medical Badge set a record while earning the prestigious award during a two-week test in the Kitzingen, Germany, area.

Sixty-eight soldiers earned the badge out of the 288 who tried last month, according to Maj. Debra Stewart, a 1st Infantry Division spokeswoman. The success rate of 24 percent marked the first time that 20 percent had been exceeded during the Kitzingen test.

Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, commander of the Würzburg-based 1st Infantry Division, said during his speech to the graduates, “We owe it to those who have sacrificed so much in the past to be ready.

“As the 1st Infantry Division continues to prepare for the upcoming deployment to Iraq, the skills that you have demonstrated will take on an even more profound meaning.”

Batiste then recounted the exploits in Iraq of Spc. Dante Cammarata, an Army medic who in May treated a wounded soldier while shielding him under hostile fire. Cammarata was awarded a Bronze Star with valor.

“You will be asked to put your skills to the test in an austere environment and your fellow soldiers will put their lives in your hands,” Batiste said. “I have confidence that you and our medical units will perform magnificently when called upon.”

To become an expert field medic, a soldier must:

• Pass a 100-question written test, which typically eliminates one-third of the candidates.• Score at least 180 points on the Army Physical Fitness Test, including at least 60 points each in the three events — push-ups, sit-ups and two-mile run.• Successfully complete day and night land-navigation courses.• Weapons qualification — achieve marksman ranking or higher within 12 months before the test.• Complete obstacle courses while carrying a patient and not causing further injury.

The test concluded with a 12-mile road march that had to be finished in less than three hours with a full rucksack.

“As you can see, this is not just an award or badge that is given to anyone,” Batiste said.

Stewart said records were also set for the percentage of applicants who passed the written test (70 percent) and night land-navigation test (80 percent).

Instructors included soldiers from V Corps’ Combat Maneuver Training Center, plus members of the Europe Regional Medical Command and 30th Medical Group.

The badge competition for the first time was run by the non-commissioned officers of the Army Medical Department, Stewart said.

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