The soldiers were elated and proud as they stood in formation in the morning sun, waiting for their loved ones or colleagues to pin their newly earned badges to their uniforms.
They were also exhausted, having just completed a 12-mile foot march — carrying heavy rucksacks, no less — as the final labor of an intense two-week competition for the right to wear the coveted insignia.
The troops lined up Sept. 25 to receive the Expert Field Medical Badge in a brief, socially distanced ceremony at Fort Carson. The badge represents the elite of the Army medical community: Less than 10% of its soldiers are authorized to wear it, according to Capt. Alyssa Schlegel, who helped run the grueling test.
The competition has about an 80% attrition rate. Fort Carson officials said 113 soldiers began the journey two weeks ago, and only 22 completed it.
“You are truly the best