Maria Eggers Becomes First Latina to Earn Coveted Expert Infantryman Badge

Maria Eggers Fort Hood BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of NBC News.

1st Lt. Maria Eggers, 1st Squadron, is the first woman from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment to take the Expert Infantryman Badge test and train in the medical lane.

As NBC News reported, Maria Eggers, 24, received it in April by successfully completing the five-day test that measures a soldier’s physical fitness and ability to perform at levels of excellence in a wide variety of critical infantry skills. The test measures mastery of those skills through different assessments and varying degrees of stress. It’s a feat for women, as fewer than 100 in the entire U.S. Army have received it.

“I was shocked by how few females have had the opportunity or who have tried,” she said. “I definitely think it is amazing that we have females that are in this profession and that we’re succeeding. There is a lot of good talk that happens whenever somebody is successful. It just shows that we can do it and that females are strong and we can handle this job too.”

In a phone interview with NBC News, Eggers said she was surprised when she learned she was the first Latina to win the award at the regiment, currently stationed at Fort Hood. As someone who grew up with two parents in the military, she said she always saw herself as a soldier and a part of the team.

“It just shows that we can do it and that females are strong and we can handle this job too,” she said.

The test involves navigating the terrain until 4 a.m., a 12-mile foot march while wearing full body armor, having to don equipment for a possible chemical attack, and disassembling a weapon, all in just five days.

After a month of preparation, the week of testing began with the soldiers running 4 miles in 40 minutes, then showing off their weapons skills. The next day, the participants had to run day and night land navigation courses while wearing their combat gear.

For the next two days, the soldiers performed tasks that included demonstrating how to properly care for the wounded in terms of bleeding, fractures, and burns. The last day was the 12-mile foot march, also known as a “ruck,” which had to be completed in three hours while wearing full armor. At the last station, he had to dismount and mount his weapon.

Eggers’ good news comes amid the scandal of the findings of a military investigation following the murder of another Latina soldier, Vanessa Guillen, at the same Fort Hood.

With information from NBC News.