FORT MCCOY, Wis. - A Wisconsin Army National Guard combat medic has a coveted badge and some bragging rights after two intense weeks.
Sgt. 1st Class Talon Dumke of Sun Prairie, a member of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team, earned the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) after completing the third Army Reserve Medical Command-sponsored competition May 12 at Fort McCoy. And he was named “Top Doc” for his efforts.
“The EFMB was very challenging,” Dumke said. “I wanted to represent the Wisconsin Army National Guard and my unit to the best of my ability. I did not know about the ‘Top Doc,’ so I was surprised and even more proud of the accomplishment.
“It was kind of a bonus beating out all the Reserve and Active-Duty service members,” he added.
The competition, hosted by Central Medical Area Readiness Support Group from Fort Sheridan, Illinois, began April 30. Candidates trained to boost their proficiency in Army medical practices. Dumke said this was the most helpful part of preparing for the event.
“We saw exactly how they wanted the tasks to be done,” he explained.
To earn the EFMB, medics had to pass a fitness test and weapons qualification, perform day and night land navigation, tactical combat casualty care, and medical, casualty evacuation and communication tasks. They demonstrated general Army skills and took an exam.
The competition culminated with a 12-mile road march with a rucksack May 12, followed by a ceremony for finalists.
The badge is prized because of how difficult it is to earn it. Of the 49 Active, Guard and Reserve Soldiers to enter this year’s competition at Fort McCoy, only eight finished — ranging from lower enlisted to lieutenant colonel. The attrition rate for completing EFMB testing can be as high as 90 percent.
“It is possible through hard work, staying focused, and giving it your all,” Dumke said. “Talking to or working with a badge holder to learn more about it, and preparing as much as possible, will make a big difference.”
Lt. Col. Seth Kaste, commander of the 54th Civil Support Team, described Dumke’s performance as “truly exceptional.”
“He brings a passion for fitness to our team, which builds resilience and teamwork,” Kaste said. “Talon is also one of our finest technical experts. His analytical acumen is well-respected throughout the CST community and is a force multiplier for our team.
“While the honor of ‘Top Doc’ is extremely impressive,” Kaste said, “our team has been fortunate enough to witness exceptional performance from Talon ever since he joined our team.”
During the awards ceremony, Maj. Gen. Scott Lynn, commanding general of the Army Reserve Medical Command, related the story of Pfc. Jesse Funk, a Medal of Honor recipient who braved heavy machine gun fire to help carry two wounded officers to safety during the Meusse-Argonne offensive on Oct. 31, 1918.
“The reason that you are an Army medic is the same reason that he was: Your nation needs you, and the Army needs you — both the organization and the individual Soldiers,” Lynn said.
Dumke is the health care noncommissioned officer and analytical laboratory system operator for the 54th Civil Support Team. He has been a combat medic since joining the Wisconsin Army National Guard over 14 years ago. He deployed in 2010 with the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation.
“I have always said being a medic is the best job in the Army,” Dumke said.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Hernandez contributed to this report.