EWU Army ROTC Alum Becomes First to Earn the Expert Soldier Badge


2019 Eastern Washington University (EWU) graduate 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Haley Isaacson became the first reported alum from the university’s Army ROTC program to be awarded the Expert Soldier Badge during testing held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Washington.

ESB pinning
2nd Lieutenant Haley Isaacson (right) is pinned her Expert Soldier Badge after testing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

In effort to improve the tactical skills of Soldiers and increase individual and unit readiness, the U.S. Army in Fall 2019 created the new Expert Solider Badge (ESB).  To qualify to take the ESB test, Soldiers  must first pass the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), qualify “Expert” on the M4 or M16 rifle, and be recommended by their chain of command.  During the five day test the participants have to again take the ACFT, conduct day & night land navigation courses, and be tested on their Warrior Tasks and Drills that include:

  • Building fighting positions
  • Search an Enemy Prisoner of War
  • Reacting to an improvised explosive device (IED) attack
  • React to chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear contaminated areas
  • Weapons proficiency lanes
  • Patrolling
  • Conducting a nine-line medical evacuation and many other skills
The Expert Soldier Badge

After completing the Warrior and Tasks and drill testing, the participants then need to complete a 12-mile ruck march in under 3 hours. Standards for the ESB are age and gender neutral.  In October 2019, the Army conducted its first ESB testing where only 11 of 56 soldiers passed.  During testing in November 2019 only 3 out of 100 soldiers passed which demonstrates the difficulty of receiving this badge.  During June 2020 testing at JBLM, 2LT Isaacson was one of only 39 soldiers at JBLM to pass the test held at JBLM from June 22-26.  Major General Xavier T. Brunson and Command Sergeant Major Robin Bolmer, the 7th Infantry Division Command team recognized all the competitors that earned their badge during an award ceremony.

2LT Haley Isaacson (right) poses with her husband 2LT Kyle Isaacson (left) after receiving the Expert Soldier Badge. Both are 2019 graduates of Eastern Washington University’s Army ROTC program.

2LT Isaacson was a Distinguished Military Graduate from EWU’s Army ROTC program in 2019.  She currently serves as a Military Intelligence officer in the 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team at JBLM.  Here is what 2LT Isaacson had to say when asked about any advice she would like to give to EWU Army ROTC Cadets interested in competing for the Expert Soldier Badge in the future:

The ESB is something that challenges you physically and mentally with its 34 stations and a final 12-mile ruck march. It is something that you should go after early in your career to set you apart from your peers. You get the chance to train alongside infantry personnel who are competing for the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) where about 80% of the ESB stations are the same. It is a unique experience to work with soldiers you don’t work with on a day to day basis. Receiving this is very rewarding especially when you’ve been training for it for about a month.

Hard work pays off, Go Eags🦅!

EWU Army ROTC congratulates 2LT Isaacson on her accomplishment. She has definitely shown that she is Eagle Strong!

EWU Military Science Hall of Fame: Brigadier General Nikki L. Griffin Olive

Brigadier General Nikki L. Griffin Olive

U.S. Army Retired

EWU ROTC Class of 1990

Commanding General, 335th Signal Command (Theater), Operational Command Post (Forward), Kuwait

Brigadier General Nikki L. Griffin Olive is a native of Spokane, Washington and was commissioned a Signal Officer upon graduation from Eastern Washington University (EWU) as an ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate.

In her initial assignment to Vicenza, Italy, she served as a signal platoon leader and company executive officer in the 559th Field Artillery Group. She was subsequently assigned as a Mobile Subscriber Equipment Platoon Leader and the Communications-Electronics Officer/Assistant S3 Plans Officer in the 3-58th Aviation Battalion (Air Traffic Control). Following graduation from the Signal Officer’s Advance course, she was assigned as the Communications-Electronics Officer in the 1-5th Air Defense Artillery Battalion (Stinger Missile), and the Headquarters Battery Commander, 1-3rd Air Defense Artillery Battalion (Stinger Missile), 3rd Infantry Division, Ft. Stewart, Georgia. In 1998, she was assigned as a Plans and Operations Officer, 335th Theater Signal Command, at East Point, Georgia, and she continued to serve in critical billets to include Force Management and Battalion Command. After attending Resident War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, she was assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 for 335th Signal Command (Theater). Brigadier General Griffin Olive most recently relinquished command of the 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade in September 2016 before assignment as the Deputy Commanding General, Sustainment for 335th Signal Command (Theater).  In 2018 she was assigned as Commanding General (Troop Program Unit), 335th Signal Command (Theater), Operational Command Post (Forward), Kuwait.  BG Griffin-Olive retired from the U.S. Army in November 2019.

BG Nikki Griffin-Olive is inducted into the EWU Military Science Hall of Fame during the 2020 EWU Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony.

Brigadier General Griffin Olive’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (with four oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with three oak leaf clusters), Army Achievement Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), Armed Forces Reserve Medal (M Device), Army Reserve Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal (with one oak leaf cluster), Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Military Outstanding Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (second award), and the Parachute Badge.She holds a Bachelors Degree from Eastern Washington University, Masters Degree from American Military University and the United States Army War College. Her military education includes the Signal Officer Basic Course, Signal Officer Advanced Course, Brigade/Battalion Signal Officer Course, Airborne School, Combined Arms, and Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College, and the United States Army War College.

Brigadier General Griffin Olive is married to Colonel Jeffrey Olive, G-6, Georgia Army National Guard. They have two daughters – Darby Isabelle Olive and Kendall Grace Olive.

EWU ROTC Graduate’s National Guard Service Featured in The Easterner

Miranda Munsell

EWU Army ROTC class of 2016 graduate, Miranda Munsell was commissioned as a Field Artillery officer into the Washington Army National Guard.  Since graduating from Eastern, she has been promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the 2-146th Field Artillery Battalion.

Miranda Munsell
1LT Miranda Munsell

1LT Munsell’s National Guard unit was recently activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  EWU’s school newspaper, The Easterner has published an article highlighting her service.  Here is a quote from 1LT Munsell in the article:

“It’s so important to me that we can be there when our communities need us. Seeing the impact we have had and being able to be there to assist the people who need it in this time of crisis is extremely rewarding,” said 1LT Munsell.  [The Easterner]

I highly recommend everyone reading the whole article at the link.  You can also view a video featuring 1LT Munsell at this link. Great job by 1LT Munsell for being such a great leader and all the other National Guard personnel helping others across the state during this pandemic.

For anyone interested in becoming a National Guard officer and serving their fellow citizens in a time of crisis, the EWU Army ROTC program is a path to doing this.  Incoming and current EWU students can sign up for a Military Science course to explore their options in the Army with no obligation to join.  If National Guard service is something you are interested in pursuing we can help you with finding a unit and accessing scholarship benefits.

Cadets on a Minuteman Scholarship or a Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty (GRFD) Scholarship are guaranteed National Guard service, awarded full tuition or $10k towards room and board a year to EWU, receive $1,200 annually for books, and a $420 a month stipend plus other benefits.  Anyone interested in learning more about their National Guard options can reach us through our Contact page or by emailing us at rotc@ewu.edu.

Fighting Eagles Alumni Excels in Her Career as an Army Nurse


For National Nurses Week, the EWU Army ROTC “Fighting Eagles” battalion would like to recognize 2017 EWU graduate, Kaylee Nunley who has started off a great career as an Army nurse.  Kaylee grew up in Spokane Valley where she attended EWU for pre-nursing and joined ROTC.  After completing the pre-nursing curriculum at EWU, she was accepted into the Washington State University (WSU)-Spokane College of Nursing.  While attending nursing school she had the opportunity to attend a summer internship at the Army hospital at Ft. Wainwright, AK.


After graduating from EWU and the College of Nursing, she commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. She next completed her Basic Officer Leadership Course for nurses at Fort Sam Houston, Texas before arriving at her first duty station at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  Walter Reed is the military’s premier hospital.  At Walter Reed Kaylee served for three years as a registered nurse serving as a medical surgical pediatric nurse.

After completing her assignment at Walter Reed, the now First Lieutenant (1LT) Nunley is currently attending public health nurse training at Ft. Sam Houston.  After she completes her training later this month, she will then move to her next duty station in Ft. Wainwright, Alaska.  There she will serve as the Chief of Army Public Health Nursing focusing on preventive medicine for Soldiers and families.

During her Army journey, 1LT Nunley has also married and became a mom.  EWU Army ROTC congratulates Kaylee for a great start to her career as an Army nurse.

World War II Army Nurse Corps recruiting poster.
World War II Army Nurse Corps recruiting poster.

Did you know that EWU Army ROTC has the largest ROTC nursing program in Washington State and the Inland Northwest?  We have a track record of commissioning quality nurses on to Active Duty and into Army Reserves.  If you are interested in serving your country as well as beginning a career as a health care professional, consider Army nursing.  Scholarships are available to qualified applicants and Army ROTC has guaranteed slots into Nursing School.  Learn more about about the ROTC nursing program at this link.  You can also use our Contact page or email us at rotc@ewu.edu to answer any questions you may have.

Go Army Nursing!  Go Fighting Eags!


Throwback Thursday: 2008 EWU Army ROTC Cannon Crew

This Throwback Thursday photo is from 2008 and shows the EWU Army ROTC Cannon Crew at Roos Field during a home football game. The then Professor of Military Science, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Millet is pictured at the center of the photo. He is still a part of the EWU community serving as the Director of the university’s Veterans Resource Center.

Anyone recognize any of the Cadets in the photo?

Throwback Thursday: 1995 EWU Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony

1995 Commisssioning

1995 Commisssioning

Here is an old picture that was labeled simply 1995.  It appears to be a commissioning ceremony for three Cadets being held in our current ROTC classroom at Cadet Hall.  Does any alumni recognize any of the three individuals in this photograph from 25 years ago?