JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ, UNITED STATES
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - Spc. Joshua Meyer shifted the weight of his 22-pound ruck sack, trying to relieve the pain and fatigue in his back and shoulders. He blinked the stinging sweat from his eyes as the sun relentlessly tracked him through the 12-kilometer ruck march in the soggy heat of the New Jersey marshlands.
Meyer could hear the footsteps of his fellow competitors closing behind him, a sound that kept him moving forward long after his aching legs and blistered feet should have quit. But quitting was not an option, and neither was slowing down. Only a few more miles, he thought to himself. Only a few more miles to gold.
Meyer, a trumpet player with the Army Reserve's 198th Army Band headquartered in Rochester, New York, recounted one of his more grueling experiences competing for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge here this past summer as he prepared for the 2014 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition this week.
“Going through the German Proficiency Badge event really felt amazing and just shot up my confidence level because you're able to do way more than you thought, pushing yourself mentally, emotionally and physically,” said Meyer.
The weather here this week isn't quite as intense as Meyer experienced last summer, but the competition has been as Meyer and more than three-dozen of his fellow Army Reserve Soldiers participate in the competition, which tests Soldiers' resiliency and warrior skills in events such as the Army Physical Fitness Test, M4 rifle and M9 pistol qualification ranges, hand-to-hand combatives, day and night land navigation, 10-kilometer ruck march, urban operations and mystery events throughout the week.
The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is a skill badge that Soldiers can earn, officially recognized by the U.S. government. Competing for the German Proficiency Badge required many of the same skills and attributes that Meyer has been putting to the test during the Best Warrior Competition, in addition to certain unique requirements.
“The German Proficiency Badge competition was strictly just physical fitness,” said Meyer, explaining that the competition consists of events such as a 100, 400 or 1,000-meter timed sprint, a 3,000 or 5,000-meter timed run, a 1,000-meter swim, high jump, long jump, shot put, 25-meter marksmanship and the ruck march.
“The Best Warrior Competition is mainly different because of all the Warrior Tasks, all the written tests, all the educational knowledge you need,” said Meyer, a student at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester. Soldiers are required to use their intellect during many events throughout the competition, such as making mathematical calculations during land navigation, applying medical techniques during first aid, knowing current policy during the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention event, and following rules of engagement during the search and seizure event, with points awarded for the level of detail provided in each instance.
“The Best Warrior Competition really tests you on leadership skills, on confidence level, and on the Army Study Guide. I found myself studying more than training physically,” he said.
The resiliency needed to compete in these competitions is something the Army tries to instill in all its Soldiers, giving men and women in uniform the mental, physical, emotional and behavioral tools to face and cope with adversity, adapt to change, and recover and grow from setbacks.
“Doing each event back-to-back on a daily basis where your body gets physically tired, and you wake up the next day and have to push yourself to do those same events – it's a real mental game to get thorough that week,” Meyer said. “The German Proficiency Badge competition gave me the confidence to compete and hopefully win at this level.”
During the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge competition, Meyer overcame the heat, exhaustion and blisters to receive top scores and earn gold in the ruck march, as well as every other event in which he participated.
This week, he's going to lace up his boots, weigh his ruck sack and listen for those footsteps once again. But this time, his sights are set on Army gold.
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This work, Army Reserve Soldier brings German gold to Best Warrior Competition, by SSG Shawn Morris, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.