News: Deutsche Leistungsabzeichen German Armed Forces Military Proficiency Badge
Story by Sgt. Barry St. Clair
EL PASO, Texas – U.S. Army warriors competed last week for the German Armed Forces Military Proficiency Badge at Fort Bliss, Texas.
The GAFMPB is awarded in gold, silver or bronze to American soldier athletes who complete the seven events within time or distance standards. Of the 75 competitors who started Sept. 4, 63 were awarded the prestigious badge in gold, silver or bronze, according to their individual performance during the week on Friday. The GAFMPB can be worn on the U.S. Army service uniform.
The seven events of the GAFMPB include a 200-meter swim, 100-meter sprint, the long jump, three-kilometer run, a pistol shooting competition and a 12- kilometer ruck march with a 33-pound backpack.
Some of the contestants felt that the 200-meter swim was the most difficult event. The swim was the first event, and resulted in elimination from the competition if not completed within the time allowed.
Maj. Robert Wagner, the executive officer for 402nd Field Artillery Brigade stated that a soldier had learned to swim just for this event.
“I learned to swim for this competition,” said Staff Sgt. Heather West of Mobile, Ala. “It was challenging; I had to push myself.”
West is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 402nd FA Brigade. Those who did not complete the first 100 meters of the swim in less than two minutes were required to attempt the shot put event. The shot put event and the long jump were completed in the afternoon following the swim.
The second day began with the 100-meter track event, and was followed by a three-kilometer run. Most of the contestants were more familiar with running, than swimming.
“The run was the easiest event,” said Melissa M. Thomas of Lacy, Wash. Thomas is assigned to "Redball Express" 2 / 356th Logistics Support Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo., but is forward with her unit at McGregor Range, N.M.
The shortest run time in the male category went to Spc. Darius Pittman of Melbourne, Fla., assigned to Echo Company, 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. Pittman stated he likes to push himself, therefore, he had the best run-time at 11 minutes, 13 seconds.
The event that almost everyone enjoyed was held at the Fort Bliss Rod and Gun club where contestants shot the German HK P8 nine-millimeter pistol. Each person shot five shots at three targets.
“I really enjoyed the shooting and the running,” said Darren E. Mayes of Phoenix, and assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade. “It was challenging, trying to keep up with the younger guys.” Mayes, at 40 years old, is set to retire from the U.S. Army in Spring 2013.
The last event of the competition was a 12-kilometer ruck march carrying at least 33 pounds. First Lt. Todd Staiger assigned to Alpha Troop, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division finished the ruck march in first place with a time of one hour, 18 minutes.
The awards in gold, silver and bronze were presented by German air force air defense center commander Lt. Col. Nils Wetzel and Command Sgt. Maj. Bernhardt Koelzer during a ceremony at the German Club, Fort Bliss, Texas, Sept. 7, in the afternoon. The GAFADC at Fort Bliss host and grade the Olympic style competition. The 402nd FA Brigade serves as facilitators for the events.