Lee officers earn German military badge
December 20, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (Dec. 20, 2012) -- More than 70 Army officers -- most of them lieutenants in training at the Army Logistics University here -- received their gold or silver German Armed Forces Proficiency Badges during a lunchtime ceremony Friday in ALU's multipurpose rooms.
Sgt. Maj. Christian Schneider, German armed forces liaison to the Sustainment Center of Excellence, presided over the event. To earn the badges, each participant had to complete a demanding series of challenges over a 10-week period and the sergeant major was responsible for grading their performance and, ultimately, granting approval for the individual awards. The presentation of badges was the last step of the process.
"The GAFPB or das abzeichen fur leistungen im truppendienst, is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany," according to the script that was read during the ceremony. "In the German army, this decoration is awarded and worn by soldiers of all ranks. In the U.S. Army, the proficiency badge is one of the few foreign awards approved for wear on the Army Service Uniform and that makes it a highly sought-after honor."
To qualify for the award, participants must successfully complete challenges like a 100-meter sprint, a 3,000-meter run, the high jump or long jump, a shot-put throw, a 200-meter swim, a pistol shoot and a 12,000-meter road march with a 35 pound ruck sack.
"What's noteworthy about this group is how they tackled all of this in addition to their military studies or duties at Fort Lee," noted Capt. Luke Medvegy, an Ordnance Basic Officer Leaders Course instructor who oversaw the GAFPB qualification process. "It required a lot of late nights and early mornings, and they motivated each other as a group, which is another positive aspect of this whole experience."
Medvegy gave nods to Virginia State University and the Hopewell Community Center where several qualification events took place. The agencies not only opened their doors to the officers, but also lent the expertise of sports coaches who provided instruction for track and swimming requirements.
"Another interesting point about this award is that it's actually sanctioned by the German Olympics Committee," Medvegy said. "They set the standards for each event and the sergeant major had to be approved as an official grader."
"In Germany, there is a six-week training regimen that must be followed prior to earning this prestigious award by the German Olympic Committee," noted Schneider in his remarks.
"The officers here today represent the best … I know because we have spent countless hours together from multiple practices to grading the events," he continued. "I have served in the German Armed Forces for over 23 years, and I have never seen such a professional, great and resilient group as I see here today. This experience has taught me much and enabled me to gain a great respect for the United States officers and Army. … Always remember that you have worked very hard for this award and have achieved what few have, so wear it with pride."
Keying in on that sentiment, 2nd Lt. Jared Jones -- a gold badge recipient and a student in Ordnance BOLC Class 13-002 -- said the thought of wearing the GAFPB on his dress uniform was part of what motivated him to vie for the honor.
"I think it says a lot about you as an individual," Jones remarked after the ceremony. "This badge shows that you're not willing to settle for just meeting the standard; that you're someone who challenges himself and goes above and beyond."
Second Lt. Benjamin Rymer, also an Ordnance BOLC Class 13-002 student, said the presentation gave him a feeling of accomplishment. He was inspired to compete for the badge when he saw it on the uniform of one of his mentors (the commandant of his Officer Candidate School class), and knew he wanted to present an equally sharp image.
"I got here and was given the chance to do it, so I jumped in head first," said the Columbia, S.C., native. "I knew it was going to be challenging, but there were plenty of surprises along the way like the shot-put and the high jump, which are two events in which I've never competed before. It was a little intimidating, but you definitely feel gratification when you work your way past it and complete the mission."
Citing first-time experiences like shooting a pistol and having the opportunity to work with army personnel from another country, 2nd Lt. Rosalie Richards of Transportation BOLC Class 12-011 said she is "very thankful" for the GAFPB experience.
"Teamwork is a huge part of this process," said Richards, who hails from Yreka, Calif. "When I looked at the list of (qualification) events, I started doubting myself … I've never jumped that high; I don't know if I can throw something that far; I've never even fired a handgun. To get past that, I just talked to my classmates and listened to the advice of those who have done it before. That gets your mind into it. You're part of a team. It's a huge thing to have your battle buddies there."
Richards also said that she's walking away from the experience with much more than proud memories and a gold badge.
"I learned a lot of things that will definitely help me as a future Army leader," she noted. "For example, you can have a lot of confidence and self-assurance about doing certain things, but the only way to really know if you're good at something is to practice it and be open to advice from those who've done it before. Preparation is really key. Another big thing is motivation. I'm sure I'll encounter troops who just want to hang out in the barracks and not do anything, so I'll use this experience to show how it opened a lot of new and exciting opportunities for me."
The tally of GAFPB recipients is as follows: two instructors from the Captains Career Course and BOLC; one officer from the Sustainment Center of Excellence; seven student officers from the captains career course, 31 student officers from Ordnance BOLC; 13 student officers from Transportation BOLC; and 18 officers from Quartermaster BOLC.