SEMBACH KASERNE, Germany -- Six Soldiers from Dental Health Command Europe participated in the German Bundeswehr Schützenschnur competition held Nov. 14 at Panzer Kaserne in Stuttgart, Germany.

The DHCE Soldiers who earned the Schützenschnur were; Spc. Edward Becker (gold), Spc. Kelly Francis (gold), Spc. Nathaniel Santiago (gold), Spc. Deyonjai Richards (silver), Sgt. Dion Richardson (silver) and Sgt. Jessica Lee (bronze).

The Schützenschnur is a highly sought-after award that requires participants to successfully shoot from all three classes of weapons: Pistol, rifle and heavy weapon.

Each participant is graded on their proficiency and awarded (if proficient) one of three classes, gold, silver or bronze.

Participation in this German Army sponsored competition was particularly challenging for the American Soldiers as they had to qualify using weapons they were unfamiliar with.

Spc. Edward Beck said, "The rifle we used was the Heckler & Koch G36 and the pistol was the Heckler & Koch P8."

"As far as my thoughts on the weapons, I felt the rifle was a tad heavier than the Army M4A1 but it had a better recoil and the pistol had a nice trigger squeeze and weight to it. It almost felt like the new M17 the Army just received," Becker added.

The history of the Schützenschnur dates back to the Eighty Years' War where Spanish troops were ordered to hang any Dutch person who carried a musket. Therefore, Spanish musketeers began to carry ropes which were often carried over one shoulder. Awarding a cord as a decoration began in the early 18th century in Prussia under Frederick William I of Prussia.

With the reorganization of the Prussian Army under Gerhard von Scharnhorst, the Schützenschnur became an official military award. The Reichswehr, and later the Wehrmacht, adapted the Schützenschnur as an award for proficiency in marksmanship.

The Army and Air Forces version of the award is a silver colored rope with a round metal badge. The center of the award displays the German eagle surrounded by a wreath of oak leaves.

Authorization of wear on the uniform for U.S. Soldiers is only for enlisted personnel; though officers may earn the award, they are not authorized to wear the Schützenschnur on their uniform.