KOBLENZ, Germany – Public Health Command Europe routinely partners with their German host nation military counterparts in training events. This year, the Sanitätskommando der Bundeswehr hosted the opportunity for Public Health Command Europe and U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center- Europe Soldiers to earn the Schützenschnur, the German marksmanship badge.
On July 28, 15 service members from across PHCE and USAMMCE vied for the coveted badge.
The Schützenschnur, a highly sought-after award requires participants to successfully qualify with three classes of weapons consisting of a pistol, rifle and heavy weapon, or machinegun.
Public Health Command Europe Sergeant Major, Brett Long, was among those Soldiers who finally had the opportunity to compete for the Schützenschnur.
"I have been in the Army for almost 29 years, and for my sixth year in Germany, I finally had the opportunity to compete," said Long. "This means a lot to me, I will be wearing the badge proudly."
Each competitor is graded on their proficiency and awarded, if proficient, one of three medals: gold, silver or bronze.
Participation in the German Army sponsored competition was particularly challenging for the American Soldiers as they had to qualify with unfamiliar weapons.
The history of the Schützenschnur dates back to the the early 18th century in Prussia when Frederick William I of Prussia began awarding a "cord" as a decoration.
With the reorganization of the Prussian Army under Gerhard von Scharnhorst, the Schützenschnur became an official military award. The Reichswehr, and later the Wehrmacht, adopted the Schützenschnur as an award for proficiency in marksmanship.
According to one of the competitors, Sgt. Gina Torres, an environmental health science specialist at PHCE, the Bundeswehr Soldiers made her feel like she is one of their own.
"I am honored to have been able to train with the German Army," said Torres. "They shared their expertise and kindness through the whole event. I will proudly wear the badge to remind myself where I have been."
Wearing of the award on the uniform for U.S. Soldiers is only for enlisted personnel. While officers may earn the award, they are not authorized to wear the Schützenschnur on their uniform.
After all of the scores were tallied, nine Soldiers earned silver, and six earned gold.
Later in August, Bundeswehr Soldiers, alongside their American counterparts, will be able to compete for the Expert Field Medical Badge, a special skill award for of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel.
According to the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, the EFMB test is the utmost challenge to the professional competence and physical endurance of the Soldier medic. It is the most sought after peacetime award in the AMEDD. While the Combat Medical Badge is the "portrait of courage" in wartime, the EFMB is undoubtedly the "portrait of excellence" all of the time.