FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – After two years of not being able to host the German Armed Forces Badge testing event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional Training Site–Maintenance hosted their seventh GAFBP test here April 30 to May 3, 2022.
Thirty-five cadre members had three days to get nearly 130 participants comprised of all three Army components, the Air Force, and the Marines, through this challenging fitness test.
The test included a flexed-arm hang, 1,000-meter sprint, an 11x10 meter sprint, a 100-meter swim followed by removing your uniform while staying afloat, a pistol marksmanship test, and a 12–kilometer ruck march with a minimum of 35 pounds in their ruck sacks.
“It was an awesome, great competition, full of emotions,” said German Army Col. Karsten Kraemer, the German Army representative who officiated the event.
Col. Kraemer felt it is important for competitions like this to continue to foster the relationship between German and U.S. Soldiers, building upon friendships based on common memories.
The 94th Training Division’s Staff Sgt. Brad Coffell, who is assigned to the RTSM, felt relief when he realized he earned a gold medal in the GAFPB competition.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve the gold standard in every event. And when it was over, and I realized I had achieved my goal. I was able to get a mental release.”
To prepare for the competition, Coffell would run 6-10 miles at an eight minute per mile pace and do ruck marches carrying at least 45 pounds.
He also took advantage of the hilly terrain on Fort Indiantown Gap during his preparations, because he knew whatever route he would have to compete on would include hills.
Even with all his preparation, the 1 hour, 24 minutes, 30 seconds it took him to complete the ruck march was the hardest part of the competition for him.
“Everything else though difficult, was over in a matter of minutes. But the ruck march took every bit of athleticism you had to complete, and you had to continue to use that strength for over an hour,” said Coffell.
Maj. Benjamin Vernon, the RTSM’s commandant, said his favorite part of the competition was seeing the competitors’ smiling faces while enjoying the event and giving it their all.
Vernon added this GAFPB testing event would not have been the success it was without the professionalism, knowledge, and expertise of his cadre.
“The NCO’s made it happened,” said Vernon. “They proved they are the backbone of the Army.”
The fitness test’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Staff Sgt. Scott Cleaver, also assigned to the 94th TD’s RTSM, said team members, leadership coaching, and cadre motivation inspired competitors to safely push through this intense competition.