JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- For many Soldiers, the honor to earn another country's award is a rare opportunity.

But for a select few from Joint Base Lewis-McChord that opportunity presented itself Saturday and Sunday.

Das Abzeichen fur Leistungen im Truppendienst, or The German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency, is worn normally by German soldiers, but can be earned by U.S. Soldiers of any rank. Those who successfully accomplish all the tasks qualify to wear the gold, silver or bronze award. For the soldiers of the Bundeswehr, this test is administered annually with a growing list of events.
"In Germany we have not only the sport portion of this event, but we have also adapted a first aid test to complete as well, "said Sergeant Maj. Kay Rogge, German Liaison to the Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

The two-day competition was a first for JBLM; the event was hosted by Madigan Army Medical Center. Seventy-four Soldiers began the nine-task process that included a 200-meter swim, 3,000-meter run, shot-put, long jump or high jump, and had the choice to run either a 100-meter sprint or 1,000 meter dash. Those surviving the first day returned for a 9 mm qualifying range and the final event, a 7.5-mile ruck march, in under two hours for those trying to earn the gold badge; 5.6 miles in 90 minutes for the silver badge and 3.8 miles in 1 hour for the bronze badge.

"We had 90 people commit to getting this badge," said Col. Dallas Homas, Madigan Healthcare System commander. "Of that 90, 74 actually showed up to compete and gave of their time and their weekend. This is dedication at a personal level to go after something that is not required of their day-to-day business, My hat is off to everyone of you for being hooah. The fact is that you went after this and for that I'm proud of you."

For many of those who go after this award, the opportunity to wear the coveted medal means more then just having something shiny on their uniforms. It is about doing something that allows them to stand out from other Soldiers.

"It feels amazing to earn this badge, because I know not every Soldier in the Army has done this," said Pfc. Cameron Aschenbrenner, HHC medical laboratory technician. "It is a very small group. It is just a great accomplishment to me. My leadership was extremely supportive of me. They pushed me and made sure that I was at every training event. It was easy with all the motivation I received."

For this being the first time ever at JBLM, organizing this opportunity has proven to be a challenge and an excellent opportunity.

"I think the event was an absolute success. We had some of the last minute issues that you get with something this large, but I think we handled it well and organized," said Capt. Tristan Manning, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander. "I hope that this event becomes an annual thing because it is such a great opportunity to have Sgt. Maj. Rogge from Fort Huachuca be able to come up here and certify and officiate this event."

Of the 74 Soldiers who began the event, 36 completed all the tasks required to wear the eagle head medallion.