By Mike Strasser, West Point Public AffairsSeptember 28, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 28, 2011) -- More than 900 cadets spent a portion of their day outside Gillis Field House Sept. 24 completing a series of events needed to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge.
Earning this badge requires a demonstration of proficiency in several military and athletic skills events. The cadets of 4th Regiment organized the daylong event to qualify participants in several of these, to include the 200-meter freestyle swim, shot put, long jump and 100-meter sprint. Inside the Tronsrue Marksmanship Center, the Combat Weapons Team conducted training and provided safety briefings before cadets had to engage three targets with five rounds at 25 meters.
The badge is awarded in gold, silver and bronze standards, depending on results from the pistol shoot and ruck march. All other events are recorded in the Go/No Go categories. For many cadets, going for the minimum time or distance qualification--wasn't good enough.
Class of 2012 Cadet Armando Peralta more than exceeded the minimum long jump distance, but returned to the back of the line. He heard the distance to beat, so far that morning, was only slightly better. He wanted another jump just to have the record, however long it would last.
Along the way back, he coached other cadets struggling with the unfamiliar track event, encouraging them to "fight for every inch."
"I like being the best and I like winning, and, being around all these guys, you want to set the example," Peralta said.
He has experience in these events, having competed for the badge every year at West Point. Even with a year to complete all the requirements, Peralta has managed to complete all but the ruck march each time around, due to a rigorous training schedule with the West Point Cycling Team. He's determined to finish it all this semester.
"It's kind of a personal challenge right now," Peralta said.
Class of 2012 Cadet Angela Smith, 4th Regiment commander, earned her badge two years earlier and sympathized with those cadets heaving the shot put and awkwardly finding their timing on the long jump.
There were plenty of first-time go's, but a fair share of repeats as well. Some cadets opted to throw the shot put underhand and backward, placing greater emphasis on leg strength.
Class of 2015 Cadet David Vinson was on his third attempt at the shot put and said finding the right technique was difficult.
"I see guys smaller than me doing it, so it's not just about raw strength," he said. "You have to find that right balance where you use both your legs and upper body strength."
He recorded a decent long jump on his second try. Again, having no prior experience with this event, it took some time to get a pace count and execute a qualifying jump.
Like most cadets, Vinson didn't mind the extra effort. Having earned the gold in the pistol shoot earlier in the day, he wanted to exceed the standards.
"I wouldn't settle for less," Vinson said.
Class of 2015 Cadet Steven Stringfield saw this as another goal he wanted to attain to remain competitive.
"It also increased my appreciation of the military now that I've learned more about this badge," Stringfield said. "I have a lot of respect for those who've earned it."