By 1st Lt. Fernando Ochoa (91st Training Division)June 18, 2012
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - The 91st Training Division hosted service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, in a competition to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge at Fort Hunter Liggett. Besides testing fitness, the event helps build partner-nation relationships. It is a highly coveted decoration traditionally earned by soldiers of the German Army, but can be earned by U.S. soldiers.
In order to earn the badge in the United States, a German Army liaison officer must be present to validate each event. German army Sgt. Maj. Kay Rogge, noncommissioned officer in charge at the German Liaison Office at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., was present to witness the event.
"For the German soldier this is a common award, but here in the US it is totally different. Here in America it is a big award and I am happy to be here to watch this event," Rogges said.
Rogge was invited here by the event organizer, Capt. Gregory G. Hampton, the 91st Training Division's headquarters company commander. "It is an honor to be here and I am proud that American service members want to earn and wear this badge on their uniform," said Rogge.
Hampton earned a GAFPB in 2007 at Leonard Wood, Mo., and was inspired to organize this event after he met two German Army Officers during a training exercise in 2011. He invited units from the Presidio at Monterey, the 31st Seabee Readiness Group and a National Guard Special Forces Company from California to join Soldiers for the competition.
"It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. I'm very happy with the results," said Hampton. "The success of this event showcases the 91st Division's ability to arrange and execute a multiservice event."
Open to service members of all ranks, the two-day competition includes five primary events on the first day, and a 9mm weapons qualification and a fast-paced road march on the second. Candidates had to complete each event successfully to continue: failure in any primary event resulted in elimination from the competition.
The second day's events determined which badge - gold, silver or bronze - competitors earned. The final event of the competition was a grueling road march, with each participant carrying at least a 33-pound rucksack. The fast pace turned it into a grueling test of will. Sgt. 1st Class Lisa M. Mayes of the 91st Division Headquarters, exhausted after the march, was excited to earn a gold badge, saying, "My feet hurt, but other than that I'm good."
When the badges were handed out, 28 competitors won gold, 20 earned silver and six received bronze. The badges were presented by 91st Division Commander Brig. Gen. James T. Cook and Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Chatman at the Fort Hunter Liggett theater. Cook said he was impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of all of the competitors. "I want to thank everyone for coming. This competition is not only a physical ordeal, it is also a mental test."
After the ceremony Hampton said, "I can't wait to start planning next year's event."