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OHIO’s Bobcat Battalion hosts testing for foreign awards badge (PHOTOS)

Participants brave snow, winter whiteout to earn 79 gold badges, 45 silver


Ohio University’s Bobcat Battalion hosted the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB) testing for the fifth consecutive year on Feb. 13 and 14.

A total of 149 participants competed this year, including Ohio Army National Guard units, Army and Air Force cadets from Ohio University as well as cadets from Capital University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Dayton, Marshall University, Ohio State University and Wright State University.

The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is one of the few foreign awards that is authorized to be worn on United States military uniforms. One requirement to host the testing for this badge is that a German liaison be present during the event.

Through an enduring relationship with Ohio University Army ROTC, the German liaison team from Quantico, Va., made the six-hour trip. Lt. Col. Martin Stahlschmidt and Master Sgt. Franco Kramer were extremely pleased with the organization and efficiency of the event. Prior to departure, they had already agreed to return next year and provide additional soldiers and cadets an opportunity to compete.

The competition began Friday afternoon and ended Saturday evening. The participants competed for either a gold, silver or bronze badge in the following events:

  • First aid
  • A basic fitness test that included chin-ups, a 1,000-meter run and 11 by 10 meter sprints
  • Donning of chemical protection equipment
  • A 100-meter swim in combat uniform followed by the ditching of the uniform while treading water
  • A 9-millimeter pistol qualification
  • A ruck march of 6 to 12 kilometers (depending on which medal they were competing for) carrying a rucksack weighing 33 pounds

Erin Muri, a sophomore cadet in the Bobcat Battalion, discussed the most difficult event for her during the weekend, the 100-meter swim test.

“It tested me mentally and physically,” Muri said. “I went to the Aquatic Center as much as I could and just swam until I felt I was mastering the strokes that I needed in order to complete the task. It was a great feeling when I passed the event.” Cadet Muri earned the gold GAFPB.

The 100-meter combat swim was the most difficult event for the participants by far with 27 no-go’s, or incompletes.

During the final event of the weekend, the ruck march, the weather in Athens took a turn. The participants rucked in 18-degree weather with 19-mph winds. Toward the end of the ruck, the winds had picked up to 22-mph and it began snowing. This weather did not discourage the participants, however.

Elizabeth Jamieson, a senior in Ohio University’s Army ROTC, said, “About halfway through the ruck, it began snowing so bad you couldn’t see but a few feet in front of you. The wind was pushing at our backs though, helping up to keep up our pace and finish strong.”

Twenty-four of the 44 Ohio University Army ROTC participants earned the gold badge. Seven of the eleven competing Air Force ROTC participants earned a gold badge. Overall, 79 of the 149 participants were awarded gold badges with 45 receiving silver.

During the award’s ceremony, Bobcat Battalion’s professor of military science, Lt. Col. Terry St. Peter said, “[The GAFPB] is a tough test, and I appreciate the hard work and enthusiasm each of you demonstrated this weekend.”

Here are some snapshots from the weekend, courtesy of Caroline Pirchner:

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Cadets Phil Cutsinger and Joey Nelson, first-year students in Ohio University's Army ROTC program, race to finish the last stretch of the 1,000-meter run at OHIO’s Walter Fieldhouse.

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Cadet Megan Edwards, a member of the University of Dayton Fighting Flyers Battalion, successfully dons her gas mask during the nuclear, biological and chemical training portion of the competition in Walter Fieldhouse at Ohio University.

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Cadet Sam O'Harra, a sophomore in Ohio University's Army ROTC program, holds two magazines at Hocking shooting range in Nelsonville, Ohio. Participants had to qualify with a Beretta 9-millimeter handgun.

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Members of the National Guard shoot their remaining rounds for the handgun qualification portion of the competition in Nelsonville, Ohio.

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Cadet Tyler Foster of Marshall University's Army ROTC program and Cadet Jesse McKown of Ohio University’s Army ROTC program weigh rucks to ensure they are the proper weight for the final event of the competition.

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Ohio University Army and Air Force ROTC cadets pose for a picture after the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency ceremony at the Baker University Center Theatre.

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Lt. Col. Terry St. Peter, the commander of the Ohio University Army ROTC's Bobcat Battalion, shows his gratitude toward the German liaisons, Master Sgt. Franco Kramer and Lt. Col. Martin Stahlschmidt from the United States Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., for traveling to Ohio University to observe the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency competition. St. Peter gifted them with Ohio University glass mugs as tokens of the Bobcat Battalion's appreciation.