EWU ROTC takes top spot in military badge competition

The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge was awarded to 26 members of EWU ROTC


Courtesy of EWU ROTC

(Left to right) EWU ROTC Cadets Thomas Luce, Amayia Roberts and Megan Anderson compete in the flexed arm hang event. Competitors were required to complete a variety of tests in order to receive the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge.

By Sam Jackson, Copy Editor

Junior Nicholas Null has been preparing for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge since the beginning of his freshman year in the EWU ROTC program, and was successful in earning the gold badge on Nov. 18.

The GAFPB is a German military award that can be granted to Germany’s allies. There are three levels to the award including gold, silver and bronze. All ranks in the U.S. military have the opportunity to wear the badge, after participating in numerous tests that are administered by a German physical training instructor. EWU ROTC invited Sergeant Major Ronald Schiller, a German exchange NCO stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, to administer the test.

Null competed for the honor to wear the GAFPB along with 167 other members apart of 22 different U.S. military units throughout the West Coast. Other universities that competed included: Gonzaga University, University of Idaho, Washington State University, Seattle University, University of Washington and Central Washington University.

“To me, it means that I’ve come much farther than I ever would’ve had I not been here,” Null said. “It means that I’ve been doing all the right things. I’ve been working to achieve, not just the gold for the GAFPB, but it means I’m likely to get commissioned in the Army and that I’m likely to put myself on the path to a brighter future.”

According to Sergeant Jason Hennig, EWU ROTC MSIII and training NCO, the GAFPB is an award that military members will carry on with them throughout their entire careers.

“For them it shows they’ve prepared enough to be successful,” Hennig said. “Out of the 168 that we had come out, we only had 95 get awarded the badge. So, you can tell the ones who put forth the effort and cared about it. It represents hard work and there’s no better way to show hard work than to be able to wear something you got on your chest.”

In order to receive the badge, competitors must endeavour various tests including a 100-meter swim in full uniform, flexed arm hang, 1,000-meter sprint, and 11×10 meter sprint. In the 11×10, competitors laid on their stomach with their hands behind their back, ran 10-meters to go around a cone multiple times. Additionally, competitors had to shoot pistols and finish the event with a “Ruck March” in which they carried 33 pounds of weight on their backs and marched around campus for about seven miles.

Null remembers the Ruck March as the test he was most worried about because he wasn’t sure he could make it all the way.

“During the Ruck March at the end, we were listening to music and making jokes,” Null said. “Just trying to get through the end and pushing each other to succeed, where most of us have never done something like that before.”

EWU ROTC was the top unit that competed out of the entire competition and were awarded 26 GAFPB’s overall. Eight of the badges were gold, 17 silver and one bronze.

This was the first time EWU hosted this event. EWU ROTC plans to host the GAFPB test again next year, and invite even more military units to participate in the event.

“It was wonderful being able to talk to all of the other universities and see cadets who were brave enough to fail, because we did have a lot who didn’t get the badge but it was really cool watching them come out here and have the courage to put themselves out there and allow failure to happen,” Hennig said. “Because they learn from their failure, that they could’ve prepared better. It was a blast and a great way to spend the weekend.”