130th Airlift Wing Defenders earn Foreign Medal

MCLAUGHLIN AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, W.Va -- MCLAUGHLIN AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, W.Va. –Nine defenders from the 130th Airlift Wing were awarded the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB) Sept. 16, 2017, at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, Charleston, West Virginia.

The GAFPB (German: Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst) is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The process to obtain this badge is arduous. It begins at the home unit where each member must complete various tasks to be permitted to attempt the test, such as showcasing self-aid buddy care skills and the Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical test (NBC).
After fulfilling the home station requirements, the 130th AW defenders traveled to Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, May 3, to complete a three-day physical training test.

During the first day, the test was administered to include a 1,000-meter run, 11 by 10-meter sprints, a chin-up test (flexed-arm hang), and lastly, a 9mm marksmanship test.

Each military member could only earn the GAFPB for the lowest badge in which they qualified. For example, if they scored high enough for a gold in the sprints, silver in the 1,000-meter run, and bronze in the chin-up test, they couldn't earn above a bronze. Also, if the minimum requirements for a bronze wasn't met for any one event, the military member would be ineligible for a badge.

For Staff Sgt. Brody Williams, who earned a silver badge, the marksmanship test proved to be the most challenging.

“The pistol was actually the hardest part for me because you don’t get a warmup,” said Williams. “You get six shots and if you messed it up, then you were out.”

On the second day, they performed a 100-meter swim in full uniform. As soon as the swim was completed, they had to take off their uniform in the pool and throw it out.

This event proved to be a new and challenging experience for Staff Sgt. Johnathan Flynn who earned a gold badge.

“For me, in addition to not swimming every day, I’d never taken off a full uniform inside of a pool and thrown it out,” Flynn said. “So that was just completely different than anything I’ve done.”

On the final day, each member completed a timed 35-pound ruck march of three distances: 12-kilometers, nine-kilometers, and six-kilometers depending on the badge that they were eligible for. The 12-kilometer ruck march had to be completed in 120 minutes or less to be eligible for gold, nine-kilometers in 90 minutes or less to be eligible for silver, and six-kilometers completed in 60 minutes or less to be eligible for bronze.

As one of the few foreign badges that are authorized to be worn on the U.S. military uniform, the GAFPB is one of the most highly sought-after awards. This, along with the chance to compete with their fellow, members were major appeals to both Williams and Flynn.

“Because this is one of the only foreign badges that you can wear on your blues, it kind of sets us apart from other people,” Williams said.

“I like being different and I like awards,” Flynn added. “I’m a competitor, so anytime I get something that shows I came out on top or excelled at something that definitely gives me a sense of satisfaction.”

Of the nine security forces defenders to participate from the 130th Airlift Wing, five earned a gold GAFPB while the other four earned a silver medal.
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