Airmen earn German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jeremy J. McClure
  • 185th ARW Public Affairs
A 12-kilometer road march with a 33-pound rucksack is not a typical activity that one would find an Airmen participating in, but during the first weekend in November, Senior Airman Josh Davis and Master Sgt. Valerie Rose, members of the Iowa National Guard's 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, Iowa, found them doing just that. The road march was part of testing for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge held in Ames and Camp Dodge, Iowa.

Davis and Rose were part of a group of eight Airmen with the 185th who along with 139 other Guardsman and ROTC cadets from across Iowa earned the GAFPB during testing.

"This is not just some award...this is a mark of what a soldier should be," said Sgt. Maj. Michael Kern, the German Army's liaison to Fort Rucker, Alabama. Kern oversaw the testing of the Guardsman and Cadets to ensure that all candidates completed the required tasks. 

On the first day of testing, participants completed an 11x10 meter relay sprint, a flexed arm hang, and a 1,000-meter run.  The testing was conducted at the Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa.

The following day, the Guardsmen were challenged with a 100 meter timed swim in uniform. After completing the swim, they had to remove their uniform while in the water. After the swim, participants completed a test of their marksmanship skills by engaging targets from 25-meters with the service pistol. The final test of the weekend for the Airmen and other participants was the timed road march.

"My husband and I had gone to the YMCA and practiced the swim with our uniforms on," said Rose who has been with the 185th for over 20 years. "I wasn't sure what to expect for this and wanted to be ready."

The GAFB is more than just the tests, explained Kern. The participants also have to have a letter from their commanders stating that they are in good standing with the unit before they can earn the GAFPB.

Before being eligible to compete, participants also had to demonstrate their ability to properly wear Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical protection gear as well as successfully complete a test of their first aid knowledge.

"I never really did anything like that before," said Davis about the road march. Despite his lack of exposure to hiking with distances with a pack, he was able to complete the long march in less than two hours.

There are three levels for the GAFPB that participants could have earned: bronze, silver, and gold. The levels are determined by their performance during the testing. Five members of the 185th were able to earn gold badges while three earned silver.

"I just wanted to do the best I could and not fail any of the tasks," said Rose. She ended up earning a gold badge.

The Airmen and other participants were awarded their badges during a ceremony held after the road march. Major General Timothy Orr, the Adjutant General for the State of Iowa, presented the badges to the Guardsman and Cadets along with Kern who presented a certificate to each recipient.

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