Friday, June 21, 2024

Yorktown-based Sailors Earn German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge

From left to right are Command Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Brandon Lindbeck, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Thomas Bryans, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Maxwell Church, Capt. Matthew Marcinkiewicz, NMRLC’s commanding officer and Capt. Brian Hatch, Director, Naval Ophthalmic Readiness Activity (NORA). Here, Church and Bryans hold their proficiency badge after having successfully completed the requirements to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge. (Courtesy Photo)

YORKTOWN — Retired Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class David Goggins is often referred to as the toughest man alive. His first stint in military service was with the U.S. Air Force Pararescue squad. Wasn’t tough enough. He then followed his dream of becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL which stands for Sea, Air, Land. As a SEAL, he attended the Army’s Ranger School and Delta Force Qualification Course. To further hone his athletic ability, Goggins competed in ultra sports, including triathlons, ironman competitions, and ultramarathons.

The physical ability required merely to be accepted to compete in these events are demanding, but there are many other multi-discipline sports in which military members can be involved.

Two Naval Medical Readiness Logistics Command (NMRLC) Naval Ophthalmic Readiness Activity (NORA) Yorktown Sailors proved they had the right stuff to compete in one such military competition.

Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Maxwell Church and Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Thomas Bryans, both successfully completed the requirements to qualify for the silver German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB).

The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (German: Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst) is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. The decoration can be awarded to all German Soldiers who earn it and Allied Soldiers may also be awarded the badge. Also, there are no restrictions to who can earn it. Any service member of any rank may be awarded the badge. In the United States Military, the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is one of the few approved foreign awards, and it is one of the most sought-after awards to achieve.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Thomas Bryans earns the secret handshake after successfully completing the rigorous requirements to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge. (Courtesy Photo)

There are three types of badges you can qualify for, bronze, silver and gold. The process that determines what badge you earned is unique in its own right. It is not what your overall final score of the four events that determines what badge you received, rather you must score or complete each event in the specific tier level (bronze, silver, or gold). For example, if at any point you score in the bronze tier, then you can only qualify for the bronze GAFPB, even if all the other events you scored or completed were in the gold tier. In order to qualify for the gold badge, you would have to complete all four events in the gold tier.

“This was an opportunity to show that I have what it takes to compete at the highest level,” said Church. “As an Assistant Command Fitness Leader, I recognized the requirements for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge were within the reach of my physical capabilities. The test was hard, and it wasn’t all physical fitness. From the very start, we had to don and doff chemical biological suits in a timed exercise.”

Those seeking to pursue this badge that signifies elite proficiency must first have a commanding officer’s evaluation acknowledging the individual is physically and morally fit. They must complete Tactical Combat Casualty Care Tier I or an equivalent course. After providing they can properly don a protective mask and all Nuclear, Biological, Chemical protective clothing, they then go on to the physical fitness portion.

“We had to complete three events within 90 minutes,” said Hospital Corpsmen 3rd Class Thomas Bryans. “There was an 11×10-meter sprint with a maximum time of 60 seconds. A flexed-arm hang, keeping the chin above the bar and holding there for at least five seconds. Then, there was the 1,000-meter run with a maximum time of six minutes and 30 seconds,” he said.

Participants then got into the meat of the qualification. In order to qualify for the GAFPB, participants must demonstrate their skill with one weapon qualification recognized in the Schützenschnur, but any of the following are recognized: light (pistole or MP), rifle and heavy weapon (MG or AT-launcher). There are several shooting exercises in the German Armed Forces used for each weapon which vary distance, number of targets, position of firing (standing, prone, lying down) and number of shots. The individual must reach a specified score on their respective qualification table.

Badge qualification includes a 100-meter swim while in military uniform and PT gear. The swim is conducted in uniform while wearing PT uniform (shorts and T-Shirt) underneath. There is a four-minute time limit for the swim. After the swim is completed, time stops; however, the individual must also successfully remove their outer uniform without touching the side of the pool in order to pass. The final event is a timed ruck march with a rucksack weighing 33lbs, but the distance varied based on what badge level you qualify for. For bronze you have 60 minutes to complete 6 km, for silver you have 90 minutes to complete 9 km, and for gold you have 120 minutes to complete 12 km.

While neither claim to be ready to take on the David Goggins of the world, these two NORA Sailors have proven with the right mental attitude and an uncommon determination, they have achieved success that few Navy Sailors have before.

“I am very proud to have achieved the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge. This proves that if an individual sets certain goals, there’s nothing that can prevent them from achieving them,” Bryans said.

Church echoed that sentiment. “This was a culmination of hard work, determination, support from our command, and a personal dedication to pursue a dream and conquer it. I am very proud of this personal achievement.”

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