‘Highlanders’ display excellence with 18 badges, top GAFBMP competitor
Spc. Brandon A. Bednarek,
4th BCT, 1st Armored Div. Public Affairs:
For the third consecutive year, Fort Bliss has carried out its bi-annual tradition of testing Soldier proficiency against German military standards by way of a comprehensive physical event.
Twenty-seven “Highlander” Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, took part in a four-day endurance challenge in an attempt to solidify their chances of earning the coveted German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency.
The event, which was proctored by German servicemembers from the German Air Defense Center here at Fort Bliss, required Soldiers to meet or exceed the proficiency standards for each of the seven events, which included a 200-meter swim, high jump, 100-meter sprint, shot put, 3,000-meter run, marksmanship shoot and a 12-kilometer road march.
“It’s really a well-rounded physical ability test, Soldiers finish it in four days and they’re pretty tired,” said Maj. Bob Wagner, the event’s military liaison and executive officer for the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade.
Testing their endurance, strength, agility and quickness, the Soldiers’ overall performances in the evaluations determined the level of prestige for their badge, which is separated into bronze, silver and gold categories.
Because the 200-meter swim is normally the most failed event of the competition, it was placed first in September’s GAFBMP sequence of events and used to immediately eliminate Soldiers from the competition.
With several competitors already eliminated, open slots became available to fill the competition’s maximum number of participants. At a moment’s notice, Spc. Corey Bell, an infantryman assigned to the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, was offered a slot to compete as a replacement competitor.
Although initially having difficulties in the long jump event, Bell rallied on to receive a first-time “Go” for each course event, particularly in the alternate 1,000-meter swim, where he finished with a time of 17:54, missing the Fort Bliss record by only seven seconds.
“It was challenging the whole time,” he said. “I think the training days they set up for us really helped.”
Not only did Bell do well in each event, he excelled above all other participants, earning both a gold GAFBMP and the overall best competitor award for the entire four-day event.
“I was really surprised, I didn’t know that they chose a top competitor,” said Bell. “It’s a great sense of pride and accomplishment. I’m glad I can set that kind of example for my Soldiers.”
Fourteen other Highlanders also earned the gold badge, with one Soldier earning silver, and two earning bronze.
“The brigades sent Soldiers who deserve to be here, that represent their own excellence and that of their unit,” said Wagner. “That’s what it’s all about.”
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