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NEWS | Nov. 8, 2015

Striving for gold, making history

By Sgt. Carlene E. Vera 1st Mission Support Command

PONCE, Puerto Rico- On Nov. 7, 138 Soldiers from the 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve Puerto Rico, U.S. Army Recruiters- San Juan, 1st Army, ARCD and Cadet Command came together to compete for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB) at Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Through countless hours of coordination and training, the 613th Military Police Detention Company was able to host the GAFPB qualification in collaboration with personnel from the German Armed Forces. This is the first time that the GAFPB qualification has been conducted in Puerto Rico and these Soldiers are now a part of history.
The competition consists of a Basic Fitness Test (BFT) and Military Training part. The BFT includes an 11X 10-meter sprint test, chip-up test (flex arm hang) and a 1000 meter run which have to be completed within 90 minutes. The military training part consists of five events which include a 100 meter swim in uniform, First Aid test, NBC MOPP Test, Pistol Qualification and a road march.

Beginning the day’s event, Soldiers received their briefing and guidance for the first event of the competition, the 100m swim.
“I hope you all enjoy this event and give it your all. Remember, we are making history together,” said Sgt. Major Mike Kitzler from the German Armed Forces Liaison Office and Certifying Official for the competition. This is the first time the GAFPB Competition is conducted in Puerto Rico and therefore he is the first German Certifying Official for the Competition on the Island.  “I hope that tomorrow I will be able to give a gold, silver or bronze medal to each of you at the ceremony, so let’s enjoy this competition”, concluded Kitzler.

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. It is one of the few approved foreign awards, and one of the most sought after awards to achieve. The Competition consists of performing the best that you can on a series of events to obtain a single-event result (individual test times) that will be translated into a graduated point-score system.

Soldiers who meet the minimum pass requirements are awarded basic points per event. The better the Soldier performance, the more points are awarded for the respective event.  The point rating goes from 100-199 Fair, 200 to 299 is Satisfactory (Bronze Medal), 300 to 399 is Good (Silver Medal) and the highest, 400 points (Gold Medal).

"I feel like I was up to the challenge. I have been training and it paid off. I want the gold badge", said Spc. Elis Fargas from the 389th Finance Detachment after finishing the BFT portion of the competition.
Everyone pushed their limits to perform to the best of their capabilities and Spc. Keyla Agosto from the 268TH Cargo Transfer Company and Spec. Rafael Hernandez from the 389th Finance Detachment were no exception.
“I feel good, I was surprised that I was able to hold 46 seconds on the bar. I am pushing for the gold,” said Spec. Agosto after finishing the flex arm hang event and the 11x10 meter sprint test.  
"I feel awesome, I made it, the rest is gold..." said Spec. Rafael Hernandez from the 389thFinance Detachment in an enthusiastic and excited voice after completing the swimming event.
Sgt. Maj. Mike Kitzler was impressed by the high caliber of execution by the Soldiers and encouraged them to keep training and motivate other Soldiers to compete for the GAFPB in February 2016.
“I am looking forward to continue the collaboration with the Army Reserve in Puerto Rico and I hope more Soldiers get motivated and compete next February when I come back for the next competition,” added Kitzler. “I saw the score sheets and all the Soldiers did an outstanding job, I know next year everybody will be better prepared and trained because they will know the events and how they need to get fit for the competition.”
By the end of day two, Soldiers were anxious to hear the results and know what German Badge they earned.  “I finally made it, I was pushing myself really hard and trying my best. I got what I wanted, now I can say that I was able to earn my Gold GAFPB Medal and if I was able to accomplish this, all of my fellow Soldiers can as well,” said Spc. Rafael Hernandez.  

Hernandez wasn’t the only one who earned the Gold GAFPB. Spec. Keyla Agosto was also awarded the Gold GAFPB. “I gave my best, as well as all the Soldiers that competed from my unit, most of us got the Gold or Silver Medal. I am definitely going to motivate other Soldiers from my unit to come and compete next February. It was hard, but it feels great to be able represent females Soldiers and get what I was pushing for, the Gold Medal.

A total of 21 Soldiers earned the Gold GAFPB, 30 earned the Silver GAFPB and 4 earned the Bronze (GAFPB). The remainder of the Soldiers have one year to complete the remainder of the events in order to receive their badge.