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Schriever Airmen qualify for foreign military badge

Senior Airman Brian Parra, 2nd Space Operations Squadron satellite systems operator, swims the 100 meter swim to see if he qualifies for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge at the Iron Horse Sports and Field Center at Fort Carson June 30, 2015. The event required participants to complete the swim in less than four minutes while wearing their military uniform and a physical training uniform underneath. After the swim was completed, they had to successfully remove their outer uniform without touching the sides of the pool to pass the event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

Senior Airman Brian Parra, 2nd Space Operations Squadron satellite systems operator, swims the 100 meter swim to see if he qualifies for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge at the Iron Horse Sports and Field Center at Fort Carson June 30, 2015. The event required participants to complete the swim in less than four minutes while wearing their military uniform and a physical training uniform underneath. After the swim was completed, they had to successfully remove their outer uniform without touching the sides of the pool to pass the event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

Capt. Derek Day, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, competes in the 11 x 10 meter sprint test at the qualification for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge held at Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center at Fort Carson June 30, 2015. The sprint test was a shuttle run, where service members had to sprint down and back around cones and drop to the ground and clap their hands behind their back before heading down and back again. The maximum amount of time allowed to complete the event was 60 seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

Capt. Derek Day, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, competes in the 11 x 10 meter sprint test at the qualification for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge held at Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center at Fort Carson June 30, 2015. The sprint test was a shuttle run, where service members had to sprint down and back around cones and drop to the ground and clap their hands behind their back before heading down and back again. The maximum amount of time allowed to complete the event was 60 seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

Members of the U.S. Army and Air Force prepare to run the 1,000 meter run/sprint to qualify for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge June 30, 2015, at the Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center. Participants had to clock a time of 6 minutes, 30 seconds or better for the pass/fail event. For each of the eight required events, the qualifications were the same, regardless of gender or age. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

Members of the U.S. Army and Air Force prepare to run the 1,000 meter run/sprint to qualify for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge June 30, 2015, at the Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center. Participants had to clock a time of 6 minutes, 30 seconds or better for the pass/fail event. For each of the eight required events, the qualifications were the same, regardless of gender or age. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

Airmen from the 2nd Space Operations Squadron pose for a team photo after the swimming portion of the qualification events for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge at Nelson Indoor Pool at Fort Carson June 30, 2015. The badge is awarded to German soldiers of all ranks as well as Allied service members, depending on the nation’s uniform regulations. To receive the award, service members had to meet minimum requirements in a basic fitness test (11 x 10 meter sprint, flexed arm hang, and 1,000 meter run), 100 meter swim in military uniform, marksmanship and a 12 km road march.(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

Airmen from the 2nd Space Operations Squadron pose for a team photo after the swimming portion of the qualification events for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge at Nelson Indoor Pool at Fort Carson June 30, 2015. The badge is awarded to German soldiers of all ranks as well as Allied service members, depending on the nation’s uniform regulations. To receive the award, service members had to meet minimum requirements in a basic fitness test (11 x 10 meter sprint, flexed arm hang, and 1,000 meter run), 100 meter swim in military uniform, marksmanship and a 12 km road march.(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

FORT CARSON, Colo. -- "It was the best, worst fun I've had in a long time and I would absolutely go through it again."

Senior Airmen Brian Parra, 2nd Space Operations Squadron satellite system operator, said he first learned about the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge several years ago, and has wanted it ever since.

His unit at Schriever Air Force Base, the 2nd SOPS, sent five Airmen to compete and try to qualify for the foreign military badge at several locations at Fort Carson, June 30-July 1. Airmen who competed were Parra; Lt. Col. Todd Benson, 2nd SOPS commander; Capt. Derek Day, 2nd SOPS mission commander; Capt. Jonathan Plyler, 2nd SOPS mission commander; and 2nd Lt. Mark Skinner, 2nd SOPS payload systems operator.

The GAFPB is a decoration worn by German military of all ranks, but may also be worn by allied military members if their nation's uniform code allows. To qualify for the badge, each participant must complete eight requirements, said retired Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Douglas, GAFPB senior evaluator.

He said each service member must complete a Combat Lifesaver Training course, demonstrate they can properly don nuclear, biological and chemical warfare protective clothing as well as meet minimum requirements in the 11 x 10 meter sprint, flexed-arm hang, 1,000 meter run/sprint, 100 meter swim in military uniform, a 12 km ruck and pistol marksmanship.

One of the most alluring parts of competing for the badge was that it takes a skill set that isn't very common in the Air Force, Day said.

"From an Air Force perspective, it gave us a first-hand look at the physical competencies demanded of our Army and allied counterparts," he said. "Through experiencing what they experience and by demonstrating that we could keep up, we built a mutual respect."

Parra said it was a little intimidating trying to qualify for the award surrounded by Army on their turf, but in the end the networking added a sense of camaraderie when competing alongside fellow service members.

"The badge brings along a lot of esprit de corps for those testing with each other," he said. "Everyone is feeling the same stress and physical demand to make the time hacks. It didn't matter who was beating who or what unit they came from."

Benson said being from a small unit allowed them to get to know the Soldiers better, and helped develop a better appreciation for our brothers and sisters in arms.

"My favorite part of working with the Army was how they brought us into their team," he said. "During the ruck run, a Soldier was by my side motivating me for over 6 kilometers - all the way to the finish line."

The official results have not yet been released; however everyone from 2nd SOPS finished each event with at least the minimum requirements and will receive the German Armed Force Proficiency Badge.

Unofficially, based out of the 66 participants, Douglas said 32 qualified for the gold medal, 23 qualified for silver and one qualified for bronze.

In the next couple months, Douglas said he wants to hold another qualification event, this time at Peterson AFB. There needs to be at least 50 participants interested to hold the event, so get friends and coworkers together and form a team.

Units from either Peterson or Schriever interested in hosting the event can contact Douglas at gafpb.fcco@gmail.com.

Let's see how space nerds stack up next to combat Army troops.
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