DeKALB – The Northern Illinois University ROTC program sent nine cadets to Macomb, where Western Illinois University’s ROTC program hosted an event to earn a foreign military badge.
The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is a decoration awarded to German soldiers who meet the rigorous physical standards set forth by the Bundeswehr. It also can be earned by non-German soldiers. There are very few opportunities for U.S. soldiers to earn a foreign award, making this event especially attractive to NIU’s ROTC cadets.
The most challenging part is that a German officer or non-commissioned officer must preside over the event. Sgt. Major Matthias Lueck from the German Liaison Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., presided.
A candidate may choose from a menu of events focusing on his or her strengths, but must meet the standards in all attempted events in order to earn the badge. Choices include track and field events such as the long jump, high jump, shotput and 3,000-meter run. All candidates are tested on pistol marksmanship and swimming. The final event is a march with a pack of at least 33 pounds on a 7.5-mile course, which must be completed within two hours.
All nine of the NIU cadets earned the badge and will wear the decoration proudly for the rest of their military careers. Earning the badge were seniors Taylor Hartsough, Thomas Kneifel and Rafeal Salgado; juniors Kevin Ernster and Jeff Lobue; sophomores Justin Andrzejewski, Steven Ndisabiye and Sean Johnson; and freshman Kevin Smith.