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Soldiers vie for rare German badge

by Denise Fitzpatrick, communications and marketing last modified Sep 25, 2012 11:57 AM

More than 150 soldiers and ROTC cadets will find out what they’re made of when they vie for a rare German Proficiency Badge Sept. 29 at the University of Louisville.

The military decoration, one of only a handful of foreign awards allowed to be worn on a U.S. Army uniform, is given to men and women who meet or exceed the standards for a list of physical tasks that rival the Olympic games.

Soldiers seeking the badge must hurl a shot put and clear a high jump, run a 100-meter sprint and 3,000-meter race, and march seven miles in two hours carrying a 22-pound pack—all in the same day. They will tackle the five tasks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The candidates already have had to pass a first-aid test, do a timed 200-meter swim and prove they can handle a 9 mm weapon.

“This is a great chance for a bunch of great Americans to compete for the privilege of wearing a coveted military award,” said Lt. Col. Mike Quitania, a UofL military science professor overseeing the competition. “It’s also going to be a lot of fun for us, our military partners and the community.”

More than 1,000 people are expected at the event, including soldiers from the Army’s 2-2 Infantry Battalion at Fort Knox and Tennessee Recruiting Battalion in Louisville and the Kentucky National Guard’s 198th Military Police Battalion, along with family and friends.

A three-story American flag flown from two Louisville Metro fire truck ladders, rock climbing wall, armored Humvees and food, vendor and game booths will be among the attractions.

Sgt. Maj. Thomas Kleinhenz, a German Bundeswehr officer assigned as a liaison to North America, will award the badges in a ceremony immediately after the competition.

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