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Army cadets compete for German badge in military proficiency

Christian Myers | Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Notre Dame’s Army ROTC program prepares cadets for American military life, but this weekend members of the Fightin’ Irish Battalion will compete for German recognition.

Four cadets will compete for the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency, awarded by the German Army, known as the Bundeswehr.

Senior Josh Sandler, will compete for the award along with Holy Cross sophomore triplets Randy Jozwiak, Matt Jozwiak and Allen Jozwiak. The group will participate this weekend in Indianapolis, with Sandler serving as the team leader. Each will vie for his own badge individually.

Sandler said though the German army gives the award, it is for American participants.

“The German Armed Forces Badge is an award for military proficiency from the German army, authorized to be awarded to and worn by Americans,” he said.

The competition takes place over two and a half days and is comprised of eight separate individual events ­— a 200-meter swim, a 100-meter sprint, a five-kilometer run, a long jump, a shot put competition, a first aid test, a 9 mm pistol shoot and a march carrying a 33-pound pack called a “ruck march.”

Competitors have to meet or exceed a standard of performance in each event. These standards vary for different age brackets and are based on gender.

Further, some events are referred to as “go, no go” contests, and others determine whether a competitor receives a gold, silver or bronze badge, Matt Jozwiak said.

“Go, no go” means a competitor will no longer continue in the competition if they fail to meet an event’s standards. Jozwiak said an example of a “go, no go” event is the long jump, where competitors are disqualified if they do not jump at least 4.5 meters.

Other events in this category are the 200-meter swim, the 100-meter sprint, the five-kilometer run and the shot put.

Jozwiak said the first-aid test is similar to the “go, no go” physical event, as competitors must pass in order to receive a badge.

The shooting competition and the “ruck march” determine the type of badge a competitor is eligible to receive, Jozwiak said.

“There is a shooting competition with a 9 mm pistol. You have five chances to hit a target 25 meters away,” he said. “Three out of five is the minimum to still be eligible for a badge. If you hit the target five times you are eligible for gold, four times you are eligible for silver, and three times you are eligible for bronze.”

The “ruck march” is the final competition and determines what type of badge an individual earns, Jozwiak said. Different distances and time standards for the march are required for different types of badges.

Sandler said he wanted to compete for the German Armed Forces badge for the prestige.

“In the Army, you wear your resume on your chest,” he said. “This is a shiny new bullet point.”

Jozwiak said he is competing for the badge because he has never participated in a similar experience.

“I really just wanted to do it because I’ve never done anything like the track-and-field events before,” he said. “The experience itself is what I’m looking forward to. I also want to better myself physically.”

Sandler said all of the Notre Dame ROTC cadets have a chance at a badge this weekend.

“It’s not a participation ribbon, but if we continue to put the work in every one of us is capable of coming home with some hardware,” he said.

Jozwiak said he is confident at least one of the four teammates will come home victorious.

“Personally, I don’t know how I will do,” he said. “I think as a team we’ll come back with some badges, at least one gold.”