Saturday, November 10, 2012


Want a glimpse of how the Army trains potential officers in college these days? My grandson Kevin's ROTC battalion at Northern Illinois University sent nine cadets (Kevin was the only freshman) to Western Illinois University last weekend for the chance to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge. ROTC units from twelve mid-western schools including the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Iowa State Univertsity and Wheaton College. There were almost 300 cadets in total participating.

The German Army permits members of other allied military units to compete for this badge which the U.S. Army allows its soldiers to wear on the dress uniform. The test sets rigorous standards and includes Track and Field events, marksmanship, swimming and a two hour hike with full military gear and 35 pound ruck pack. A German Army officer is required to be present to observe the testing.

Kevin had never fired an Army weapon before. In his first attempt with the 9mm pistol, he missed every target. He went back in the line to await a second chance and then hit enough to qualify for the bronze version of the proficiency badge. After the swimming competition, he said he wanted to go back to the range and fire again. This time, he inadvertently had his thumb in the wrong position using a two-handed grip and the recoil mechanism on his first shot ripped a gash in his thumb. He came out with blood dripping down his hand and went into the men's room to clean it. Someone helped with a bandage for it. Then, he went right back to the pistol range and, with a bloody hand, hit every one of the targets thereby earning the gold version of the badge. This proves my theory that bleeding soldiers rarely miss.

The track events were very easy for Kevin and it was the main reason that they allowed him as a freshman to participate. He won the 5K race so handily that he lapped the second place finisher beating him by over a minute. He's still barely 18 but it looks like we might have another Lieutenant Smith in the family in four years.

(Turn up sound.)

"An army of asses led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by an ass." -- George Washington

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