167th Airman wins coveted international award

Martinsburg, W.Va. -- The next time Tech. Sgt. Robby Duckwall puts on his dress blues, he'll be sporting a badge that only one other West Virginia Air National Guardsman has earned.
Duckwall secured a gold badge for his performance at the German Armed Forces Military Proficiency Competition at Camp Dawson, W.Va., Aug. 23-25.
The German Armed Forces introduced this competition in the 1970s to recognize and reward those serving who possess superior physical abilities. The award was also made available to allied nations.
Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Glazer Sr., the command chief for the 167th Airlift Wing, said German army personnel visit Camp Dawson annually to hold the competition that tests stamina, strength and military professionalism, focusing on war skills and fitness.
This was the first year the competition was opened to the West Virginia Air National Guard. Lt. Col. Kirk Teufel, from the 130th Airlift Wing, was the only other Air Guardsman to participate. Teufel also earned a gold badge.
"The West Virginia senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Harry, realized that Airmen were left out of the previously Army-only competition," Glazer said.
Adding: "He felt it was important to allow our Airmen to show their agility and strength through this competitive event with our West Virginia Army National Guard counterparts."
"It was cool to get to do something with the Army," Duckwall said. "Nowadays all the stuff that we do, we integrate with the Army."
The event kicked off on Friday evening with a combat lifesaver course. Participants had to pass a practical evaluation before proceeding to the rest of the competition. The other events included a pistol qualification, 200 meter swim, track and field events as well as a 7 and a-half mile, 35-pound ruck sack march.
Competitors could choose between a 100, 400 or 1000 meter sprint; a long jump or high jump; shot put, bench press or 100 meter swim, and 3000 meter run versus a 1000 meter swim.
"That's a great thing about the competition," Duckwall said. "They give you options."
The Martinsburg, W.Va., resident said he did the competition because he likes a challenge.
"You can't just be a runner, you have to be able to sprint. You have to have endurance, speed, agility and strength," he said.
Duckwall said he was apprehensive going into the competition because he didn't know what to expect, especially because there were only two Air Guardsmen there.
"We basically just wanted to represent the units for the Air Guard and have a good showing, but once we got there and started placing at the top of our events we decided to try to be the best," Duckwall said.
"We were up there with the best of them most of the time," he noted.
Glazer solicited volunteers for the event at the beginning of the summer, but Duckwall was the only person to volunteer. Duckwall said he was surprised that he was the only person from the unit to participate.
"We have a lot of athletes on base, a lot of people that like to run," he said. "I was surprised no one else volunteered."
Glazer hopes more people will enter the competition next year.
"We have many Airmen who would excel at the events," he said.
As for Duckwall's performance at the event this year, Glazer couldn't have been more proud with the Airman's accomplishment.
"My buttons are about to pop with the pride I feel for Tech. Sgt. Duckwall and his performance in this fitness laden competition," Glazer said. "He not only represented our wing and our enlisted personnel but the Air National Guard in West Virginia."
Adding: "We hope his accomplishment will inspire others to compete next year."