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Battle of the Badges
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph firefighters from the 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron compete in the fire truck tug, the last of three events, at the 2013 Battle of the Badges April 20 at Eberle Park and Camp Talon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lincoln Korver/ Released)
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Security forces, firefighters duke out Battle of the Badges

Posted 5/2/2013   Updated 5/2/2013 Email story   Print story


by Alex Salinas
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

5/2/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Of three challenges that made up the Battle of the Badges, it came down to the last one - a fire truck tug - where firefighters pulled away with the victory, becoming three-time champions of the friendly competition between Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph firefighters and security forces members at Randolph's Eberle Park and Camp Talon April 20.

The first challenge was a force-on-force game of Capture the Flag using simulated ammunitions, which are bullet-like paintballs fired from modified M-4 rifles.

The second challenge was a firefighter relay contest where two five-man teams in full gear lugged firefighting equipment up a staircase, carried a training dummy around two cones and sprayed a target with a hose.

The annual battle, which began three years ago, started as a friendly conversation between a security forces member and a fire chief, where the security forces member wanted to drive a fire truck, Maj. Gregory Bodenstein, 902nd Security Forces Squadron commander, said.

The squadrons now enjoy one day where they can do each other's jobs, even if it's just for fun and bragging rights.

Despite a spirit of gamesmanship, the challenges were practical.

"In a force-on-force scenario, we're defending and aggressing against an enemy; it's very serious and I saw this as training," Bodenstein said. "Training opportunities make sure we're better prepared in the real world."

Although security forces dominated Capture the Flag and firefighters won the firefighter relay, one's career field does not always guarantee a win for any given event, Bodenstein said.

"Last year's security forces team lost the force-on-force challenge," he said. "This year, failure wasn't an option on that event for my squadron, but there's no predetermined conclusion."

At the end of the day, however, Battle of the Badges was about building camaraderie.

"The challenges weren't easy," Airman 1st Class Brett Olsen, 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, said. "It felt good to win, but it was healthy competition."

Next year's Battle of the Badges may grow beyond Randolph.

"As the 502nd Air Base Wing transforms, security forces and firefighters will have a larger footprint within the wing," Bodenstein said. "There's an idea of making this a 502nd ABW-wide event."

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