1st Battalion 22nd Infantry



Story By Maj. Randy Cephus
1st BCT PAO, 4ID

May 2005


Overcoming obstacles is no big feat for the Swiss army officer, who has overcome the barriers of language, a different branch of service and a great body of water to be where he is today.

     Prior to his selection for training in the United States, Lt. Col. Romeo Fritz served in as an assistant operations officer and unit mobilization officer on a brigade staff. The 35-year-old officer joined the Swiss army when he was 20 years old and has been an officer for the past five years. Fritz also served as a company commander for a basic training unit.

     “The Swiss army is different from the U.S. Army,” said Fritz. “We are not a professional army so everyone must serve. Everyone comes in as a conscript. The best of these are selected to become an NCO. Then the best of the NCOs are selected to become an officer.” Officers must be able to speak at least two foreign languages, he said. The most common foreign languages include French and German as many soldiers have close ties to these bordering countries.

     Fritz’s command of the English language is what set him apart from his peers and played a significant role in his selection for training abroad. “To be selected to attend the training here in the states was an extremely competitive process among the officers,” he said. “Fluency in English was one of the criteria to be selected.” Besides an aptitude for language, Fritz is also gifted with athletic prowess as he was twice selected for the Swiss National Soccer Team. The avid sportsman said he also likes reading biographies and military history books.

     Fritz traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in the states in September to attend the Armor Officer Captain’s Career Course even though he is a light infantry officer. “It was a little awkward to attend the armor course with all captains and lieutenants, so in order to be better able to focus on learning, I directed my classmates to be on first name basis. I wanted to be able to make mistakes without someone thinking ‘he is a lieutenant colonel and does not know this or that,’” said Fritz.

     While at the CCC, Fritz was able to showcase his athleticism during the class’ Iron Man Competition. The competition consisted of a 400-meter swim, a 5-kilometer run, 100 push-ups, 20 pull-ups and a 20-kilometer road march. He placed fourth out of a field of 16 soldiers. “It was important for me to show the U.S. (soldiers) that we are in shape, trustworthy and we can do our jobs,” added Fritz.

     After completing CCC, the infantry officer came to the 1st Brigade Combat Team for on-the-job training.

     Fritz spent time with 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment during his OJT and said he was impressed with the 1st BCT leadership. “I am very impressed with the spirit of the battalion,” he said. “There is high level of camaraderie and respect for each other up and down the chain of command. “I am also grateful for this experience because I was made to be a member of the unit and was shown its strengths as well as its shortcomings. We can learn from strengths as well as weaknesses.”

     “The Regulars were proud to have such a fine officer participate in our training for a few days. Lt. Col. Fritz immediately fit in and provided us great insight into the Swiss Army. I wished he could have stayed longer,” said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, commander, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.

     After completing OJT, Fritz will tour the southern United States before heading back to Switzerland. He said he is interested in visiting New Orleans, Atlanta and Charleston, SC.

     His stint with the 1st BCT is the fourth time he has been to the states. He has also visited a number of other countries, to include Germany, France, Austria and Argentina.

     Fritz does not know what his next assignment will be upon his return to the Switzerland, but said he welcomes the challenge of overcoming yet another obstacle in getting the job assignment of his choice. “I would like to get an assignment in the Infantry School so I can share the knowledge I have gained here in the states with others,” concluded Fritz.



Home | Photos | Battles & History | Current |
Rosters & Reports | Medal of Honor | Killed in Action |
Personnel Locator | Commanders | Station List | Campaigns |
Honors | Insignia & Memorabilia | 4-42 Artillery | Taps |
What's New | Editorial | Links |