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Posted: April 6, 2018 10:15 a.m.
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Soldiers compete for regional Best Warrior Competition

Spc. Noelle Wiehe/

Soldiers in the medical career management field fire an M4 carbine during a range at Fort Stewart, March 26. The qualification range was one of several events during the Regional Health Command – Atlantic’s Best Warrior Competition.

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Winn Army Community Hospital hosted the Regional Health Command-Atlantic 2018 Best Warrior competition March 25-28, at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Fifteen noncommissioned officers and 15 Soldiers assigned to installations across the region’s area of operation participated in the annual event. 

“This competition involves Soldiers from every Army medical facility east of the Mississippi River,” said Col. Christopher H. Warner, commander, U.S. Army Medical Activity-Fort Stewart. “These Soldiers faced off against each other to determine who the best of the best is.” 

The arduous four-day event consisted of a physical fitness tests, stress shoot, obstacle course, land navigation, medical trauma lanes, urban warfare simulations, Soldier tasks and drills and a 12-mile foot march. Contestants were also tested on their aptitude through boards, interviews and written exams. 

“Between the physical challenges and mental challenges - we’re talking 16 to 18 hour days – grueling physical competition and then asking them to remember difficult mental skills to test them to recreate what we would expect them to be able to do in a combat environment,” said Warner.

The unpredictable weather pattern southeastern Georgia is well-known for added an extra twist to the already exhausting competition. 

“We used the environmental variables to tax them,” said Warner. “If I’m accustomed to training at Fort Drum, New York, I may not be ready for the heat or these swamps. Especially at Fort Stewart’s land navigation course. Depending on the weather it can go from finding points in dry land to walking through several feet of water.” 

Command Sgt. Maj. Carol L. Warren-Clark, command sergeant major of U.S. Army Medical Activity-Fort Stewart, emphasized the idea that the competition promotes esprit de corps and more importantly, provides a training opportunity some participants don’t often get. 

“Our Soldiers assigned to the Medical Command typically work in a patient care setting, where as our medics assigned to Forces Command are out there with their units, Soldiers and equipment,” said Warren-Clark. “Often times while working in a medical facility, our Soldiers do not get exposed to some aspects of the operational Army such as ranges, road marches or field training exercises. This competition gives them that exposure.”

In the end, Staff Sgt. Chase B. Johnson, McDonald Army Health Center located in Fort Eustis, Virginia and Spc. Cody L. Shedd from Lyster Army Health Clinic in Fort Rucker, Alabama were crowned the RHC-A Soldiers and NCO of the year. 

"We always have to be technically proficient, but it's also extremely important as non-commissioned officers to be tactically proficient," said Johnson. "I am enthusiastic about my job and all aspects of it and the warrior part just happens to be the most fun."

The two RHC-A winners will represent the regional command during the Department of the Army Medical Command’s Best Warrior Competition this summer at Camp Bullis, Texas.

Johnson praised MEDDAC Fort Stewart for the incredible and real-world elements of the competition they included. Additionally, he thanked the competitors who remaining “in the suck” with him throughout the early, demanding mornings and late, strenuous nights. 

"This competition was tough, it was grueling, it was tough, it was long," said Shedd. "There were days when I didn't know if I could go any further, but I just had to keep pushing myself and I got through it and I feel like I can take anything on after this."

Both Johnson and Shedd were awarded the Army Commendation Medal for their accomplishments. 

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