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Stethoscopes and hospital beds were replaced with rifles and sleeping bags, as Army medical professionals from various military installations competed in Regional Health Command-Pacific’s Best Leader Competition here last week at Joint Base Lewis-McCord (JBLM).

Three days of intense competition that brought more than 20 Soldiers from across RHC-P – some coming from as far away as South Korea, Japan, Alaska, and Hawaii – ended in a ceremony June 18, where the team representing Desmond T. Doss Army Health Clinic came away winners.

The DDHC team consisted of Capt. Jason Christman, Staff Sgt. Israel Rivera, and Spc. Jarrett Rodriguez.

RHC-P’s senior enlisted advisor said the BLC provided competitors with challenges different from those they usually experience.

“Soldiers in the medical profession don’t see the field very often,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Abuoh E. Neufville, the RHC-P command sergeant major. “The competition is important because this is an opportunity to demonstrate their Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, while also showcasing their esprit de corps.”

The competitors tackled a variety of events over the course of their week in Washington. As the temperature rises in Washington State, these soldiers didn’t slow down.

A written test and essay on basic Army knowledge kick-started Day Zero, followed by a confidence course and oral knowledge board, where participants were peppered with a series of questions from sergeants major and senior NCOs, while having to maintain a professional demeanor.

Competitors arose early the next day for the Army’s new Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), which measured upper and lower body strength through the deadlift, standing power throw, sprint, drag and carry, hand release pushups, leg tucks, and a two-mile run.

“The ACFT was wonderful,” said 1st Sgt. Amy Davis, assigned to U.S. Army Medical Department Activity – Korea. “It’s much better than the old test because it’s a real workout, giving you more of an idea of where your weak areas are.”

Soldiers saw little sleep for the remainder of the competition. Land navigation obstacles during the daytime were immediately followed by land navigation in the dark, followed by M-4 carbine qualification.

The participants were then surprised with a mystery event, where they were split into paintball teams. Their task was to make their way into a building and assist in evacuating a simulated casualty.

The final event was a road march around Gray Army Airfield, in full equipment and rucksack, which started at 2:00 a.m.

The competition concluded on June 18 with a ceremony honoring the winning team.

“It felt really satisfying,” said Capt. Jason Christman, of the winning team, an optometrist at DDHC. “I am grateful to the people who put on such a great competition. It gave us a run for our money.”

Second place went to the team from Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, consisting of 1st Lt. Sarah Davis, Master Sgt. Christopher Windless, Sgt. Zachery Smith, and Sgt. Steffen Kelly.

The third-place team, from Madigan Army Medical Center, JBLM, was 1st Lt. Daniel Stephens, Master Sgt. Andrew Ruff, Sgt. Phadrian Burnett, and Spc. Carin Hemshorn.

Additionally, Ruff earned the most points in the senior NCO category and joins the winning DDHC team that will represent RHC-P in the U.S. Army Medical Command Best Leader Competition in Hawaii next month.

IMAGE: First Lt. Samuel Joo, a medical surgical nurse with U.S. Army Medical Department Activity – Korea, assembles and performs a functions check on his M4 Carbine, as part of the Regional Health Command – Pacific best leader competition, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 16, 2021. The second full day of this four-day challenge also included land navigation exercises in addition to constructing individual fighting positions. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Richard Carlisi, I Corps Public Affairs)

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