Medics Compete with Army's Best
December 21, 2007
Three medics competed with top Soldiers and noncommissioned officers from throughout the Army in the 2007 Best Warrior Competition at Fort Lee, Va. SSG Russell A. Burnham, a 68W health-care specialist at the AMEDD Center and School, and SGT Steven Rovelstad, a 68E dental technician at Tripler Army Medical Center, represented Medical Command, while SGT Jamiell E. Goforth, a 68W health-care specialist for the 404th Aviation Support Battalion, represented Forces Command.
Twenty-six competitors faced tests including a selection board of senior NCOs, M-4 rifle qualification, day and night urban warfare orientation courses, battle drills, a written exam on military topics, an essay, a physical fitness test and a mystery event.
During the battle drills, scenarios included performing a nine-line medical evacuation request and signaling a helicopter with hand and arm signals, providing security for a convoy and delivering first aid after an improvised explosive device (IED) blast, weapons maintenance, IED recognition and detection, and detaining enemy prisoners of war.
Burnham won the Soldier of the Year title in 2003 and returned this year seeking the NCO distinction.
"I don\'t think that winning in 2003 means anything - like getting a free pass this year," Burnham said. "I think it just means that you can compete at this type of level and have the drive and determination to continue competing. What it really all comes down to is showing the competitive spirit that we all have, and it's a great way to showcase the Army."
Burnham said his childhood experience in the Boy Scouts helped prepare him for success in Army competitions.
"To get promoted to each rank in the Scouts, you have to go to boards, just like I'm doing now in the Army," he said. "As an 11-year-old boy, I'd go into these rooms and stand in front of all these adult Scoutmasters. And, they ask you all kinds of questions about Scouting, and reciting the Scout oath and Scout law. And at that age, you're under a lot of pressure to ascend to the next rank. And then you attend summer camp and learn to shoot and navigate the woods with a map and compass. By far, being in the Scouts is what has set me up for success today."
Rovelstad said he joined the Army "to get started with a good set of skills" and he would like to become a warrant officer and fly helicopters.
"It's definitely intimidating, knowing all the competitors are the best the Army has to offer," he said of the competition. During three years in the Army, Goforth has supported relief operations after Hurricane Katrina and deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was the first female to become FORSCOM Soldier of the Year and the only female to reach the 2007 Army-level competition. SSG Jason R. Seifert, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) won the NCO competition, while SPC Heyz T. Seeker of the 75th Ranger Regiment won among the Soldiers.