By Kelly FieldMay 13, 2014
NATICK, Mass. -- A Soldier from the U. S. Army Research institute of Environmental Medicine has been named Army Medicine's Soldier of the Year.
Spc. Travis Crook, a Biological Science Specialist with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, won the MEDCOM Best Warrior Competition that took place the first week of May.
During the weeklong competition held at Camp Bullis, Texas, Crook competed against dozens of Soldiers from around Army Medical Command in a series of challenging events meant to test their physical and mental stamina, as well as their warrior task knowledge, to earn the title 'best of the best.'
"When they called my name, I just had a big smile on my face," Crook said. "It meant so much for me to win, because it means I can do what the Army needs Soldiers to do. Competing for Best Warrior was not just a onetime event; it's a lifestyle for me. That's the profession."
Crook said the competition consisted of the Army physical fitness test, weapons qualification, warrior tasks and battle drills, mystery events, day and night land navigation, obstacle course, a written exam with essay and a board. The culminating and most challenging event, Crook said, was a 12-mile road march that had to be completed in less than three hours while he wore a 35-pound ruck sack and full battle rattle.
"I was so tired, my boots were soaked like I had walked through water, but I knew what I had to do to give me the best chance of winning," Crook said.
It is this passion for being the best that immediately resonated with Crook's leadership.
"Specialist Crook's performance throughout all the events was nothing short of amazing," said Master Sgt. Miguel Chacon, the senior enlisted leader for USARIEM. "Hearing the news, I burst into a roar of pride. This is a Soldier that went out to prove he is the best warrior, and that's something I have great pride in, knowing we as an Army have prepared this Soldier and he is ready for anything that comes his way … That's something we all should be proud of."
As for Crook, he is humble and grateful for all the support that others have given him throughout his preparation and the competition.
"There are so many people to thank from USARIEM, MRMC and ISR," Crook said. "All my mentors made sure I had every resource I needed and they were always positive, which helped me the most. They trusted me to be successful and kept reminding me that they were already so proud of me, and for that I am so thankful."
Next up for Crook is to represent MEDCOM at the Army-wide Best Warrior Competition later this year, but for now he is taking this win in stride.
"Right now it is best to recover so I can really jump in. I want to be better than before, better than those I am competing against so I can be an example to other young Soldiers," said Crook. "I want to go there and be my best, because that's what the Army expects."