CAMP CASEY, South Korea -- Soldiers from around the peninsula took part in the 2014 Eighth Army Best Medic Competition, June 23-26.

The winners of this year's Best Medic Competition are Staff Sgt. Raymond Hernandez and Sgt. Justin Russell from 168th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 65th Medical Brigade.

The competition, organized by 121st Combat Support Hospital, 65th Medical Brigade, was held to find out who the best medic team is in Eighth Army. The winning team will represent Eighth Army at the Army-wide Best Medic Competition, held in San Antonio in November.

Only the holders of the Combat Medical Badge or the Expert Field Medical Badge, which are highly distinguished qualifications, can participate; a total of 10 two-man teams participated, two teams of officers and 8 enlisted Soldier teams.

The medics had to complete various tasks, such as chemical decontamination, night combat medical care, and M4/M16 live fire over 72-hours.

"It's very arduous, physically demanding, and mentally challenging for the best medic teams," said Capt. Jae Chung, the assistant S-3 at 121 CSH and the lead organizer of the competition. "Candidates have to walk several miles between each station, and are getting probably two hours of sleep a day."

In contrast to last year's competition, which was held in July, Eighth Army's Best Medic Competition was held in June to avoid the monsoon season and thereby secure the safety of the participants.
"Safety is our number one concern," said Chung. "We have lane OICs and NCOICs, and we conduct sensitive items inventories and we're constantly monitoring the candidates for a safe event."

Sgt. Eric Porterfield, the battalion senior medic for 138 Field Artillery, emphasized another important aspect of the event -- teamwork.

"Everything is accomplished by working together," said Porterfield. "That is just the nature of being in the United States Army. Without each other, we can't move a casualty. We can't shoot back and suppress enemy fire. You have to work together to accomplish the mission."

The competition was also an opportunity for the medics to learn about themselves.

"You really get to know yourself and push your self past your comfort zone," said Porterfield. "I've learned that I can push through a lot more pain than I thought."