Spc. Victor Galvez and Sgt. 1st Class Ilker Irmak, both from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, were the winners of the 2016 Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Bullis, Texas May 2-16, 2016. Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb, Deputy Commanding General for Operations, U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM), and Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald C. Ecker, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Army Surgeon General and MEDCOM Command Sergeant Major, presided over the award ceremony held at the Fort Sam Houston Joint Base San Antonio Community Center. Six Soldiers and six NCOs from across MEDCOM participated in the event.

The competition physically and mentally tested Soldiers stamina, skills, and concentration. After winning their regional competitions earlier this year, the competitors arrived at Camp Bullis this past Sunday. The competition consisted of the Army physical fitness test, 12-mile road march, marksmanship qualification, day and night land navigation, warrior tasks and battle drills, written exam, written essay, and a mystery event. The mystery event this year was a combination of physical and mental exercises. Competitors completed events including a 12 minute 30 second mile and a-half run, and a 3-minute quarter-mile run with a 5-gallon water can. Additionally, Soldiers and NCOs completed 20 pull-ups in two minutes 30 seconds, 30 burpies in four minutes 30 seconds, and as many repetitions of a rope climb as they could complete in five minutes. Immediately following the physical events, each competitor took a written exam to test their cognitive abilities under stress. Finally, on Thursday, all the competitors completed an oral board composed of Command Sergeants Major and Sergeants Major from the various regions throughout MEDCOM.

When asked what he found most surprising about the event Spc. Galvez, who is from Bloomington, Calif., said it was not so much the competition, but instead how it has helped him overcome shyness. "I'm reserved, and in basic training I sat in the back and kept quiet. But participating in this competition has helped become more outgoing."

Sgt. 1st Class Irmak was amazed by the level of intensity. "Going up against Soldiers with high skills and abilities helped me to raise my performance." Irmak is originally from Kaiserslautern, Germany. He worked at Ramstein, Air Base as a local national civilian gate guard and was inspired after 9/11 to immigrate to the United States. In 2002, he became a United States citizen then joined the U.S. Army in 2004.

"This competition is about leadership, training, standards, and discipline. The Best Warrior Competition leads to excellence and hope in our future." said Command Sgt. Maj. Ecker as he addressed audience. "I'm super proud of you, as is Lt. Gen. West and our entire command."

Galvez and Irmak will represent MEDCOM at U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition on September 26 through October 3, 2016 at Fort AP Hill, Virginia.

A special shout out goes to Ernesto Rioas, Jeff Butz, Tim Vess, and Robert Dredden, assigned to the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drill staff of the Department of Health Services, for running the Warrior Tasks event during the competition.

Follow the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School (AMEDD) Facebook site for more information and visit the U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition website for the latest on this year's competition.