FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Army News Service) -- With only a week's notice, Sgt. Derick Bosley found out that he would be competing in a 72-hour contest to name the Army's top combat medics.

The 33-year-old Ranger paired up with Staff Sgt. Noah Mitchell, a fellow Ranger, to compete in the Army's Best Medic Competition, held in the San Antonio area. Both Mitchell's original partner and backup partner had suffered injuries before the competition began, making them unable to participate.

"I looked at him and said, 'I guess we're going into this and straight winging it," Mitchell recalled.

As Rangers continually train at a high standard, Mitchell, 26, said he had no worries about the abilities of his newest teammate.

"I expect and know what he can do because he's an NCO in Ranger regiment medicine," he said. "There's no dropping the ball because we know that's just not what we do."

And the quick change couldn't have worked any better.

With basically a second alternate as a teammate, the duo grabbed first place Friday after representing the Army Special Operations Command in the annual contest, in which expert combat medics from across the service competed against each other in several physically and mentally demanding tasks.

This year, more than 30 two-person teams vied for the competition's coveted statuette award, dedicated to Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark, the Army Medical Command's former senior enlisted leader who focused on the vital role medics play in the Army.

After battling the stifling heat and rough terrain of the Texas countryside, Mitchell and Bosley were able the claim the award.

"There was never a doubt in my mind," Bosley said. "It's either we win this, or we're coming back next year to win. It was one or the other."

That doesn't mean the contest, tailored after the Best Ranger Competition, was a walk in the park, they said.

"It was way harder than we expected," Bosley said, adding that some parts of the competition really tested their skills. "There was a lot of stiff competition, with some creative medics out there."

Sgt. Jarrod Sheets and Sgt. Matthew Evans from the 10th Mountain Division took second place in the competition, while Capt. Jeremiah Beck and Sgt. Seyoung Lee from the 2nd Infantry Division secured third.

Once those teams were honored, Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Ecker, the Army Medical Command's senior enlisted leader, addressed all of the medics during Friday's awards ceremony.

"The only certainty in war is that we will take casualties. And that's where you come in -- the combat medic," he said. "You are the front line."

In the future, he said that expert medics will be needed even more as multi-domain concepts emerge and change the battlefield.

"We're going to be fighting in the unknown," he said. "Thank God we have expert and dedicated medics such as you. That's why this is a very proud day for Army medicine."