HONOLULU (May 17, 2018) - A Regional Health Command-Pacific (RHC-P) Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer take home the title of 2018 RHC-P Best Warrior.

Sgt. Noel Gonzalez, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) and Spc. Jan Leo Ras, Dental Health Command-Pacific are the winners of the region's premier competition, earning a designation as the command's finest Soldiers, demonstrating commitment to Army values, embodying the Warrior Ethos and representing the force of the future.

During the three-day challenge, 17 Soldiers from across the command vied for the top spot, where their knowledge, skills and abilities were tested through urban warfare simulations, formal board interviews, physical fitness challenges, written exams and warrior tasks and battle drills.

The rigorous events are designed to represent today's operating environment and to develop Soldiers to think critically in a complex and ever changing environment.

Brig. Gen. Bertram Providence, RHC-P commanding general, provided remarks during the ceremony and highlighted that competitions like Best Warrior are a reminder of how important Army Medicine's capability is to the warfighter. "With an all-time high survival rate exceeding 90 percent, the Army marches forward with the knowledge that the medic marches right alongside them," stated Providence.

The commanding general also added that, while RHC-P is an organization that consists of medical personnel, each service member must always remember that being a Soldier comes first. "When battles are waged, it is the medic that may be called upon to climb a mountain in order to render life-saving aid to wounded comrades. But we must first get to the top of that mountain...and then get back down, with patient in tow. And that takes strength - strength that was displayed among these competitors here today," he said.

Providence also encouraged the Best Warrior candidates to take their knowledge and share it with other Soldiers.

Gonzalez, who described his reaction as in shock when his name was called, says he's relieved the competition is over, but knows the work isn't done yet. "I have a big responsibility on my shoulder because I've got to represent Regional Health Command-Pacific in the next level of the competition," said Gonzalez.

The region's Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year also added his thoughts on what he'll cherish most about the competition. "The highlight was definitely the other competitors. These guys were a bunch of great people. They made it that much more bearable, especially in the toughest times with lack of sleep, long miles, hard events, but it was good stuff," Gonzalez added.

Ras, much like Gonzalez, had no idea he would take home the tile. "It took me by surprise when they called my name. I didn't think to step forward. I felt someone else might have had the edge over me the entire time so I didn't expect it at all," stated Ras.

The region's Soldier of the Year says also sid that Best Warrior prepares Soldiers for the next level. "Waking up early in the morning and pushing through until late at night, it really tests your physical and mental abilities. Over the course of three days, you've got to keep your composure. You've got to maintain your bearing," said Ras.

Reflecting back on the competition, Ras also said he's gained a new perspective of Soldier readiness levels across RHC-P. "I can see that Soldiers represented across RHC-P in the competition are extremely strong competitors. They are all very well trained. They put up a very tough fight. Overall, I am overjoyed to have completed the competition alongside these other warriors. I want to congratulate all of the competitors for an outstanding job," he added.

While only two Soldiers were selected, Master Sgt. Fulton Winder III, RHC-P Best Warrior Competition non-commissioned officer in charge, says he's proud of the level of Soldier readiness, grit and endurance that competitors displayed during the competition. "Every Soldier competed well and showed the tenacity to finish the events. There is no other option in war, but to win. And that's what the Soldiers did...compete to win. Because in combat, there are no trophies for second place."

The win also qualifies the RHC-P Best Warriors for the next phase of the competition at the Army Medical Command level competition in June. From there, finalists enter the Army-level competition Sept. 30 - Oct. 5 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.