FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – While much of the installation was closed due to ice and snow, 26 Soldiers from Dental Health Command-Atlantic and Public Health Command-Atlantic pressed on in their quest to earn the title Best Warrior in a competition hosted on Fort Campbell, Kentucky Feb. 14 to 18.
“Due to the winter weather, the competition certainly tested our ability to react and adapt to continuously changing circumstances,” said Capt. Edward Rynkowsky, an Army dentist assigned at Dental Health Activity Fort Gordon, Georgia who was named DHC-A Best Warrior in the officer category.
Fort Campbell experienced two winter storms with below freezing temperatures, ice, sleet and snow during the course of the competition closing non-essential services on post for two days. Best Warrior competitors operating in the wooded training areas with shelter and hot water on Camp Hinch, chose to Soldier on.
“In a deployed environment you never know what may happen or what the weather may bring so this was a growing opportunity for us as we adjusted,” said Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Richardson, Fort Campbell DENTAC first sergeant. His unit worked with DHC-A and PHC-A leadership to organize the event. “We had competitors travel from far off places so we didn’t want to cancel the competition. We shuffled some events around and as the weather got better we went back and completed other events that had to be postponed. It was great training for us, too.”
In the NCO and Soldier category, Sgt. Quoc Anh Le, assigned to the Army Dental Lab, Fort Gordon and Spc. Philando Samuels assigned with Rynkowsky at DHA Fort Gordon were named Dental Health Command-Atlantic Best Warriors.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Pitts, assigned to Public Health Activity Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Spc. Daniel Schlumbohn, assigned to Public Health Activity Fort Belvoir, Virginia were named Army Public Health Command-Atlantic Best Warriors.
“I am thankful that I was able to build relationships and compete with other very professional Soldiers, NCOs (non-commissioned officers), and officers. These opportunities don't come by often,” said Rynkowsky. “It was an honor to represent the Fort Gordon DENTAC in the DHC-A Best Warrior Competition.”
The Best Warrior Competition recognizes Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to Army values, embody the warrior ethos and represent the future of the force. Soldiers are tested on both technical and tactical skills. Dental Health Activity Fort Campbell Soldiers planned and hosted the six-day competition.
“We worked with 101st Airborne Division to plan and put on a successful event here on Fort Campbell, but our entire schedule got bumped because of the weather,” said Richardson.
Undaunted, Richardson and his fellow competition planners met each morning in the installation training area and evaluated which events for the day could proceed to keep the competition going.
Safety was always first as event organizers made adjustments for weather, while also implementing COVID mitigation efforts. By the end of the competition, participants completed nearly all the scheduled events which included day and night land navigation, obstacle course and run, water survival, medical lanes, oral board and written test.
“The competition was great given the extreme adverse weather conditions. I am more pleased at the performance and dedication that the cadre and support members showed throughout the competition to still provide the candidates with real world tactical scenarios. The overall motivation and dedication it took for them to provide us with that, is beyond measurable. It increased the candidates’ morale and motivation throughout the lanes knowing they were hard at work to provide us with great events,” said Pitts.
Their selections advance these Soldiers to the Regional Health Command-Atlantic Best Warrior Competition later this year, where dental and public health Soldiers compete alongside medical treatment facility Soldiers from throughout the region for the title of RHC-A Best Warrior.
PHC-A and DHC-A each fall under RHC-A, which is responsible for the medical readiness of the force and healthcare delivery at all Army medical facilities east of the Mississippi River, including Puerto Rico.
Public Health Command-Atlantic monitors deployment and environmental health, emergency preparedness and response, food and drinking water protection, animal medicine and health surveillance and evaluation.