LANDSTUHL, Germany - Soldiers from across Europe competed to earn the title of Best Warrior during Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Best Warrior Competition, July 7-8.
The competition challenged Soldiers from across Germany, Belgium and Italy, physically, emotionally and spiritually as they were tested on various tasks and skills including Army Warrior Tasks, medical knowledge and prolonged field care, stress shoot, military Drill and ceremony, ruck marches, Land navigation, combat lifesaving under pressure, combat water survival, and written and oral examinations.
Winning the title of Best Warrior for the Soldier category was U.S. Army Spc. Jesse Arellano, patient administration specialist, Patient Administration Division, U.S. Army Health Clinic Baumholder. U.S. Army Sgt. Colten Herrera, healthcare specialist, Primary Care Clinic, U.S. Army Health Clinic Wiesbaden, was the winner in the noncommissioned officer category.
“Being physically fit and mentally ready is our whole focus as Soldiers. It is our job to be ready for wherever the next global conflict might be,” said Herrera.
Herrera, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, says he was volunteered by his unit to participate. Reflecting on the competition, Herrera states he encourages all Soldiers to participate in the competition for the challenge and experience.
“I bonded with other competitors, we became a very tightknit family in the course of a couple days,” explains Herrera.
“[Top medical leaders] in the Army have said, ‘Army Medicine is Army Strong,’ it’s not just a saying, it’s a culture and a mindset that permeates from the three-star general down to the private,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Fergus Joseph, command sergeant major, LRMC. “What I saw over the past few days was Soldiers whose limits were tested, who didn’t know how much gas they had in their tanks.”
Best warrior competitions are held annually at many units across the Army, with top finalists pitted against one another at the U.S. Army level. According to the Army, the Best Warrior Competition recognizes Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values, embody the Warrior Ethos and represent the force of the future.
“It was a good test of our intestinal fortitude and general Soldier skills,” explains U.S. Army Sgt. Megan Hataway, an orthopedic specialist and noncommissioned officer in charge, Orthopedics and Dermatology Clinic, U.S. Army Health Clinic Vicenza. “This competition showed me some areas of strengths and weaknesses I didn’t realize I had. Definitely got in a good workout.”
Hataway, the only female Soldier in the competition, states competitions like this are a reminder of what the Army asks for from all Soldiers, not just males.
“For me, we all wear green and bleed red. It is important for ladies in the Army to recognize that we need to be training to be just as physically and mentally tough as the men,” said Hataway, a native of Severn, Maryland. “I think it is very important for more women to compete and challenge themselves in competitions like this. Women bring different mindsets and thought processes to the military which is great; it ultimately makes us a more lethal force.”
Although she didn’t walk away with top honors, Hataway was influenced by the experience and plans to take on other physically challenging opportunities throughout her military career.
“What impressed me the most during the competition was, despite this being a competition, when you were out there in the thick in the battle, in the heat of the event, you still cheered on your competitor, your teammates,” said U.S. Army Col. Andrew Landers, commander, LRMC. “That’s what it means to be a Soldier; (not only do) we want to be the best we can be, we want our teammates to be the best they can be.”
As competitors pushed, pulled and climbed to their next task, the competition, unknowingly to them, aimed to reinforce the importance of overall readiness.
“We push ourselves and we push those to our left and our right,” said Landers, discussing the Army’s Warrior ethos. “That’s what drives us as Soldiers, as Warriors, we all have a mission and we have to succeed.”
The winners will go on to compete at the Regional Health Command Europe Best Warrior Competition later this year.