JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Two Soldiers assigned to Regional Health Command-Pacific units were announced as the winners of the region’s 2021 Best Medic Competition here, Nov. 2.
To compete for the Best Medic title, every Soldier taking part must hold either the Combat Medic Badge or the Expert Field Medical Badge.
Master Sgt. William Booth, a combat medic assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, and Sgt. 1st Class Scott Samson, a combat medic assigned to U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Alaska, we chosen as the region’s best medics after two days of competition.
“It feels great,” Booth, a Portland, Oregon native, said of his win. “It’s a good competition; I’m glad to bring it home to Tripler, and hopefully myself and Sgt. Samson can bring it home for the region as well.”
Five Soldiers, some coming from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii, took part in the contest, which kicked off at 5:00 a.m., Nov. 1, with the Army Combat Fitness Test.
For the uninitiated, the ACFT is the Army’s newest way to judge the fitness of its Soldiers. The test is made up of six events: three-repetition deadlift of a weight bar; standing power throw of a 10-pound medicine ball; hand-release pushups; sprint, drag and carry featuring 40-pound kettle bells and a 90-pound sled; leg tuck or planks; and finishes with a 2-mile run.
While the bulk of the events took place in a well-lit building, the 2-mile run was conducted in the damp predawn darkness.
In addition to the ACFT, the competitors also faced a panel consisting of the region’s sergeants major, who grilled the medics for up to 45 minutes apiece, asking a series of questions about medical skills, planning and operations, the sergeant major of the Army’s ‘This is My Squad’ initiative, and questions about how they’d handle certain situations and problems.
The competitors also had to write an essay proposing their solution to a tough Soldier situation – which they learned about right before the sergeants major’s board.
While some Soldiers prepare for months to get ready for competition, others may face a shorter timeline – which is why it’s so important for them to remain physically and medically ready.
That importance wasn’t lost on this year’s winners.
“I found out maybe three weeks ago or four weeks ago that I was going to compete in the [Tripler] competition,” Booth said. “That competition was very good as well. After that was complete, I came here, rested up, and let my body heal for this competition.”
Samson, the second RHC-P winner and Booth’s teammate going forward to the U.S. Army Medical Command competition, said he had about the same amount of time to get ready.
“I find out at the beginning of October,” Samson, a native of Mason, Michigan, said. “I got a call from the first sergeant saying, ‘You’re going to compete with six others’ in order to come here for the regional competition.
“It didn’t feel like long enough, but it was a decent amount of time to prepare for the one at Bassett,” he added.
Considering he was one of the two top finishers at the regional level, Samson used his preparation time to good advantage, as did his teammate, Staff Sgt. Greggory Stevers, the other competitor from MEDDAC-Alaska.
“I had about a week-and-a-half to two weeks of train-up before I came out here,” Stevers said.
“It was entertaining, it was fun, I had a good time,” Stevers, a native of Narrows, Virginia, said. “It was fun to see how everybody else competed, to see their strengths, and find what I need to work on.”
Stevers, a first-time Best Medic competitor, had some advice for Soldiers who might be thinking about taking part in similar competitions.
“Just do it,” he said. “Get out there, take a chance, train for it, and give it your best.”
The competition’s final event was a 12-mile road march in full field gear, complete with a rucksack weighing more than 40 pounds, which started at 2 a.m. on Nov. 2.
It was the road march that sealed Booth’s victory, as he completed the route with a time of 2:26:26; Samson took second place, clocking in at 2:40:46.
1st Sgt. Tiari Ventura, first sergeant of Tripler’s headquarters company, came from Hawaii with Booth to take part in the competition. Ventura said the regional competition differed somewhat from their local contest.
“We did urban orienteering and water survival in addition to the ruck,” Ventura, who hails from the North Shore of Oahu, said, also pointing out that she decided to take part in Tripler’s contest just three days before it began.
“I was like, ‘I’m not going to go to win, but I’ll go to compete and support my leadership’,” she said. “That’s why I’m here.”
Ventura did well enough in the Tripler contest that she advanced to the regional level at JBLM.
One local Soldier took part in the regional competition. Staff Sgt. Travis Snyder, a Denver, Colorado, native assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center’s emergency medicine department, was the only medic from that facility to make it to this level.
“I put my packet in and trained up for competition,” he said with a smile, “And just was told, ‘Hey, this is the next hit time for region, here’s your packing list,’ and went from there.”
Booth and Samson now form a two-person team to compete at Army MEDCOM’s Best Medic Competition, to be held at Fort Hood, Texas, in January.
With Booth in Hawaii and Samson in Alaska, won’t it be hard to get ready for the Army-level competition, where they’ll perform as a team?
Booth didn’t think so.
“We’ll have to do physical training on our own,” Booth said, “But we’ll coordinate some time together to figure out what our strengths and weaknesses are.”
Regional Health Command-Pacific, headquartered at JBLM and in Honolulu, is the most geographically-dispersed command in Army Medicine, stretching more than 5,000 miles and five time zones across the Pacific.
The command oversees Army medical treatment facilities and units in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and South Korea.