FORT HOOD, Texas — Day one of the Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. U.S. Army Best Medic Competition started cold and gloomy on January 24, as combat medics from across the Army began the day with the Army Combat Fitness Test, an obstacle course and an M-4 carbine rifle range.
The competition — hosted by U.S. Army Medical Command — physically and intellectually challenges the Army's best medics across multiple days in a simulated operational environment that is demanding, continuous and realistic. Forty-four medics were paired from 22 different units to compete in 2022.
“I think it was a good combination with breaking up the ACFT in conjunction with the obstacle course,” said Sgt. Chase Rheinlander, combat medic, 1st Cavalry Division. “It was a pretty good smoker.”
Rheinlander is competing with his teammate and fellow medic, Sgt. 1st Class Dain Neininger, also from 1st Cavalry Division. “Me and my teammate here, I feel like we did pretty good,” Rheinlander said. “We gave enough effort and we still have enough stamina for the rest of the week.”
Rheinlander said he and Neininger braced for the wet weather after noticing it was pouring rain. "Just know that ... the weather always changes in Texas. Instead of ‘wax on, wax off’ it is ‘jackets on, jackets off,’" he said.
The two Soldiers have been training for months, both traveling to different courses in preparation, Rheinlander said. They held each other accountable with early morning ruck marches, ensuring their physical and mental readiness for the competition.
The 1st Cavalry Division isn’t the only team competing from the III Armored Corps. Also vying for the title of best medic are Soldiers from the 1st Medical Brigade and the 4th Infantry Division.
“It would be a huge honor to win the competition and bring it back to the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd SBCT and our squadron,” said Sgt. Ismael Marquez, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during an interview earlier this week. “The esprit de corps in our unit would continue to grow. We want our unit to be able to say we only produce 'Best Medics.' That’s the goal — to have the best medical platoon in the U.S. Army.”
The 11th iteration of the competition culminates January 28 on Fort Hood with a ceremony that recognizes the winners.