By: Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard, III Corps Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas— After a long and grueling 72 hours, III Armored Corps and Fort Hood, along with U.S. Army Medical Command, announced the top three teams from the Army’s 11th Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. U.S. Army Best Medic Competition.
The winners are:
1st place: Team 15, Regional Health Command-Central, Maj. Joseph Ahlborn and Sgt. 1st Class David McAfee.
2nd place: Team 14, 75th Ranger Regiment, Staff Sgt. Shaun Shea and Sgt. Matthew Farinella.
3rd Place: Team 21,82nd Airborne Division, Staff Sgt. Brian Leddie and Spc. William Duncan.
McAfee, one half of the duo that placed first, is a native of Vidalia, Georgia, and is the non-commissioned officer in charge at Weed Army Community Hospital in Fort Irwin, California.
His partner, Ahlborn, is a Houston native, is the chief of the Department of Optometry at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.
Regional Health Command-Central commands 13 subordinate commands all over the western region of the United States which is why the team is from two separate locations.
Being geographically separate in their jobs did not stop the champions from winning the competition.
“The Army holds courses for all their training,” Ahlborn said. “So we signed up for some of the same courses and met up at those locations to train.”
When it came to physical fitness, they trained alone.
“We both were individually responsible for our physical fitness,” McAfee said. “We are both pretty passionate about it, so it wasn’t too much of an issue for us. Regional Health Command-Central put forth a great effort to get us together at multiple different classes before the competition began.”
Forty four medics paired up from 22 different Army units to compete. The annual competition is designed to challenge the Army's best medics in a multi-day, demanding, continuous, and realistic simulated operational environment.
McAfee said the competition was physically and mentally exhausting.
“They gave us a ruck march on day one,” he said. “Some really thick mud, some heavy bags, some wet clothes in it and my feet haven’t been the same since.”
The competition consisted of rigorous events, multiple long ruck marches, lanes consisting of assessing casualties, and stress shoots. The stark realistic training and competition does not stop McAfee from enjoying his job.