After a three-day Best Leader competition, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital named its Commissioned Officer, Non-Commissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year during an award ceremony at the hospital, Feb. 17.
Capt. Joshua Lockwood, a dietitian from Nutrition Care Division, Sgt. Derrick Hise, a combat medical specialist assigned to Education and Staff Development, and Sgt. Sangoh Choi, a behavioral health specialist assigned to Department of Behavioral Health, were named Commissioned Officer, NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively.
The competition is designed to promote “esprit de corps” while recognizing Soldiers who demonstrate a commitment to the Army values and embody the warrior ethos. The Best Leader competition recognizes those Soldiers demonstrating superb military bearing and communication skills, knowledge of various military subjects, and the ability to perform a variety of Soldier skills.
“This year we had nine competitors divided by officers, NCOs and junior enlisted. They have to be tactically and technically proficient and physically and mentally prepared to compete,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Santiago, BACH’s command sergeant major. “The competition is very challenging and very stressful so they have to concentrate on what they do in each event.”
Enlisted participants were previous Soldier and NCO of the Quarter winners from the past year. The competition was administered and scored by hospital NCOs who incorporated Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills like land navigation, an Army Combat Fitness Test, ruck march, marksmanship, and combatives; plus medical skills required for Soldiers in medical military career fields. Participants also completed a written exam and essay, oral board, and tested their skills in combat water survival training.
“Even though they currently serve in a hospital, our Soldiers can deploy and they never know if they are going to find themselves in a situation where they have to use these skills, so it is important that they remain proficient in the different tasks and skills they have been putting into action during this competition,” said Santiago.
The competition originated from the Soldier and NCO of the Year Competition, but with the inclusion of commissioned officers, was renamed Best Leader. Santiago said that it is important to include the junior officers because it will help them to be better leaders.
“It gave me an opportunity to do things that I’ve never done before,” said Lockwood, who participated in his first oral board. “That was definitely an eye opener and gave me further respect for what enlisted Soldiers have to do when they go up for promotion and Soldier of the Month and Quarter.”
Hise and Choi are veteran competitors, both previous participants in Soldier of the Month and Quarter boards.
“When I first got into the Army I never really wanted to do anything like this, but this organization has made me love what I do and the Army. And even if you don’t win, I would encourage every Soldier to compete in these events for the knowledge that you can get,” said Choi.
Santiago agreed and praised all the competitors.
“The competition was great. What I see this year is the camaraderie and cohesion of the competitors. They are having fun but at the same time they are training and building their skills,” he added.
Other participants were Capt. Rose Dunn, Department of Optometry; Staff Sgt. Alvin Korus, Sgt. Taylor Stumma and Cpl. Geneva Tomolac, all from Medical Laboratory; Sgt. Masroor Ali, Department of Surgery; and Spc. Emicheka Somore, Preventive Medicine.
BACH’s Best Leaders will go on to represent the hospital in the Regional Health Command-Atlantic Best Leader Competition later this year.