FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Each year, Soldiers and noncommissioned officers from the U.S. Army Dental Command compete to be named the "Best Warrior." Fort Bragg hosted this year's contest from Feb. 15 to 19, where seven Soldiers and seven NCOs representing all the regions in DENCOM fought for top honors.

The competition included a road march; a written exam; an oral board; a physical fitness test; range qualification; day and night land navigation courses; lane testing; and a mystery event, which was the air assault obstacle course.

At the end of the week, Staff Sgt. Chris J. Ciro from the Army Dental Laboratory at Fort Gordon, Ga. and Spc. Steven P. Canales from the Fort Gordon Dental Activity won the competition as the DENCOM NCO and Soldier of the year. The two will go on to compete at the next level of competition against the other winners across the U.S. Army Medical Command.

First Sgt. Brian Monroe, Fort Bragg DENTAC first sergeant, said that even though no Fort Bragg Soldiers were participating in this year 's competition, it was still an honor to be able to host the event.

"Everything went really well this year," said Monroe. "We faced a few challenges with the earthquake in Haiti tasking out some of our resources, but we were able to go ahead with everything as planned."

On Feb. 17, the Soldiers faced two extremely physical tasks. They performed a six-mile road march that morning and then had to complete lane training at the Medical Simulation Training Center. The Soldiers had to perform first aid on a dummy and carry the casualty under fire through obstacles to an evacuation point.

"The lane training was the hardest part for me," said Sgt. Scottie Bullock, from the Bavaria DENTAC in Grafenwoehr, Germany. "I'm a pretty physical person, but that dummy wears you out."
Staff Sgt. Eric Talley, one of the NCOs from Fort Bragg's DENTAC who help conduct the training, laughed at Bullock's statement.

"That dummy is 200 pounds. That's how we train here at Bragg," said Talley.

Sergeant Igor Cavalcante was participating in his second, Best Warrior Competition. He said that he was glad to have the chance to compete at Fort Bragg, even though he got stuck waist-deep in a mud hole for 30 minutes during the night land navigation course.

"Fort Bragg seems pretty cool. Fayetteville seems really military friendly and that's always nice," said Cavalcante, who was representing the Fort Eustis, Va. DENTAC.

While he didn't win, he said that he just hopes he didn't let his region down.

The MEDCOM Best Warrior Competition will be held March 13 to 20 in Hawaii. The MEDCOM winners will go on to compete at the Department of Army level later this year.