By Lori Newman, Fort Sam Houston News LeaderNovember 10, 2011
CAMP BULLIS, Texas, Nov. 10, 2011 -- Sixty-two Soldiers from across the Army competed in a grueling 72-hour two-Soldier team competition at Camp Bullis Nov. 4-6 to earn the title of best medic.
The inaugural Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. Best Medic Competition was dedicated to the 13th command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Medical Command.
Clark's family came from Florida to participate in the dedication ceremony and meet the competitors.
"It is appropriate that such a prestigious competition be named after Command Sergeant Major Clark. He was one of the most respected leaders and noncommissioned officers in the history of our command," said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Sandra Townsend, keynote speaker for the dedication ceremony.
"[Clark] was a mover and a shaker, known for making every place he went better. He understood the important role of medics in the Army and the trust Soldiers and leaders must have in the Army Medical Department," she said.
In the end, Sgt. 1st Class John Maitha and Staff Sgt. Christopher Whitaker, representing the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., secured the title of the Army's Best Combat Medic Team.
"We had no idea where we were place-wise, so we just kept going as hard and as fast as we could on everything," Maitha said.
The first day of the competition began with a physical fitness challenge, which included a three-mile run and pulling a tire that weighed several hundred pounds.
The obstacle course tested the team's agility and physical strength. Each team needed to complete 15 of 19 obstacles as quickly and safely as possible.
The M-9 stress shoot mimicked a combat situation where every shot counts. Teams showcased their marksmanship skills, completing three separate firing engagements while evacuating a simulated casualty on a litter.
"The M-9 stress shoot was the most fun," Maitha and Whitaker said.
Once the M-9 stress shoot was complete, the two-Soldier teams marched six kilometers to the next part of the competition, the M-4 stress shoot.
"We liked the night land navigation because it was challenging and it was different," Maitha said. "They filled us in on a Black Hawk helicopter heading to an unknown [helicopter landing zone] and we had to figure out where we were before we could even start the course."
The advanced land navigation course began at 11 p.m.
Teams were flown by helicopter and inserted into the rugged terrain of Camp Bullis. Once on the ground, each team had six hours to locate 12 grid coordinate locations using terrain association and topographical maps.
"The night land nav was definitely the toughest," Whitaker said.
Early the next morning, the candidates tackled the urban assault lane. Using simulated munitions similar to paint ball rounds the Soldiers had to engage the enemy while treating casualties and defending themselves.
The day combat medic lane tested the candidates' ability to perform casualty care in close quarters as well as their ability to evacuate wounded to a MEDIVAC aircraft.
The night combat medic lane tested the competitors' ability to perform medical tasks under the cover of darkness using the Tactical Simulator for Military Medicine. The teams were required to gain fire superiority, stabilize their casualty and move them from the simulator into a ground evacuation vehicle.
Mounted land navigation tested the candidates' ability to provide medical treatment while en route to the medical treatment facility.
At 5 a.m. the next morning each two-Soldier team worked together to complete a 75-question written exam designed to test their tactical and technical proficiency.
After the written exam, the Soldiers moved to the virtual convoy combat simulator. The simulator provided a 360-degree simulated battlefield allowing the candidates the opportunity to perform basic Soldier skills while mounted in a simulated environment.
This event joined teams together to compete the scenario, engaging hostile targets and calling in situational reports.
The leadership reaction course tested each team's ability to think, lead and work together to negotiate eight obstacles.
The final event was a timed 2.7-mile buddy run, testing the fortitude and endurance of the competitors. Each team had to complete the run carrying a 180-pound casualty on a litter.
Shortly after Sunday's last event, an awards ceremony was held at Camp Bullis.
Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, Army surgeon general and commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command, and the Clark family presented trophies to the winning team and recognized all the teams for their accomplishments during the 72-hour competition.
Pricilla Clark congratulated all the competitors.
"You have been tested beyond human capability and you have come through this standing and smiling," she said. "You have given us the true definition of never giving up."
Staff Sgts. Gabriel Mendoza and Gabriel Valdez, representing 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C., accumulated the second-highest points total and placed second in the competition.
Third place was secured by Spc. Allen Klingsporn and Spc. Austin Kreutzfeld from the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.