Every year Soldiers across the Army compete in a variety of competitions to test their knowledge and skills. The 44th Medical Brigade is no different, testing the Soldiers and noncommissioned officers by establishing high standards. With a competitive nature and a desire to provide the best health services support available, 44th Medical Bde. is proud to announce the Soldier and NCO of Year for the Dragon Medics.
This year’s Soldier of the year is Spc. Mitchel J. Clark from 14th Combat Support Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia. His perseverance and commitment set the bar high for all Soldiers in the brigade to emulate. The NCO of the year is Sgt. Matthew Peters from 28th Combat Support Hospital at Fort Bragg. His drive and leadership distinguished him from the ranks. These to distinguished leaders will move on to compete at XVIII Airborne Corps Soldier and NCO of the Year competition in June.
The Soldier and NCO of the Year Competition kicks off the start of all competitions for the brigade over the next several months. However, the challenge for the 44th Med. Bde. is their Soldiers come from across four different military installations to compete for the top honors in the brigade. The Soldiers come from Fort Campbell, Fort Dietrich, Fort Benning and Fort Bragg; this year there were four specialists and three NCOs competing to represent the brigade at the 18th Airborne Corps competition in June.
The competition started with a grueling physically and mentally challenging combat fitness test. Soldiers were tested over a series of exercises consisting of a sandbag toss, tire flips, agility speed drills, aid litter drag, water can carry and a 1.5-mile run for the best overall time. At the end of the 1.5-mile run, Solders tested their ability to stack seven nuts on top of each other using only a pencil while being required to hold a small clipboard steady.
Throughout the physical endurance test, Soldiers saw a series of pictures and numbers at each of the events and were required to recall the correct images and put the numbers in the correct order at the end. This tested their skills and mental ability to recall critical information when under stress. For Medical personnel, the ability to recall information is critical to ensuring world-class patient care is delivered in combat.
Soldiers zeroed and qualified on the M4 rifle before conducting a 6-mile foot march for time. Closing out day one of the competition, Soldiers conducted night land navigation. Day two of the competition challenged the Soldiers with completing 20 obstacles in the fasted time, receiving penalties for any bypassed obstacles; day land navigation; and two written exams to test their general military knowledge and map reading skills.
The final day of the competition tested Soldiers’ military bearing and appearance in the Army Service Uniform. Soldiers completed a non-standard board where they confronted a series of questions while the brigade command sergeant major challenged them with drill and ceremony commands.