CAMP BULLIS, TEXAS — A field of golden, waist-high grass stands still in the warm air of the quiet southern sun. The chopping hum of helicopter rotor blades can be heard in the distance beyond a tree line, as an UH-60 quickly roars overhead making a sharp turn for a gentle landing. U.S. Army medics exit the helicopter and immediately spot a simulated casualty.
Dragging it to cover to begin treating it as if it were a real-live patient, the medics officially begin the 2016 Army Best Medic Competition at Camp Bullis, Texas, Oct. 25 to 28.
During the competition, 32, two-person teams representing Army medical units from Hawaii to Italy were tested in over 20 exhausting events.
Included in the agenda were many simulated patients at any given time, with a wide range of injuries. Medics showed their skills and knowledge under stress while demonstrating physical endurance over 72 hours.
“This event highlights and showcases the professionalism and skills that our medics have,” said Master Sgt. Michael Eldred, the noncommissioned officer in charge and event planner for the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School. “It’s not to be taken lightly. It requires preparation, training, which allows medics everywhere to become inspired and set goals for themselves.”
One team in particular that has had that mentality is the team comprised of two paratrooper medics from the 82nd Airborne Division — Sgt Matthew Willich, a paratrooper assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 82nd Abn. Div. and Spc. Bradley Bynum, a paratrooper assigned to 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
“These guys have worked incredibly hard to get here,” said Staff Sgt. William Travis, team coach and the division’s medical operation NCO, assigned to HHB, 82nd Abn. Div. “They represent the pinnacle of the division’s medical capabilities. They endured a 48-hour competition from the best medics within the division and came out on top.”
Williams says the paratroopers spent endless hours running, rucking, reading manuals and training in warrior tasks at the Fort Bragg Pre-Ranger Course during recent months.
Once in the competition, the hard training paid off as the paratroopers executed every task in front of them and were able to balance off each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“After being here, it became more than a competition,” said Willich. “We got to know medics from all over (the Army), seeing how they operate, learning from them and take that back with us.”
In the end, on Oct. 28, team sponsors along with hundreds of Soldiers and Family members from within the AMEDDC&S gathered at Blesse Auditorium to congratulate Staff. Sgt. Noah Mitchell and Sgt. Derick Bosley, paratroopers assigned to the United States Special Operations Command for placing first in the ABMC.
The competition can bring personal victories, resilience, form relationships and allow Soldiers to take their shared hardships and training back to their unit.
But in the end …
“It’s not just a competition that determines who’s the fastest or the smartest,” said Eldred. “It’s an extended training event that enhances (the abilities of) 64 medics from across our force, enabling them, and making them better at what they do and that’s saving lives in the future.”