FORT BLISS, Texas - In the life of a Soldier, 72 hours is not much time. But, during a punishing competition, where Soldiers are pushed to their max, 72 hours is a lifetime.
Twenty-two Soldiers from around Fort Bliss, making up 11 teams, competed in the Best Medic competition, hosted by 501st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division during October.
Sgt. Brian Guillen and Sgt. Zane Beach, both medics with 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, carry a litter during the buddy run portion of the Best Medic competition at Fort Bliss, Oct. 15, 2014. Guillen and Beach took first place in the competition and will compete at Fort Sam Houston. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus)
“The hardest part of the competition was the exhaustion and lack of sleep, and still having to put out 100 percent at each physically-demanding event,” said Sgt. Brian Guillen, a combat medic in 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division and native of Burbank, California.
Guillen, alongside his partner in the competition, Sgt. Zane Beach, won first place in the competition, edging out all of the best combat medics at Fort Bliss who they were competing against.
The Best Medic competition comprised of nine events, including the basics, like a written test, physical fitness test, and a day and night land navigation course. It also included more taxing events, such as a stress shoot, a three-mile buddy run, a medic stakes lane, and ending in a 12-mile ruck march - in full combat gear.
Through all the events, other Soldiers agreed that the most difficult part was not competing, it was the sheer exhaustion from the seemingly never-ending tasks.
“The hardest part was the general fatigue,” said Spc. George Myers, a combat medic in 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and a native of Portland, Oregon. “We haven't had a lot of sleep, we haven't had a lot of downtime in general, so it's difficult staying motivated and making sure fatigue doesn't set in and we don't get sloppy.”
Despite their tiredness, the Soldiers pushed through each event.
Myers and his teammate, Sgt. James Wilcox, also a combat medic in 1-36 IN, and a native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, dominated the buddy run and the ruck march.
“Those were both physically demanding,” said Wilcox. "The buddy run did stuff that we don't normally do, but we did the best on it.”
Myers and Wilcox completed the buddy run several minutes ahead of the next closest team. They fared similar in the ruck march. While Myers took first and Wilcox took third, they had the overall fastest team time.
Guillen and his unit had just recently returned from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and had little notice to prepare for the competition.
Guillen received a text from his teammate asking if he wanted to compete in the competition, and just days later, they had begun. Other teams, such as Myers and Wilcox, trained for weeks preparing for it, pushing each other through road marches and additional physical training.
The competition could not have happened without the support of Charlie Company, 501st BSB, 1/1 AD ‘s medical company, who organized the entire event.
Capt. Aaron Roberts and 1st Sgt. David Barakat, the company commander and first sergeant of Charlie Company, 501st BSB, started planning the event several months ago, given only a loose format to follow, allowing them to create many of the lanes themselves.
But, not every medic was qualified to compete in the event.
“Soldiers have to have either an Expert Field Medical Badge or a Combat Medical Badge in order to be eligible for this competition,” said Roberts. “Unfortunately, that leaves out a lot of our high-quality medics who are physically fit, motivated, and want to participate. But we have to have that differentiating criteria.”
While each Soldier had their own favorite stake in the competition, they all felt one element was the most important to their success - teamwork.
“My teammate and I really respect each other,” said Wilcox. “We have been together for a while, we deployed together, so we have a camaraderie that helped strengthen both of us."
Guillen agreed in regards to his team, saying that together, they pushed each other and were there to validate their team member.
Though the competition is over at Fort Bliss, it has not ended for Guillen and Beach. As the winners of this level, they will compete in the Army-wide Best Medic Competition at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in the coming months.
Guillen and Beach will not only represent 4/1 AD, they will represent all Iron Soldiers of the 1st Armored Division.
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus
Provided through DVIDS
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