Before Competition, MRDC 'Best Squad' Gets High-Profile Send-Off
Soldiers and senior leaders from across the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command honored members of the command's Best Squad during a farewell ceremony at the Fort Detrick Auditorium on September 23. Following victories at both the MRDC and Army Futures Command levels, the five-person team will depart for Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where they'll compete against units from across the Army during the 2022 Best Squad Competition.
"I'm excited," said squad member Sgt. Jackie Payne, a medical laboratory technician at USAMRDC's U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. "We want to show that even though we work at a medical research facility, we can do the more physical work the Army requires as well."
In addition to Payne, the 2022 USAMRDC Best Squad team includes Staff Sgt. Joshua Lorber, Sgt. Marcus McCann, Sgt. Cody Sanford and Spc. Jose Gutierrez.
The team will compete against eleven other squads over the course of the week-long event, including teams from the Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Army Special Operations Command and the Army Cyber Command, among others. The competition is designed to test participating squads on their individual tactical and technical proficiencies, as well as their ability to work as a disciplined and cohesive team. The event will feature a variety of fitness and combat-related events, including the Army Combat Fitness Test, various weapons lanes, a 12-mile foot march and other individual and team-specific battle drills.
During brief remarks to the team, Brig. Gen. Tony McQueen, Commanding General of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, offered encouraging words, reminding the squad to be prepared to push their respective limits both physically and mentally while also imploring them to enjoy their time together as both Soldiers and teammates representing USAMRDC.
"There's going to be some tough moments down there at Fort Bragg, you can be sure of that," said McQueen, flanked by USAMRDC Command Sgt. Maj. Kyle Brunell, who also offered words of advice to the team. "But that's what being a Soldier is all about – pushing through the adversity and making it to the other side."
Prior to the event, 1st Sgt. Vincent Nunez, who serves as the supervisor for Lorber – who in turn is the squad's team leader – noted his excitement at watching the group compete at the highest level.
"To take these Soldiers, who have shown that they are not only technically proficient but also tactically proficient, and pit them against the entire Army – I'm extremely proud," said Nunez. "They have put in a ton of hard work."
After the event – which runs from late September to early October – is complete, the top four highest-scoring teams of the week will travel to Washington, D.C. for a board-style interview that will test their knowledge and professionalism in front of top Army leaders.
"It feels good to have this opportunity – not many people can say they've gotten the opportunity to achieve at this level," said McCann, who serves as a medical laboratory technician at USAMRIID. "I want to show people that any Soldier can achieve."