MRDC Best Medic Team Returns After Grueling, 'Intense' Event
The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command's participants in the 2023 CSM Jack L. Clark, Jr. U.S. Army Best Medic Competition returned to their duty stations this week following a grueling four-day competition at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Capt. Logan Hunt and Spc. Juan Garcia returned to their respective positions after pitting their combined skillsets against more than 60 other competitors from across the Army.
Running from January 23-26, the competition was billed as an expansive and immersive event featuring a wide array of high-intensity tests designed to gauge participants' physical fitness and medical care capacity in a variety of environments. Hunt and Garcia each punched their tickets to Fort Polk after placing first and second, respectively, in the USAMRDC's own Best Medic Competition held late last year.
"It was certainly intense," said Hunt, who currently serves as the aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. Tony McQueen, Commanding General of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, following the event. "My main takeaway from the whole thing is that I learned how to control my emotions. You're thrown into these situations that you're not used to, and so emotional intelligence and how you deal with those situations can be a big key to your success."
In addition to the standard Army Combat Fitness Test and Army Combat Water Survival Test, the competition included a series of medical lanes, weapons qualification events, and obstacle courses; all of which were designed to be slightly more difficult versions of the events the participants tackled during previous qualification runs at their respective commands. New challenges added specifically for the event at Fort Polk included, among others, a repelling wall, a 16-mile ruck march and a mystery event where competitors participated in a horizontal rope climb across a body of water, then crawled 100 meters across the ground, and were then tasked with sawing a railroad tie in half. The team then had to carry the wooden beam one mile to the event's finish line.
"I learned a lot about myself, about my own capabilities, what I could do – and what I need to work on," said Spc. Juan Garcia, who works in the Office of Medical Support and Oversight at MRDC's U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. "I also learned a lot about working both as a team and with a team, too."
Notably, at the conclusion of the event, Garcia was recognized by Army leadership as one of several high-performing junior enlisted Soldiers for his efforts during the competition. Garcia joined the Army in November 2020, and began his assignment at USARIEM – his first-ever duty station – in April 2021.
"The world's most powerful and lethal Army must have the world's best medical instrument of power supporting it – and that medical instrument of power is Army Medicine," said Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, Surgeon General and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Command, during the event's award ceremony on January 27. "What I observed this week is the world's best medical force – bar none."
While the MRDC team did not place amongst the event's top ten finishers, both Hunt and Garcia are eager to apply the lessons learned during the competition to their own careers moving forward.
"I look at this as a teaching tool, as a personal challenge that I can, in turn, apply to a variety of professional situations," said Hunt.