Another Year, Another Victory as MRDC Repeats as AFC 'Best Squad' Champs
For the second year in a row, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command was named the winner of the Army Futures Command Best Squad Competition during a ceremony at AFC headquarters in Austin, Texas on May 5.
"I'm excited – I'm elated, actually," said Pfc. Rollian Morgan, a behavioral health specialist from MRDC's Aeromedical Research Laboratory, about the victory. "I feel like for once that I am actually getting the opportunity to experience doing something bigger than myself."
Other members of the winning team include Spc. Joshua Williams from MRDC's Institute of Surgical Research; Sgt. Tyler Nace from MRDC's Research Institute of Environmental Medicine; and Staff Sgt. Jesse Hylton and Spc. Ousmane Drame, both from MRDC's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Morgan, a Tennessee native who joined the Army just two years ago, was named AFC Soldier of the Year for his efforts during the event. Nace, a biological research sergeant at USARIEM, was named AFC Non-commissioned Officer of the Year. He was previously named MRDC Non-commissioned Officer of the Year following the command's own best squad competition, which was held in mid-April at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
"It's an amazing feeling to be a winner," said Drame following the event. "I'm extremely proud of myself and our team. This competition brought out the best in me, forcing me to challenge myself to get better in each event, each day."
The four-day event, held at Joint Base San Antonio Camp-Bullis, Texas, is designed to be a lengthy, grueling test of both personal and team resiliency. Over the course of the competition, Soldiers participated in a series of medical lanes, stress shoots, obstacle courses and ruck marches – each event intended to gauge their physical and mental capacity under extreme stress.
"I''m extremely proud of our Soldiers for their performance in this competition," said Brig. Gen. Tony McQueen, Commanding General of MRDC and Fort Detrick. "Events like this are important because they help build leadership skills, a capacity for self-reliance and competitiveness. I have no doubt the Soldiers who participated in this event will look back one day and remember this as an important time in their personal and professional growth."
Participating Soldiers credited the aforementioned USAMRDC Best Squad Competition with properly preparing them for the AFC event. Specifically, participants pointed to the intense physical nature of the former competition – one reliant on lengthy ruck marches and obstacle course exercises – as well as its focus on creating cohesion among competing squads as helping them identify areas in which they needed additional improvement.
"The event in Virginia definitely set us up for success," said Morgan. "It pushed us beyond our limits and gave us a challenge – so, in turn, when we went to Camp Bullis, we were overprepared."
The five-member MRDC squad bested a pair of other teams – U.S. Army North and U.S. Army South – for the title. The squad will now move forward to participate in the Army-wide best squad event, which is slated to take place in the fall.