With only a week’s notice, Sgt. Derick Bosley found out that he would be competing in a 72-hour contest to name the Army’s top combat medics.
The 33-year-old Ranger paired up with Staff Sgt. Noah Mitchell, a fellow Ranger, to compete in the Army’s Best Medic Competition, held in the San Antonio area. Both Mitchell’s original partner and backup partner had suffered injuries before the competition began, making them unable to participate.
“I looked at him and said, ‘I guess we’re going into this and straight winging it,” Mitchell recalled.
As Rangers continually train at a high standard, Mitchell, 26, said he had no worries about the abilities of his newest teammate.
“I expect and know what he can do because he’s an NCO in Ranger regiment medicine,” he said. “There’s no dropping the ball because we know that’s just not what we do.”
And the quick change couldn’t have worked any better.
With basically a second alternate as a teammate, the duo grabbed first place Friday after representing the Army Special Operations Command in the annual contest, in which expert combat medics from across the service competed against each other in several physically and mentally demanding tasks.
This year, 42 two-person teams vied for the competition’s coveted statuette award, dedicated to Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark, the Army Medical Command’s former senior enlisted leader who focused on the vital role medics play in the Army.
After battling the stifling heat and rough terrain of the Texas countryside, Mitchell and Bosley were able the claim the award.
“There was never a doubt in my mind,” Bosley said. “It’s either we win this, or we’re coming back next year to win. It was one or the other.”
That doesn’t mean the contest, tailored after the Best Ranger Competition, was a walk in the park, they said.
“It was way harder than we expected,” Bosley said, adding that some parts of the competition really tested their skills. “There was a lot of stiff competition, with some creative medics out there.”
Sgt. Jarrod Sheets and Sgt. Matthew Evans from the 10th Mountain Division took second place in the competition, while Capt. Jeremiah Beck and Sgt. Seyoung Lee from the 2nd Infantry Division secured third.
Once those teams were honored, Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Ecker, the Army Medical Command’s senior enlisted leader, addressed all of the medics during Friday’s awards ceremony.
“The only certainty in war is that we will take casualties. And that’s where you come in — the combat medic,” he said. “You are the front line.”
In the future, he said that expert medics will be needed even more as multi-domain concepts emerge and change the battlefield.
“We’re going to be fighting in the unknown,” he said. “Thank God we have expert and dedicated medics such as you. That’s why this is a very proud day for Army medicine.”
Two medics representing the U.S. Army Special Operations Command were named the Army’s best medics after a grueling 72-hour competition at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Camp Bullis, Texas.
Staff Sgt. Noah Mitchell and Sgt. Derick Bosley from the 75th Ranger Regiment, representing the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, were named the winners of the Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. Best Medic Competition during a ceremony Friday at the Army Medical Department Center and School at Fort Sam Houston. Both Mitchell and Bosley are stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Second place went to Sgt. Matthew Evans and Sgt. Jarrod Sheets from the 10th Mountain Division, and third place went to Cpt. Jeremiah Beck and Sgt. Seyoung Lee from the 2nd Infantry Division. Awards were also presented for the top performing teams in different categories, including the best overall physical fitness score, medical skills score and marksmanship score.
The competition, hosted by Army Medical Command and conducted by AMEDDC&S, is designed to test Soldiers’ tactical medical proficiency, teamwork and leadership skills. The competing teams were graded in the areas of physical fitness – in addition to PT and combat water survival tests, they were required to walk up to 30 miles throughout the competition – tactical pistol and rifle marksmanship, land navigation and overall knowledge of medical, technical and tactical proficiencies.
Wesley P. Elliot of Army Medicine contributed to this report. Header image courtesy of AMEDDC&S.
After four days of grueling physical, mental and emotional challenges that included a 12-mile ruck march followed by a written exam, reacting to man-to-man contact in the midst of a near-riot, evacuating a casualty while wearing the most restrictive chemical-protection gear and appearing before a board that included the sergeant major of the Army, two competitors outshone the rest at the 2014 U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort Lee, Va.: Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Carpenter, the 2014 U.S. Army NCO of the Year, and Spc. Thomas Boyd, the 2014 U.S. Army Soldier of the Year.
Carpenter, an 18C Special Forces engineer sergeant with the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colo., represented U.S. Army Special Operations Command and ended the competition with the highest score among the 14 NCO competitors. Boyd, a 35P cryptologic linguist with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, represented U.S. Army Pacific and also bested 13 other Soldier competitors.
“It was kind of overwhelming to realize that, essentially since I started competing in April, it has all come to this point,” Carpenter said. “I’ve done three competitions to get to this one, and now that the final one is over, and to realize I’ve won, it’s pretty amazing”
“It’s a great relief to win, but it wasn’t easy,” Boyd said. “The competition was difficult and the other competitors were tough.”
An eventful last day
The winners were announced at an awards banquet Thursday evening that followed the last day of competition. Swapping what they did on Wednesday, the Soldier of the Year competitors made their board appearances as their NCO of the Year counterparts faced a handful of mystery events: four physical brain teasers at the Leadership Reaction Course, land navigation, inspecting Soldier uniforms and assembling weapons.
As the NCOs worked to figure out the Leadership Reaction Course’s puzzlers, they were visited by Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the chief of staff of the Army; retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, who was awarded the Medal of Honor last month and who spoke at the awards dinner later that night; as well as other dignitaries curious how the Army’s best were faring in the Army’s pinnacle competition. They found NCOs leading fire teams of three Soldiers through tasks that married brains and brawn.
“The way we put them together, competitors said it was in ways they’d never seen before,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Morris, the NCO in charge of the team organizing the competition at Fort Lee. “I think we put together an event that was original, creative and innovative, and forced competitors to be adaptable.”
Carpenter had no problem maneuvering his Soldiers through each obstacle.
“I just remembered back to when I actually worked with privates and I had privates as subordinates,” he said. “Young Soldiers in the Army — I don’t know if it’s fear or just lack of initiative — but a lot of times, it takes clear, concise and correct direction to get them to do what they need to do. So it came down to me realizing that I had to tell them exactly what I wanted them to do. If you tell them correctly, they’ll learn from that.”
Afterward, the NCOs ventured into Fort Lee’s woods without their customary electronic aids during the land navigation event.
“We’ve relied on GPS technology — whether that’s a mobile phone, Blue Force Tracker, or some of the other stuff we have — and we’ve probably relied on it a little bit too much,” Morris said. “It’s been a while since we’ve sat down with a map, protractor and compass, and done land nav old-school style. Batteries fail, satellites go down and if you don’t keep yourself up-to-date on the basics, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”
Tasked with locating four points in three hours, the competitors had to traverse swamps, thick brush and downed trees. But compared to what they had to endure on Tuesday — eight events spread out over a 12-mile course — the land nav event was downright peaceful, Carpenter said.
“It was nice to get out there and just go for a stroll through the woods,” he said.
Boyd agreed, recalling the more difficult moments of the week.
“It was very intense physically and a little bit emotionally. It required a lot of mental strength to get through it. I’m used to working in an office, so having to run around doing ruck marches in between events, then completing tasks was intense. We did a lot of physical exercise, then we had to do complex tasks that required thinking clearly, though you’re completely exhausted.”
Thursday afternoon, the NCO competitors encountered four Soldiers in various Army uniforms, each with up to five deficiencies, said Sgt. 1st Class Elita Haupt, NCOIC of the event.
“We heard from the Soldier competitors yesterday that they really liked the uniform inspection event,” she said. “They liked having a real Soldier in front of them and being able to look at the complete picture — hairstyles, fingernails, makeup. In the course of a regular day being a leader, this is what they’d see in the field or at home.”
To ensure competitors were up-to-date on their doctrine, they included deficiencies based on uniform regulations that aren’t even a month old, Haupt said.
“The main thing is staying proficient in the changes in regulations,” she said. “We just had changes on Sept. 15, and we made sure to include those.”
The event didn’t faze Carpenter, who said he’s been studying for months all the doctrine and regulations he expected would be covered during the competition.
“You learn from your mistakes in previous competitions and apply them to the next competition, hoping you’ll do better, because as the competitions progress, each one gets tougher,” he said. “At this level, you have to be your best in order to beat the best.”
NCOs ended the day in front of a table filled with various weapons parts, tasked with assembling and performing a function check with an M-9 semiautomatic pistol, M-4 carbine, M-249 squad automatic weapon and M-240B machine gun. Though he rarely trains with any of them, Boyd said he practiced with each before the final competition.
“The Army focuses on the total Soldier concept. To win the competition you have to embody that,” Boyd said. “Though you may have your individual strengths, unless you work on everything, you’re not going to be successful. So being a well-rounded Soldier is the key, and that’s what my training was focused on — all the things I don’t normally do, so I could cover those gaps.”
A favorite ‘last time’
At the award banquet, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III grew wistful as he shared that the competition would be his last before his retirement in January.
“As you get close to retirement, there’s a series of ‘last times.’ But for me, this is one of those things that, as sergeant major of the Army, I will miss the most,” Chandler said. “That’s because it has to do with what we do as noncommissioned officers and leaders every day: being with Soldiers, training Soldiers, recognizing excellence, and helping those who may not be achieving the standard.”
Though the England-born Boyd has a master’s degree from King’s College London, he said he still learned much during the competition.
“I’ve learned so much here about effective leadership,” he said. “That’s the key thing I want to bring back and apply at my unit to help Soldiers under my charge.”
And though he was just named the Army’s best Soldier, Boyd said the title comes with an important qualification.
“It’s a great accomplishment. But I’m very much aware of all the Soldiers who couldn’t compete because they’re currently deployed or working on missions that they couldn’t be released from because their work is too important,” he said. “It’s great to win this, but I know there are other Soldiers out there who could do even better than me.”
Carpenter said he appreciated the opportunity to compete alongside the best of each command from across the Army.
“I liked being able to talk to to the other competitors,” he said. “You may be in the Army for a long time and not realize what other Soldiers do. So it’s good to be able to put a face and name behind each command and what others do. That interaction makes you even more knowledgeable. There are things I learned from other competitors in this competition that I really had no idea about. Now I can take that back, and if I have a problem [in those fields], I have contacts now — ‘Remember me from the competition? I need some help with this.’ Together we’ll accomplish the mission.”
Also placing high in the competition were the following runners-up:
1st Runner-up NCO of the Year: Staff Sgt. Adam White, an 11B infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, who represented U.S. Army Pacific.
1st Runner-up Soldier of the Year: Spc. Ryan Montgomery, an 11B infantryman with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Arkansas National Guard, at Newport, Ark., who represented the National Guard Bureau.
2nd Runner-up NCO of the Year: Sgt. 1st Class David Smith, a 19K armor crewman with 1st Brigade, U.S. Army Cadet Command, who teaches ROTC classes at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Ga., and who represented U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
2nd Runner-up Soldier of the Year: Spc. Chase Teats, a 25S satellite systems operator/maintainer with B Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, at Fort Meade, Md., who represented U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.
By ANDREW TATE,
U.S. Army Special Operations Command
A Soldier with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command was awarded the Soldier’s Medal on Feb. 13 for saving the life of a civilian in Spring Lake, N.C., by pulling her from the inside of her vehicle after she’d been in an accident that left her unconscious.
Staff Sgt. Tyrone A. Mitchell of the 8th Military Information Support Battalion received the Soldier’s Medal during a ceremony at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C.. Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, the commander of USASOC, presented the award.
Mitchell earned the medal for his actions May 20, 2012, when, while heading to the store in Spring Lake, N.C., he saw an overturned vehicle on the side of the road. He pulled off the road and went to assess the situation. He noticed that the driver of the car was unconscious and that there was a haze in the car.
Not knowing if the smoke was from a fire or just the remnants of debris from the airbag being deployed, he told a passerby to phone in for help and rushed to the car. With no regard for his own life, he broke the rear glass of the car and climbed in and pulled the driver out to safety. By the time he got her out, emergency personal arrived. The driver survived the accident. During the rescue, Mitchell received several lacerations and abrasions.
Mitchell was humbled by the award and said what he did was what anybody would have done in the same situation.
“I don’t think you really think about it that much when you see a situation and you know that someone else needs help,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t think about it; I just reacted.
“At the end of the day, any service member, if they were in the same situation, would’ve done the exact same thing,” he added. “You feel as if you’re a public servant; you serve the people of the United States. If you see someone in trouble, either in uniform or out of uniform, you feel that you have to try to do something to help them or keep them out of harm’s way.”
Cleveland gave praise to Mitchell’s actions and said that his heroic deed embodies what the Army is all about.
“You may be called upon to do actions that may be seen by others as brave, as heroic,” he said. “It is part of the organization that we joined. It is a part of the ethos of the community that we are part of.”
Mitchell’s supervisor, Capt. Nicholas Ennis, said that what he did was second nature to Mitchell.
“He just shrugged his shoulders and did what he had to do,” Ennis said.
“That speaks volumes to his character and his humility,”Ennis said. “He is everything that’s right with the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, everything that is right with the Army. He is everything that’s right as being a human being. He is one of the most phenomenal NCOs I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”
The Soldier’s Medal was introduced in 1926. The medal is awarded to any person of the armed forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. It is the highest honor a Soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat situation.
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