The U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research hosted the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command 2012 Best Warrior of the Year competition at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation in Texas, April 1-5.
Fourteen competitors from Maryland, Massachusetts, Alabama, Texas, and Germany, Soldiers and noncommissioned officers of the year for their commands, were tested physically and mentally in several Army warrior tasks, the Army Physical Fitness Test, advanced day and night land navigation, an obstacle course, marksmanship, a combative tournament, an essay contest, and an oral board. The week's activities came to a close during an awards ceremony at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where the warriors were recognized for their efforts.
Specialist Carlos Diaz-Rivera, assigned to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research earned the title of MRMC Soldier of the Year; and Staff Sgt. Craig Wayman, from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases won the MRMC NCO of the Year title.
"We have the best Soldiers and NCOs in the MRMC here. These are amazing young men and women, and these competitions help make sure that we keep sharp between deployments," said Maj. Gen. James K. Gilman, MRMC commanding general. "They give us something to focus on. They make sure that we keep our head in the game and that we keep our training tough, which is really important for whatever the Army is going to ask us to do next year or the year after that."
During the ceremony, MRMC Command Sgt. Major Kevin Stuart also praised all of the warriors saying that they all performed well. "Any one of them could represent this command [at the U.S. Army Medical Command competition]," said Stuart. "I truly feel that the competitors that we have are going to take MEDCOM for the first time ever."
"I'm extremely excited to represent MRMC at the next level," said Wayman. He also told his competitors that it was an honor to have competed against them. "This is an incredible honor to have competed against NCOs at your caliber, and any day I would go into battle with you and serve next to you. I go on to compete at the next level for you."
Diaz-Rivera said that he learns more from his battle buddies during these competitions than anywhere else. "And that's how you develop yourself and improve yourself," he said. "I can take what I've learned back to my unit and pass it along so that they can compete and learn from the same process."
Wayman and Diaz-Rivera were presented with the Army Commendation Medal, a trophy, and several donated gifts from local businesses.
Both warriors will go on to compete at the MEDCOM competition for a chance to represent MEDCOM at the Army's annual competition.
"And regardless of whether they take it or not, it's all about training, it's all about serving our country and being ready to fight any enemy," said Stuart. "I think that if anything else, they've got that confidence and competence and certainly the conviction of the people of the United States."