By Rodney Jackson, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center
In a test of physical and mental endurance, 18 medical leaders from the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center demonstrated their Soldier skills during the 2023 Best Leaders Competition, Feb. 17.
The winners of this competition: Capt. Michael Stangroom, physical therapist; Staff Sgt. Phillip Hubbard, radiologist specialist; and Spc. Caitlyn Rishell, nutrition specialist, will now move on to represent CRDAMC at the Medical Readiness Command, West Best Medic Squad Competition later this year.
“I wanted to ensure that this competition was at a level that challenges every competitor physically and mentally, because the winners will represent the brigade at the MRC-W competition,” stated Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Forker, senior enlisted advisor, CRDAMC. He added that at each subsequent level, the competition will become more intense and will require a more skilled and trained professional.
Only a little over two years in the Army, this was Rishell’s first competition like this.
“It was definitely mentally and physically taxing,” she said. “I think the ruck sack march really took everything I had. It was a surprise to win and I’m proud of myself.”
“There were times when I felt I didn’t want to continue, she added, “but I’m really happy that I won and it’s a good feeling.”
Throughout the three-day competition, the medics endured the Texas cold and battled through combat water survival, a stress rifle shoot, day-and-night land navigation, the Army combat fitness test, an obstacle course, urban orienteering and a ten-mile foot march, all while enduring long hours.
“The competition was grueling and certainly one of the harder things I’ve ever done physically,” Stangroom said, referring to the fast-paced, back-to-back events the Soldier medics had to navigate.
“I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked to get,” he laughed. “But you make do.
“I would definitely encourage any Soldier to compete in a competition like this,” he added. “It’s certainly physically challenging, but it’s a nice morale boost.
“I spend most of my time in an office, so any chance to get out and get some exposure to what the Soldiers are doing outside the hospital helps me in my job too,” he said. “I can understand what they go through more, and it allows me to help them stay healthier.”
Sgt. Maj. Erin Trudden, chief clinical sergeant major, was a key player in coordinating the contest. She, along with Forker observed other competitions to gain better insight on how they could make CRDAMC’s event more relevant.
Those competitions helped us understand the level of detail and intensity that our competitors would face and helped to enhance the authenticity of what a Soldier would experience in a real-world mission, Trudeen said.
“Anytime we are training, whether it is for a competition or not we are enhancing our medical and Soldier skills,” she said.
Col. Daniel Moore, commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Forker, command seargent major, CRDAMC, present Capt. Michael Stangroom, physical therapist; Staff Sgt. Phillip Hubbard, radiologist specialist; and Spc. Caitlyn Rishell, nutrition specialist, first place officer, noncommissioned officer, and enlisted winners of the CRDAMC Best Leaders Competition Feb. 17. The three winners, joined by runners up, will move on to the Medical Readiness Command, West Best Medic Squad Competition later this year. (US Army Photo by Rodney Jackson, CRDAMC Public Affairs)
Capt. Michael Stangroom, physical therapist, and Spc. Caitlyn Rishell, nutrition specialist, first place officer and enlisted winners or the CRDAMC Best Leaders Competition, prepare to navigate the urban orienteering course during the competition. Photo by Rodney Jackson, CRDAMC Public Affairs.
Spc. Caitlyn Rishell, nutrition specialist, first place enlisted winner of the CRDAMC Best Leaders Competition, prepares to tackle the combat water survival course during the competition. Photo by Rodney Jackson, CRDAMC Public Affairs.