JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
The annual Trinity Competition is a grueling four-day event to determine the division-level Best Warrior, Drill Sergeant of the Year and Best Medic.
Hosted by the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence, or AMEDDC&S HRCoE, winners represent the HRCoE in higher level competitions.
The 2019 Trinity Competition, conducted at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Camp Bullis from May 13-16, marks the second year that these rivalries were combined into a singular event with specialized sections for the three different event categories.
Sgt. 1st Class David Nagle, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Medical Professional Training Brigade, won the Best Medic portion. He will represent HRCoE at the Army Best Medic Competition planned for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Nagel was also the 2018 HRCoE Best Medic winner and placed third at the 2018 Army Best Medic Competition.
Drill Sergeant Jeffrey Lullen, Company C, 264th Medical Battalion, 32nd Medical Brigade, won the Drill Sergeant of the Year round and will represent HRCoE at the Army Drill Sergeant of the Year competition, hosted by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Aug. 25-29.
Staff Sgt. Alexander Bach, Company F, 232nd Medical Battalion, 32nd Medical Brigade, won Noncommissioned Officer Best Warrior, and Spc. Reginald Graham, Training Support Activity, Headquarter Support Company, HRCoE, won the soldier Best Warrior during this year’s match-up. Bach and Graham will compete at the TRADOC Best Warrior competition at Fort Rucker, Alabama, July 14-19, with a chance to represent TRADOC in the follow-on Army level competition.
Events like Trinity Competition provide an opportunity for Soldiers to compete against their peers in tasks and environments that are often reserved for Ssoldiers in operational units. This competition serves as a reminder that the efforts of educating young enlisted and commissioned soldiers is geared towards the end result of producing soldier-medics for the operational force.
Previously, HRCoE held three separate contests at different times. Combining the events allowed for reduced cadre, support personnel, resources and labor.
“Combining the Best Warrior, Best Medic, and Drill Sergeant of the Year Competitions into one presented some minor challenges at the micro level, but allowed a much more efficient and streamlined logistical and administrative footprint to be utilized,” said Master Sgt. Michael Kotski, the NCO in charge tasked to run the event.
Kotski said that the ability to combine the events became an essential in order to have a quality competition while accomplishing multiple high priority concurrent missions with the constraint of limited manpower and resources.
“The need to identify common themes and requirements, while designing an event which met the objectives of the three individual competitions was an invaluable training opportunity for planners at all levels,” Kotski said.
The planning, hard work and long hours paid off with an efficient bout that ran on time for all lanes and, in some cases, even ahead of schedule. The competition’s success is also attributed to the behind-the-scenes work and support from the entire JBSA community that supported HRCoE planners with manpower and equipment when needed.
Lullen, the HRCoE’s Drill Sergeant of the Year, said that attending other competitions in the past helped him better prepare for what to expect at the Trinity.
“The competition is run very well,” he said. “I always try to stay flexible and adaptive to be ready for what they are going to throw at you.”
Individually, these events are difficult, together they are even more daunting. Nagle, the HRCoE’s Best Medic said that while it feels really good to win, he is happy that all of his hard work and preparation paid off.
“This is something that I train for regularly so that I’m always ready,” Nagle said. For the upcoming Army-level event, he plans to train even harder on his stamina and endurance.
The combination and sequencing of the competition events served to stress the competitors, both mentally and physically, to help identify the most prepared all around soldiers. Those who have competed in these type of events before know they can be challenging, yet once they are in the middle of the competition, the hard reality of the true strength that is required will generally hit them.
“I think it’s really testing the rigor of all of the soldiers, allowing you to genuinely test your mettle,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Gadden, Company B, 188th Medical Battalion, Medical Professional Training Brigade, who came up just short for Best Warrior. “You see what you’re really made off.”
Though this was his first time competing in the Trinity, he is a cross fit athlete who thought he had a good idea of how to pace himself. His message to soldiers considering signing up to compete is to give it everything you have, test yourself and push yourself past your known limits.
Graham, who earned the Best Warrior soldier title this year echoed those sentiments and indicated how close the competition was.
“It’s been pretty tough for all of us. It definitely brings out the best in people,” Graham said. “This is a great way to make your unit proud.”
This was the third year competing for Sgt. Moises Ortiz, Training Support Activity, Headquarters Support Company, HRCoE.
“The competitive spirit is what brought me to compete again, I really enjoy it. I want to compete for as long as I can,” Ortiz said.
The Trinity Competition also brought out the best in the soldiers as a group. Most of the 11 competitors did not know each other before the event, working at different units with different medical specialties, and at different points in their Army careers.
As the week progressed, they overcame challenges together. The combined sense of teamwork became obvious as they joked, and sometimes complained to each other.
“The comraderie was good to see,” Bach said. “We all ended up coming together as a group and that was great.”
The combination of physical and mental resiliency will serve not only the winners at their respective next level competitions, but also allow all candidates to bring their individual triumphs and challenges forth when training their soldiers, forging a stronger all around force in the future.
When asked their advice for soldiers who may hesitate to do the competition, most of this year’s competitors agreed that not everyone will win the competition, but all who compete will gain way more than they will lose.
“The worst thing that could happen is you’ll learn your limitations, and that’s a good thing,” Bradley said. “We can only push our limits by learning them. I wish I’d done this a couple of years ago.”