JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
A Brooke Army Medical Center combat medic is one of 16 Soldiers competing in the U.S. Army Medical Command 2021 Best Leader Competition July 25-30, on the Island of Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Army Staff Sgt. Edward Nelan, a BAMC Soldier Recovery Unit squad leader from the Quad Cities region in Illinois, was selected to represent Regional Health Command-Central in the year’s competition.
“Staff Sgt. Nelan is living proof that Army medicine is Army strong,” said BAMC SRU Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Camacho. “He’s already proven his technical expertise providing competent and compassionate leadership to his Soldiers in recovery and their families. Now competing at the Army Medical Command Best Leader Competition, he is demonstrating his tactical craft as a Soldier.”
The Best Leader Competition is designed to promote “esprit de corps” throughout the Army while recognizing Soldiers and noncommissioned officers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values and embody the Warrior Ethos.
The competition recognizes those Soldiers demonstrating superb military bearing and communication skills, knowledge of various military subjects and the ability to perform a variety of Soldier/Warrior skills above their peers.
To earn the right to compete in the annual MEDCOM competition, the Soldiers first competed and won at the unit and Regional Health Command level.
In preparation for the competition, Nelan spent two weeks at Fort Polk, Louisiana, participating in the Expert Infantryman Badge testing lanes. This allowed him some needed hands-on experience. He also went to Fort Hood, Texas, for some additional training.
“We did obstacle courses, swimming, ruck marches, land navigation and practiced overall Soldier skills,” he said. “We even did a mock board.”
The Best Leader competition requires competitors to complete in a variety of tasks including marksmanship, land navigation, an obstacle course, combat water survival, hands-on medical tasks, and culminates in a 30-plus mile foot march.
Nelan feels he excels in land navigation and Army warrior tasks.
“My swimming during the regional competition wasn’t the best, but I’ve improved,” Nelan said. “I’m really looking forward to doing another swim event.”
“He carries our Soldier Recovery Unit’s mantra to adapt and overcome, the same spirit he charges his Soldiers in Recovery to maintain,” Camacho said. “Regardless of the rigors and challenges the competition brings, Staff Sgt. Nelan will always fight to win!”
Nelan’s advice to other Soldiers who want to excel in competitions like the Best Leader is to “work on the basics.”
“In the hospitals and clinics, it’s a lot harder to work on the basic Soldier tasks, but it’s really helped me to become a better Soldier,” he said. “I also have those skills to be able to teach others. At the end of the day, we are Soldiers first.”
Nelan said it would be “extremely cool” if he can make it to the Army-level Best Warrior Competition.
“It would be a good step in my career and a pretty big challenge, so I would wouldn’t mind having the opportunity to try,” he said.
“Staff Sgt. Nelan is the perfect combination of professional Soldier, determined athlete, and compassionate Squad Leader,” said Army Lt. Col. Sheryl Justice, BAMC SRU commander. “He goes above requirements and exceeds expectations daily to assist his Soldiers and fellow Soldier Recovery Unit teammates. We are very proud of his accomplishments to date, and look forward to how far this exceptional Soldier will go in the future.”