JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
The U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence took the opportunity to reward Soldier excellence as part of their annual Army Birthday Celebration.
Winners of the MEDCoE “Best of the Best” competition were announced during an award and cake cutting ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston on the Army’s 247th Birthday June 14, 2022.
Command Sgt. Maj. Clark Charpentier, MEDCoE command sergeant major and senior enlisted advisor, provided opening remarks for the crowd of more than 200 MEDCoE Soldiers, civilians and community leaders in attendance.
“Happy Birthday, Army,” Charpentier began. “As we look back on the Army’s 247 years, there’s been a lot of history and a lot of greatness. Today, we uncover the next generation of Army warriors and winners.”
He thanked attendees for taking the time to commemorate the Army’s rich history, and the unique opportunity to celebrate Soldiers whose legacy of excellence was just beginning on the momentous occasion.
Thirteen noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted Soldiers were assessed during a week-long competition consisting of dozens of test events, with more than 100 evaluated standards, while under austere and triple-digit hot weather conditions at JBSA-Camp Bullis from June 6-9.
The challenging test lanes included the new Army Combat Fitness Test, Soldier battle tasks, squad battle tasks, weapon marksmanship, land navigation, combat runs, an obstacle course, foot marches, a tactical road march and the oral board. The events were designed to measure each competitor's knowledge, technical and tactical skills, physical endurance, mental toughness and overall combat readiness.
Test events were conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Army Futures Command, U.S. Army North, and U.S. Army South.
The competition to determine the MEDCoE Drill Sergeant of the Year and Best Warriors in the Soldier, NCO, and squad categories, culminated in an oral board in front of MEDCoE senior NCOs June 13 … just in time to present the awards the following day on the Army’s birthday.
Before the winners were revealed, competitors and ceremony attendees watched a video highlight of some of the tasks they endured throughout the contest.
“Whether they win or lose is not as important as competing because the competition will make them better Soldiers and better leaders,” Charpentier said in the video. “I am exceptionally proud of each one of these Soldiers who volunteered, stepped forward and showed that they want to be the best.”
Charpentier also explained that, for the first time in recent history, the Army will run a best squad event that offers competition between Soldiers from a variety of jobs between other unit squads in five-Soldier teams. The Best Squads are composed of a squad leader in the rank of sergeant first class or staff sergeant, a sergeant or corporal team leader, and three squad members in the rank of specialists and below.
Immediately following the video, the MEDCoE winners, who are now eligible to compete at the next higher level, were announced:
- Drill Sergeant of the Year: Staff Sgt Patrick Vela.
- Best Warrior NCO: Staff Sgt. Kyle Thompson.
- Best Warrior Soldier: Spc. Gregoire Gindrey.
The 2022 MEDCoE Best Warrior Squad Members are Squad Leader Staff Sgt. Kyle Thompson, Team Leader Sgt. Alexander Bautista, and team members Cpl. Jesse Estrada, Spc. Gregoire Gindrey, and Pvt. Sharon Sweet-Perez.
Each competitor received a command coin for excellence from Maj. Gen. Dennis LeMaster, MEDCoE commanding general. The Drill Sergeant of the Year, Best Warrior NCO, and the Best Warrior Soldier also received the Army Commendation Medal. The remaining Best Squad winners received Army Achievement Medals. All competition participants also received a certificate of achievement.
During the ceremony, select competitors further received tokens of appreciation and monetary honorariums presented separately by Marcy Carter-Lovick, representing the Daughters of the American Revolution and Daniel Mishket, representing USAA.
After the ceremony, Thompson, a 68W combat medic instructor assigned to 232d Medical Battalion said he was humbled by the honor to serve as the 2022 MEDCoE Best Warrior NCO and Best Squad Leader.
“To me that means I get a chance to train some Soldiers and go out and showcase what Army medicine can do,” Thompson said. “I am excited for the competition.”
The Army-level Best Squad Competition and Best Warrior Competition will be a single event, held in September 2022, used to select the U.S. Army Best Squad of the Year, U.S. Army NCO of the Year and the U.S. Army Soldier of the Year.
“To all of the competitors, I am so proud beyond the words that I convey,” LeMaster said. “You are setting the example for thousands. Know that the ripple effect of what you did is going to resonate for years.”
He reiterated that all Soldiers who stepped up to the challenge of the Best Warrior and Drill Sergeant of the Year Competitions exemplify the relentless commitment to upholding an “always ready” force with unsurpassed capabilities that have been the Army’s hallmark for the last 247 years.
Immediately following the presentation of awards and gifts, LeMaster introduced this year’s Army birthday video. He also led the cake-cutting portion of the ceremony, assisted by Charpentier, Pvt. Frederick Leblanc, the youngest permanent party Soldier in the command, and Florence Emery, representing the eldest Civilian teammate.
“Born on June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress established it, the Army is a year older than the Declaration of Independence and 13 years older than the U.S. Constitution,” LeMaster added.
Older than the very nation it defends, the U.S. Army has played a vital role in the history of America and the defense of her democratic values for nearly two and a half centuries.
“Our Soldiers stand ready to defend our nation against any challenge, foreign and domestic,” he said.
LeMaster explained that U.S. Army Soldiers are the best trained and most prepared in the world, making them ready to face any obstacle they may encounter, including natural disasters, public health pandemics and enemy forces who are watching to determine if U.S. Army Soldiers are worthy adversaries.
“The importance of service, the importance of readiness, and the importance of demonstrating these types of competitions that showcase the strength of our Army have incredible strategic effect and relevance,” LeMaster said.
In addition to the award and cake cutting ceremony, MEDCoE also commemorated the 247th Army Birthday and Flag Day with an early morning Army Birthday Fun Run for over 2,000 Soldiers led by LeMaster and Charpentier. They concluded the day’s events with a wreath-laying ceremony hosted by Charpentier at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in honor of the late Sergeant Major of the Army Leon Van Autreve.
For more photos of MEDCoE Army Birthday events visit the Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/medcoe/albums/72177720299816797.