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News | March 1, 2024

CRDAMC announces its 2024 Best Leader Competition winners

By Rodney Jackson, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Public Affairs

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas – Capt. Megan Hower, registered dietician, Staff Sgt. Eugene Mclaurin, licensed vocational nurse, and Spc. Emily Pacheco, behavioral health specialist, are the winners of the 2024 Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Best Leader Competition 1 March.
They will move on to compete at the Medical Readiness Command, West Best Leader Competition in May.
 “These three captains, two staff sergeants, two sergeants and six junior enlisted Soldiers all volunteered to participate in this grueling, multi-day, extremely challenging competition, and the mere fact that they have chosen to compete sets them apart form their peers automatically,” said Sgt. Maj. Marc Selby, III Armor Corps Surgeon. “It emphasizes and builds on the pride that we all share as members of our Army profession in this CRDAMC Team.”  
I know that there were moments in this competition where each one of you had to dig down deep just to move forward and find that certain part of you to continue, and it’s a testament to your ability to overcome adversity, he added.                   
The competitors endured combat water survival, physical fitness, a weapons stress shoot, an obstacle course, day and night land navigation, an 8-Mile foot march, mystery events and Army warrior tasks.
“The internal CRDAMC BLC’s whole point was to be a steppingstone for the next competition, said Mounger. “The goal was to be physically and mentally demanding, but we also know that these folks are working a day job in the hospital and are not out in the field just training every day, so we had to make sure it wasn’t overly demanding but demanding enough to know who’s prepared and ready to move on to the next echelon.”
One of the most challenging lanes that required more cadre personnel to operate was the Army Warrior Task Lane.
It consisted of tasks like, react to direct fire, move under direct fire, casualty care, in which they dawn NBC equipment, and dragged a 200 lbs. casualty to safety. 
Staff Sgt. Erika Slaughter, lab tech, and AWT noncommissioned officer in charge, CRDAMC not only coordinated the lane, but had to relocate it from one training area to another unexpectedly just before the competition started.
“We wanted to build a physical smoker, but still staying true to the tasks, so that way they know what to expect physically and they can go and study for the next level of competition,” Slaughter said. 
Putting a competition like this together was not an easy task, and doing so provides not only the competitors experience to compete at the next level, but experience to share with other Soldiers and organizations as they move around throughout their careers, according to Sgt. 1st Class Michael Mounger, operations noncommissioned officer, and BLC NCOIC. 
“Coordinating the entire event was very difficult, especially getting equipment needed that is not assigned to us from other units and coordinating hospital staff that run day to day operations within the hospital,” said Mounger.
The hospital command sergeant major echoed the same sentiment in his closing comments.
“These competitions are not easy to put on and they are resource intensive,” said Command Sgt Maj. Anthony Forker Jr., senior enlisted advisor, CRDAMC. “In this environment, in the military treatment facilities, our NCOs don’t get a chance to put on training events of this magnitude.”
“This was a truly phenomenal week,” said Forker. “We closed out today with the 137th anniversary of the Army Medical Departments enlisted corps, and now we’re ending the day with something super motivating.”
Forker challenged all the service members in the audience of the same rank as the competitors to take on the task of best leader next year.
“You are Soldiers, and you have to understand that our purpose is to go downrange and save lives, and if you not trained, you are not equipped to do that,” he added.
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