Staff Sgt. Joseph Rangel and Staff Sgt. Richard Philbin from the 75th Ranger Regiment came out on top during the Army’s 2017 Best Medic Competition at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Camp Bullis, Texas, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.
During the 72-hour gauntlet, 56 Army medics competed as two-man teams in simulated tactical scenarios, according to a release from U.S. Army Medical Command.
The competition is open to all soldiers who have earned the Expert Field Medical Badge or the Combat Medical Badge. Medics are tested on pistol and rifle marksmanship, land navigation and hands-on medical tasks over a 30-mile course, according to the release.
“We were definitely surprised, after getting the marksmanship award, I figured that would be our line, I definitely didn’t expect [to win] but I know Joe and I tried hard and worked well as a team,” Philbin said.
While Rangel and Philbin had never entered this competition before, their comrades who had done similar endurance events at the U.S. Army Best Ranger Competition had given them advice on how to proceed, Rangel said.
“They had hints for us, like stretch out between each event, make sure we are constantly hydrating, and to make sure we are not always trying to push ourselves to the extreme,” Rangel said. “Don’t try and get first place in everything but just try and land among the top five so we have some gas for the next activity or lane.”
Leading up to the competition, the natural deployment cycle of the 75th Ranger Regiment kept the duo as prepared as they needed to be.
“We practice our normal SOPs and protocols throughout the training cycle. We went at it with what we had,” Rangel said.
Speaking to the competitors after the event, Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald C. Ecker of U.S. Army Medical Command explained the importance of the event was more than just bragging rights.
“This [competition] was a test to prepare you for the ultimate test on the battlefield ― go back to your units and share your excellence,” Ecker said.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.