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One of the Military Blood Program’s Own Wins MEDCOM Soldier of the Year!
By Jessica Overbeck, ASBP Staff Writer
Spc. Dusty Edwards takes home Soldier of the Year honors at the U.S. Army Medical Command Soldier and Non-commissioned Officer of the Year competition held at Fort Bragg, N.C., from June 9-17, 2011.
Every year, participants in the U.S. Army Medical Command’s annual Best Warrior Competition go through a series of grueling physical and mental tasks to determine who will come out on top. This year, Spc. Dusty Edwards from the Armed Services Whole Blood Processing Laboratory—East, took home top honors.
For a week in June, several competitors arrived at Fort Bragg, N.C., to compete in what Staff Sgt. Sean McPeak, laboratory non-commissioned officer of the ASWBPL-East and Edwards’ sponsor during competitions, described as “many categories, all of which are gruesome and score rigorously.”
“Categories of the competition consisted of a physical fitness test, an M4 rifle qualification, M4 reflective fire, and advanced warrior task lanes which tested the warriors ability to enter and clear a hostile room, evaluate and evacuate a casualty, operation communication hardware, deal with incoming fire and hostile threats and secure a landing zone,” said McPeak.
In addition to several other “mystery events,” candidates were also required to take a military knowledge test—50 questions and an essay on a topic chosen by the Army Medical Command’s Sgt. Maj. Althea Dixon.
In a blog posting on June 17, 2011, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, U.S. Army Surgeon General, wrote that the competition stressed “a broad array of physical and intellectual tasks, agility of thinking and problem-solving and exposure to even joint environments (a ‘terrain walk’ on a Navy ship!).”
“I personally feel that Spc. Edwards not only deserves this achievement but has earned it,” said McPeak. “Since day one of being assigned to our organization, he has displayed exemplary attitude, intelligence, ambition and work ethic. He never falters from the mission or Army regulations.”
McPeak isn’t the only leader that speaks highly of Edwards. In fact, Sgt. 1st Class Lavon Harbor, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the ASWBPL-East, said that in his 20 years of service, he has never seen a soldier like Edwards.
“His humility, thirst for knowledge, commitment to excellence, and his determination to be the best that he can be far exceeds any soldier that I have ever been associated with. As long as soldiers like him are a part of the U.S. Army, I am confident that the nation and the Army will be in good hands,” said Harbor.
McPeak has been by Edwards’ side during training exercises and competitions, so he isn’t surprised that Edwards came out a winner. “When others are sleeping, [Edwards] is working and studying, [he is] doing whatever he can to get ahead.”
Sadly, Edwards’ father died suddenly in the midst of the competition, so he was not present to hear the announcement of his achievement or to receive his award in person. According to Schoomaker, Edwards did leave a note to be read by the chaplain and his chain of command representing him should he be the winner of the award.
“Spc. Edwards decided that his father would have wanted him to soldier on, to complete what he set out to achieve, to demonstrate that he is the best warrior-medic in Army Medicine,” said Schoomaker.
And that is exactly what he did.
According to McPeak, overcoming challenges is not something Edwards fails at. “He has overcome trials and tribulations from being away from his family, to his father passing away suddenly on day one of the competition, but still he has displayed the fortitude and courage to continue in his father’s name, and WIN,” said McPeak.
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Read the complete version of Lt. Gen. Schoomaker’s blog on the competition
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