PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (DVIDS / Staff Sgt. Eric W. Jones) â?? Spc. Daren Thompson, a healthcare specialist from 7226 Medical Support Unit, Fort Jackson, S.C., is competing in the Army Reserve Medical Commandâ??s prestigious Best Warrior Competition here and Camp Blanding, Fla., March 22-30, 2013. He is one of only 10 soldiers of the 9,500-strong AR-MEDCOM warriors to be selected to compete for this honor.
Thompson, 22, a native of Columbia, S.C., is representing Southeast Medical Area Readiness Group from Nashville, Tenn., besting more than a thousand soldiers in that command to advance to the next level.
â??This competition means being the most proficient out of my peer group,â?? said Thompson, who has been in the Army Reserve for more than four years.
Currently, as a citizen-soldier, he resides in Rock Hill, S.C., works as an associate with Panera Bread, and is pursuing a bachelorâ??s degree in history with a minor in secondary education at the Winthrop University.
Thompson, a 2008 Spring Valley High School graduate, stated that being a citizen-soldier means having a dual role in the community, and being versatile and meeting demands in the two different settings, both civilian and military.
The Best Warrior Competition was developed by retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack Tilley in 2002 as a test of a soldierâ??s physical endurance, military knowledge, current events, and mental perseverance. The competition is an opportunity for warriors to highlight their military skills in a competitive environment and measures how well they perform under stress.
The grueling five-day competition taxes each soldier mentally and physically. It includes a timed written exam, physical fitness test, and a number of mentally and physically challenging exercises including a 10 km road march, M4 rifle qualification, urban warfare orienteering, an Army combatives tournament and a mystery event.
Thompson began the competition at unit level, rising to command level and continuing on to higher command intended to select the noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier of the Year for AR-MEDCOM. The winner advances to train and prepare through U.S. Army Reserve Command, and upon winning will go on to represent the Army Reserve Command and the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition to be held later in the year.
The Army Reserve Medical Command has been represented at the top Army event in 2009 by Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler, a medical logistics noncommissioned officer from Three Forks, Mont., at the Department of the Army-level competition.