North Augusta Army specialist wins 'Best Warrior' competition
Spc. James R. Freitas, a combat medic with the 5010th U.S. Army Hospital at Fort Gordon, won the Army Reserve Medical Command's prestigious Best Warrior Competition held March 22 to 29 at its headquarters here and Camp Blanding, Fla.
"Completing the course was an accomplishment, the competition was very intense, so to be able to put your body and your mind what we have been through is just outstanding," said Freitas, 23. He represented the South Eastern Medical Area Readiness Support Group from Nashville, Tenn.
"It was important for me to compete, I always try to excel at whatever I do," he said.
The combat medic said the process of competing at ever-higher levels forces him to improve as a soldier and sets an example for other soldiers in his unit and in the Army Reserve."It's been kind of a life-changing," he said. "I've met all sorts of people I'd never have met otherwise."
As a citizen-soldier, Freitas said he brings the Army's values, discipline and leadership back to his civilian job and the people he meets.
A hospital nurse back home, the AR-MEDCOM Soldier of the Year said he owes the Army more than he can repay. "I got my nursing license through the Army."
With his military and civilian medical training, he said when he serves his community his time and skills are more valuable to the people he helps, such as his work as an instructor for the American Heart Association, teaching basic life support and CPR.
The grueling five-day event competition taxed all the soldiers both mentally and physically. It included a timed written exam, physical fitness test, a number of mentally and physically challenging exercises including a 10K road march, M-4 rifle qualification, M-9 pistol qualification, squad movements in an urban setting and an Army combative tournament. There were also several mystery training events that the competitors had to conquer with no forewarning.
The competition was developed by retired Sgt. Maj. Jack Tilley of the Army in 2002 as a test of a soldier's physical endurance, military knowledge, current events and mental perseverance.
The BWC is also an opportunity for warriors to highlight their military skills in a competitive environment and measures how well they perform under stress.
Freitas said he began competing at unit level, rising to command level and continuing on to higher command levels, which are designed to teach and distinguish the best in the Army Reserve Medical Command's best junior enlisted Soldier of the Year.
The Army Reserve Medical Command was represented at the top Army event in 2009 by Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler, a medical logistics NCO from Three Forks, Mont., at the Department of the Army-level competition.
There is no rest for Freitas as he advances on to train and prepare for U.S. Army Reserve Command's BWC, the winner of which represents the Army Reserve in the Army-wide competition held later in the year.
"Now, I've got to train, so I can do the best I can," he said.