FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Blanchfield Army Community Hospital recognized its top Non-Commissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year during an award ceremony at the hospital, Thursday, Jan. 16.
Sgt. Mondeka Douei, and Pfc. Austin Clayton, both assigned to the Department of Behavioral Health, were named NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively. NCO of the Year is awarded to a Soldier in paygrade E-5 and above and Soldier of the Year is awarded to a Soldier in paygrade E-4 and below.
“It came down to the last event to decide the winner,” said Command Sgt. Major Daniel Santiago, BACH’s command sergeant major. “We are proud of everything our competitors did during this competition. They pushed themselves to the limit and did not quit. They are all winners for that.”
The week-long competition administered and scored by hospital NCOs incorporated Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, including day and night land navigation, a physical fitness test, ruck march, marksmanship, and combatives; plus medical skills required for Soldiers in medical military occupational specialties. Participants also completed a written exam and essay, oral board, and tested their skills in Combat Water Survival Training.
One of the most intricate events graded competitors’ ability to lead a team as they simulated a patrol through a mock village where they encountered simulations of improvised explosive devices, direct fire and casualties. The candidates had to demonstrate their ability to provide life-saving medical aid, called Tactical Combat Casualty Care, to treat the casualty’s immediate wounds and call-in air medical evacuation while accompanying the casualty from the battlefield via helicopter. The scenarios were based on actual events Soldiers experience in combat.
“They went out there, they trained hard, they were pushed and they were stressed,” said Col. Patrick T. Birchfield, hospital commander, stressing how impressed he was at the real-world scenarios that went into field events at the competition. “It really challenged them. They ate it up and they were hungry for more.”
Douei competed last year as a private first class and returned this year as a sergeant.
“Thank you for the opportunity and thank you for everything,” said Douei, a West Africa native who immigrated to the United States and earned his citizenship while serving in the Army. “To all the competitors, I was here last year and I did not win last year, so I know how you feel. Just make sure you never accept defeat and you come back again next year, just like I did.”
“I’m proud of everyone who competed. It was hard and we went through a lot of challenges these past few days and I’m proud because we were all there for each other,” said Clayton.
Birchfield and Santiago both had praise for the hospital’s NCOs who worked with other units on Fort Campbell to create a high-caliber competition that took competitors outside their clinical comfort zone and tested their Soldier skills.
Douei and Clayton will go on to represent BACH in the Regional Health Command-Atlantic Best Warrior Competition later this year.
Other participants were Staff Sgt. Derrick Hise, Air Assault Family Medical Home; Staff Sgt. Franck Petithomme, Nutrition Care Division; Sgt. DeMarcus Heath, Dept. of Pharmacy; Sgt. Alvin Korus, Dept. of Pathology; Spc. Masroor Ali, Dept. of Surgery; Spc. Joseph Booker, Byrd Soldier and Family Medical Home; Spc. Juan De Paz, Air Assault Family Medical Home; and Spc. Keira Pastor, Preventive Medicine.
Blanchfield supports the medical readiness of Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell. Soldiers and federal civil service employees assigned to the hospital’s Soldier and Patient Centered Medical Homes provide primary care service to more than 72,000 enrolled Soldiers, Retirees and their Family members. Additionally, numerous specialty care, including emergency medicine, surgery, integrated disability evaluation, traumatic brain injury, behavioral health, women’s health and inpatient care and many services, are provided to more than 92,000 eligible beneficiaries within the 40-mile radius of Fort Campbell.