Faces of Best Medic

More than 60 expert medical professionals from across the Army converged on Camp Bullis, Texas, this week to vie for bragging rights in the Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. Army Best Medic Competition, which ends with the announcement of the 2016 winners, Oct. 28. We asked a few of the contenders why they decided to compete in the grueling 72-hour contest at Camp Bullis, Texas. Here’s what they had to say.


Sgt. TainatongoSgt. Gregory-Ignacio Tainatongo

Unit: 25th Infantry Division

Age: 25

Hometown: Spanaway, Michigan

I wanted to demonstrate to my Soldiers that even though I’m higher ranking than them, I can still obtain and practice my skills and, when in need, I’m able to perform. I have nothing to prove – I know I’m a good medic. But this competition would be challenging for anybody. Coming from Hawaii, we’ve lost a bunch of hours so we’re trying to adjust to the hours here in Texas. With the sleep schedule, it’s been pretty hard. You find yourself up earlier than you need to be.


Sgt. Zesati and Sgt. Castillo

Sgt. Steven Zesati (left)

Unit: Ranger Training Brigade

Age: 23

Hometown: El Paso, Texas

We feel like we’re the best medics in the world, so we wanted to see what else the Army has to offer. We’ve been getting used to the competition. Seeing others who have experience with the Best Medic is hard, because they’ve done it before. We’re coming in brand new, trying to figure out how to pace ourselves. But that’s OK; we’re part of the Army and we adapt and overcome. We never quit. You live on your feet, rather than die on your knees.

Sgt. Adrian Castillo (same photo, right)

Unit: Ranger Training Brigade

Age: 27

Hometown: Buena Park, California

I wanted to see whether or not the other units are really as badass as they claim to be. We already know that we’re the best. However, we’re trying to adapt to everyone around here. A few of the competitors have been here three or even four times. They’ve seen it all.


Spc. Bynum

Spc. Bradley Bynum

Unit: 82nd Airborne Division

Age: 24

Hometown: Moutrie, Georgia

I like challenges and to see where I stand amongst my peers. This competition is a lot more physical, with more quick medicine than in the EFMB (Expert Field Medical Badge testing). There’s a lot more improvisation. Any time you’re doing something like this, you know you’re going to prove something to yourself. It’s been rough and I’m ready to get it over with. But I’ve gained a lot of training aids that I can take back with me. I’ll definitely use everything I’ve done here to train other Soldiers so they can better themselves.


1st Lt. Pang and Sgt. 1st Class Eisele

1st Lt. Chi Wing Pang (top)

Unit: Regional Health Command-Central

Age: 24

Hometown: San Francisco

I don’t get to do too much outside the hospital, so this is a really unique opportunity to compete, learn more things and hopefully get a chance to teach others.

Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Eisele (same photo, bottom)

Unit: Regional Health Command-Central

Age: 35

Hometown: Sarasota, Florida

This is my second time out here. I wanted to prove to myself that I could still do it, and to show my Soldiers to never quit and always keep going. Quitting is not in my vocabulary, but it’s pretty challenging with the competitors we’re up against.


Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for clarity and length. Photos by Soldiers photographer Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr. Text compiled by Army News Service writer Sean Kimmons.


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