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News | April 23, 2021

Regional Health Command Europe Soldiers lead from the front

By Russell Toof

Regional Health Command Europe’s best junior officers and first sergeants squared off to compete for the title of Best Leader recently in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

When the dust settled, 1st Lt. Paige Runco and 1st Sgt. Andrew DeVito were selected as the winners and will join RHCE’s best noncommissioned officer and best Soldier at Fort Shafter, Hawaii to compete for the U.S. Army Medical Command Best Leader title.

Scheduled for July 26–30, the BLC is designed to promote “esprit de corps” throughout the Army while recognizing Soldiers that demonstrate a commitment to the Army values and embody the warrior ethos. The competition recognizes those Soldiers demonstrating superb military bearing and communication skills, knowledge of various military subjects, and the ability to perform a variety of Soldier skills.

“Representing RHCE and MEDCOM as the best leader would be an honor,” said Runco, a registered nurse at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “I’d love to be a role model for the younger Soldiers that I have worked with within the hospital, as well as my junior officer peers. I hope it would show them that nurses are capable of being more than just a nurse.”

Runco credits her training last year for helping her get through this competition.

“It really helped that I spent about five months training up for the Expert Field Medical Badge in September of last year,” she said. “Since I had recently gone over a lot of skills, they were still fresh in my mind and helped me throughout the competition.”

For the event in Grafenwoehr, competitors had to go through a variety of tasks including marksmanship, land navigation, an obstacle course, chemical defense, medical tasks, and a 30-plus mile road march.

“For me, one of the biggest lessons learned was how physically and mentally demanding competitions of this nature are,” said DeVito, currently assigned to U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Bavaria. “I’ve been in the Army for about 18 years and I’ve participated in and organized competitions many times. Being back in the mode of preparing to compete again made me realize that no matter what stage of your Army career you find yourself in, there remains a need to stay fit to fight and capable of any mission the Army asks from you.”

Brig. Gen. Mark Thompson, commanding general for RHCE, spoke at the April 14 ceremony.

“Competing for the title of Best Leader takes determination, commitment, and most of all, personal courage,” said Thompson. “The Soldiers who stand before you today demonstrate their commitment to our Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. Each of you who competed this week has earned the respect of your peers and your superiors alike. I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of you.”

Stay tuned to Regional Health Command Europe and Army Medicine social media in July for updates on the MEDCOM-level competition.
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