Story by: Sgt. Thomas Duval

Posted: March 19, 2015

Story courtesy of: Task Force Sinai

Sgt. Thomas Duval Spc. Ricardo Gonzales, a combat medic from the Minnesota National Guard, currently serving in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with Task Force Sinai, performs first aid on a simulated casualty during the unit's Best Warrior Competition held March 18, 2015. During the competition Soldiers underwent a number of mental and physical tests that included trauma lanes, physical fitness test, weapons qualification and a formal board, among others. (U.S. Army Photo By: Sgt. Thomas Duval, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)
Sgt. Thomas Duval
Spc. Ricardo Gonzales, a combat medic from the Minnesota National Guard, currently serving in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with Task Force Sinai, performs first aid on a simulated casualty during the unit's Best Warrior Competition held March 18, 2015. During the competition Soldiers underwent a number of mental and physical tests that included trauma lanes, physical fitness test, weapons qualification and a formal board, among others. (U.S. Army Photo By: Sgt. Thomas Duval, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)

EL GORAH, Egypt — After being in the Sinai Desert supporting peace with the Multinational Force and Observers for less than a month, Spc. Tommy Ly has already taken the reins and set the standard for his peers.

Ly, a financial management technician assigned to the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment- currently operating as the Army’s U.S. Security Battalion in Sinai Egypt- won the Task Force Sinai Soldier of the Quarter Competition held here March 18, 2015. 

“I have always set high standards to push myself to be better and to win this is just a relief,” Ly, a Channelview, Texas, native said.

For Ly and the other hopefuls, the two-day event kicked off March 17th as Soldiers were tested on their Army knowledge with a written exam. 

Day Two of the competition began by testing each Soldier’s physical prowess during the Army Physical Fitness Test and continued as each competitor completed a number of situational training lanes. The lanes included weapons qualification, treating a casualty, calling in a nine-line medevac, and communications lane. Each participant was graded on their proficiency in each warrior task and given an overall score. 

That score was carried with the Soldiers as they entered the final obstacle- a formal board in front of their leaders. During the board, senior leaders from Task Force Sinai tested the nominees on their overall knowledge on more than 12 Army categories ranging from regulations to leader values. 

“I really learned a lot about myself throughout this competition,” Ly added. “Studying the different topics taught me what Army leadership is and I was able to pick up different leadership traits.” 

To make the situation more challenging, Ly only arrived to the Sinai three weeks prior to the competition and was told while unpacking that he would be selected to represent his unit. 

Ly, a four-year Army veteran who serves as part of the North Camp Response Team for the MFO, immediately started to study on his limited amount of off-time. Although the amount of dedication each Soldier put into preparing for the competition cannot accurately be measured Ly said he didn’t do it alone and instead attributes his success to his leaders who mentored him along the way.

His platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Harris, ensured Ly stayed motivated by challenging him on a daily basis. 

“I told him you better score a 270 or higher on your PT test or else you’re not going,” Harris said. “I even made him run with someone who I knew would push him.” 

Harris also challenged Ly with by reminding him of the unspoken rivalry between National Guard and active duty Soldiers. 

“There’s always been a rivalry between the guard and active duty,” Ly said. “It’s nice for us to win something like this.” 

At the end of the day, all of Ly’s sacrifices paid off but as he walked away with the title of ‘Best Soldier in the Desert’, for this quarter, he didn’t have time to celebrate. Instead he did what a true Soldier does and got right back to work.