The Navy secured some bragging rights over its landlubbing sister service last month, when a corpsman took top honors at the Army’s Best Warrior Competition.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Michael O’Connell, the owner of a mighty mustache during the competition, is a special operations independent duty corpsman and instructor with the Naval Special Operations Medical Institute.

O’Connell bested seven soldiers in the noncommissioned officer’s category to make the fleet proud.

In addition to testing physical fitness, the annual competition hosted by the Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School aims to challenge participants’ tactical and technical skills in marksmanship, combat casualty care and land navigation. They also must complete an oral board and cognitive test, a written exam, a swim test and a ruck march.

“I was trained in Marine Corps Reconnaissance and Marine Special Operations Command skill sets, so the tasks required of me during this competition were of a familiar and basic nature,” O’Connell said in a Navy news release. “I did have to learn several Army concepts and regulations for the oral board component of this competition.”

The Naval Special Operations Medical Institute, or NSOMI, a detachment of the Navy Medicine Operational Training Command, educates corpsmen to work for U.S. Marine Forces Special Operations Command and Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance.

Master Chief Petty Officer Shawn Pittman, NSOMI’s senior enlisted leader, said O’Connell demonstrates the qualities necessary for a successful Navy corpsman.

“O’Connell exemplifies the quintessential Navy Corpsman,” Pittman said in a statement. “His work ethic is unparalleled, and he is dedicated to training the next generation of special operations independent duty corpsman and medics to meet and defeat any challenge they face.”

While O’Connell has spent ample time instructing students, the competition proved an opportunity to ensure that his own skills were up to snuff.

“I was glad to get back out there and see where my individual weaknesses lie and perform at a level that I haven’t been able to do since rotating to my shore duty,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell was the only sailor representing the sea service in the competition, and received the Army Commendation Medal at an awards ceremony.

“I never once thought that I had this competition in the bag,” O’Connell said. “What I would say to future sailors wanting to compete in the BWC is to train hard and prepare thoroughly. I think the Army is going to put their best foot forward next year to regain the title.”

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