The team gets inspired during the competition – Fort Carson Mountaineer

By Sergeant. Kelsey Simmons

4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

SPC. Brandon Gracia, assigned to 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, climbs a rope during the Best Medic competition, Oct. 5, 2021, at Fort Carson, Colorado. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew Rabahy)

For two soldiers who never expected a medical career in their future, Staff Sgt. Ismael Marquez and SPC. Brandon Gracia has proven to himself and everyone around him that just like the contents of the IVs they handle, medicine flows through their veins.

After winning the Ivy Best Medic contest at Fort Carson, Oct. 7, 2021, the two Ivy Soldiers plan to be the second consecutive squad for 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, to take home the title of “the best doctors in the army”. Marquez and Gracia’s next step is competing in Command Sgt. Major Jack L. Clark Jr. Army Best Medic Competition Jan. 24-28, 2022, at Fort Hood, TX.

“It would be a huge honor to win the competition and bring it back to 4th Inf. Div., 2nd SBCT and our squadron, Marquez said. “The esprit de corps in our unit would continue to grow. We want our unit to be able to say that we produce only the “best doctors”. That’s the goal: to have the best medical platoon in the US Army.

The ABMC is a 72-84 hour two-soldier team competition that challenges the best Army medical teams in a demanding, continuous and realistic simulated operational environment. The winning team will take home the title of the Army’s Top Combat Medic for 2022.

Marquez was born in Anaheim, CA and raised in La Habra, CA.

“I wanted to be a firefighter, so I thought joining the military as a medic would help because in California, firefighting is very competitive,” Marquez said. “I originally just wanted to finish my four years and then go out and become a firefighter, but here I am eight years later.”

Staff Sgt.  Ismael Marquez

Staff Sgt. Ismael Marquez, with 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, performs CPR on a mannequin Oct. 5, 2021, during the Best Medic competition at the Ivy Physical Fitness Center .

Marquez spent his first three years in the military working at Brooke Army Medical Center at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

“We’ve seen everything from minor scratches and burns to gunshot wounds, stab wounds and serious injuries from car accidents,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time there – helping people and saving lives.”

Working in a hands-on medical environment, Marquez learned many skills he could pass on to future soldiers as he continued to rise through the ranks of the military.

“Growing up in Orlando, Florida, my mom and I never had a stable place to live,” Gracia said. “One day I walked into a recruiter’s office and told him that this sounded like a great opportunity. I went through the jobs and a combat medic appeared; I felt like he was calling my name. It was out of the blue for me, but it was different, new and something I had never experienced before, so it caught my eye.

Gracia said he quickly learned to love his new career, even though learning medicine didn’t come naturally to him at first.

“Since my arrival I have proven that I am a good doctor and that I deserve to be here,” Gracia said. “I’ve won the Expert Field Medic badge and now the Ivy Best Medic competition, so it’s all really solidified that for me.”

Gracia said her partner and platoon sergeant Marquez was instrumental in helping them both win the competition.

“If he hadn’t taught me these high-level medical skills, I never would have been able to do this,” Gracia said.

Marquez had a different perspective on the matter.

“I think if anything, Gracia inspired me,” he said. “I saw how excited Gracia was to compete in this year’s competition after her friend, Spc. Anchor Jennison, won the Best Army Physician competition last year, so I decided to compete with him as a partner. I wouldn’t be here without him.

Marquez not only influenced Gracia to become a more competent medic, but also had an inspiring effect on his entire squadron.

“Before Marquez arrived, we didn’t have an EFMB,” Gracia said. “After only one year of being our platoon sergeant, we have increased him to five. It’s a huge accomplishment.