Specialist Robert Busch has never been in combat, but he's probably the kind of soldier his buddies would want next to them if they ever were.
Busch, a 23-year-old medic from Lexington, was named Best Warrior last week in a competition designed to identify the most well-rounded of the 12,000 soldiers in the Army Reserve's 412th Theater Engineer Command.
During the competition at Camp Smith, N.Y., Busch did about 100 push-ups in two minutes and about 95 sit-ups in the same length of time. His time on a two-mile run was 12:55. He ran a 10k while loaded down with about 80 pounds of equipment in an hour and 25 minutes.
He aced a series of other tasks, including marksmanship, drill and ceremony, land navigation and first aid. The competition also involved a written test and a question and answer session with a panel of superiors.
How did he get ready for all that?
"A lot of the preparation of it really didn't take place," Busch said in an interview.
He works more than 50 hours a week at Kroger in Versailles, so he said he just didn't have the time to do much prep work.
But he went to the gym anytime he could, and once he arrived in New York, Busch said he buckled down and studied.
It all worked out.
He beat the other 15 contestants from around the country, who were considered the best in their battalions. Busch was representing the 478th Engineer Battalion in Fort Thomas.
He now moves on to the next level, which will determine the Best Warrior in the U.S. Army Reserve. That competition takes place at Fort McCoy, Wis., in July. The winner there compete overall title of Best Warrior in the Army.
Busch said he was initially entered in the competition when the other soldiers in his company chose him to represent them.
They knew he scored well in physical fitness, and "they thought I was smart because I'm a medic," he said with a laugh.
For Busch, the most nerve-wracking part of the Best Warrior contest is being quizzed by superiors on topics ranging from military knowledge to current events.
"One of the biggest things is learning how to control your nerves," he said. "They're like your boss's boss's boss. They're extremely intimidating."