Hawaii Soldier Wins MacArthur Leadership Award
March 22, 2010
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Mar. 12, 2010) -- Gen. Douglas MacArthur used the words duty, honor, country in his famous farewell speech to the West Point Corps of Cadets on May 12, 1962. Those three words accurately describe the principles of one 8th Theater Sustainment Command Soldier, who received a Department of the Army-level leadership award.
Capt. Bryan Williams, Aide-de-Camp to the commanding general, 8th TSC, was one of 28 active and reserve component company-grade officers announced last week as winners of the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. The award recognizes company-grade officers who demonstrate the ideals for which General MacArthur stood - duty, honor, and country. The award also promotes and sustains effective junior officer leadership in the Army by recognizing those officers who exhibit outstanding military performance, leadership, and achievement.
"I was absolutely floored when Major General Terry (8th TSC commanding general) told me I had won," Williams said. "I didn\'t become a commissioned officer for the recognition; it's all about positively impacting the lives of Soldiers and their families."
Williams, a native of Redlands, Calif., enlisted in the Army in 1993 as a food service specialist, and describes himself as "a classic case of joining the Army for college money".
"I messed around after high school for a couple of years, then looked into the Army and saw that I could be a food service specialist and get college money, and thought 'this will be easy'," Williams said. "I never planned on staying in, but I found out how much goodness there is of being in this culture of the Army."
His career in food service took him from Fort Lee, Va., to the White House, where he worked for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, and culminated as the dining facility manager for the Old Guard, at Ft. Myer, Va.
"I was a sergeant first class at the time, and for some reason, I gravitated towards mentors that were commissioned officers," he said. "I modeled my behavior and thinking after those officers and was drawn towards becoming a commissioned officer."
Williams completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a quartermaster officer in Nov. of 2003. He later assumed command of Distribution Company, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in March of 2008. Ten months of Williams' company command was spent in combat at Camp Taji, Iraq.
"Unequivocally, the most rewarding, challenging experience I've had not only in my career, but my whole life," Williams said about serving as a company commander. "I looked for ways to make things better, somehow; changing policies, changing procedures, and it doesn't get any better than knowing that everything you do can touch lives."
Williams, 37, says much of his success is based on the counsel and encouragement he gets at home. He met his future wife, Marybeth, while both competed on the All-Army Rugby team. They were married in 2000 and are the proud parents of two girls, Elizabeth, 10, and Bethany, 7.
"(Marybeth) tackled me at rugby practice one day, and we couldn't stand each other," he quipped. "But our relationship grew as we got to know one another. Her support motivates me to lead troops with an elevated level of passion. Having my family share in my success makes it even sweeter."
In addition to family support, Williams credits his faith as a key reason for his success.
"My first sergeant and I devoted our first act together every morning to praying for our troops and for each other to make wise decisions," he said.
Receiving a MacArthur Leadership Award is a life-changing event for an individual Soldier, but Williams says he also owes a lot of credit to close friends and co-workers.
"When I found out I won, I called my former first sergeant and best friend, Kenneth Reynolds, who was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan," Williams said. "I thanked Major Jason Edwards, who nominated me for the award, and sent about 12 e-mails out to people who have helped me along the way, thanking them for what we were all able to accomplish. It was a team effort and I wanted to express that."
Williams and his wife will travel to Washington, DC, in May to accept the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon May 6.