WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 31, 2013) -- Twenty eight company-grade officers were honored at a Pentagon ceremony, May 30, with the prestigious General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.
The award is presented annually to company grade officers who epitomize the values championed by MacArthur: duty, honor and country. Award recipients included 24 captains, two warrant officers and a first lieutenant. Each received a 15-pound bronze bust of MacArthur.
Addressing the recipients and ceremony attendees, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno said the recipients would now join the ranks of only 649 Soldiers who had ever been honored with the award.
"The 28 of you receiving this award this afternoon are clearly some of our most outstanding junior Army officers," he said, pointing out that nearly all had served combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan or both. "You represent not only the best of the total Army, active, National Guard and Army Reserve, but also the very best that our nation has to offer."
Odierno challenged the junior officers to not rest on their present success, but to constantly build on that success while continuing to be passionate about what they do. He asked them to rededicate their efforts to encourage individual development in their men and women in order to build strong, cohesive Soldier teams.
"Our Army is an all-volunteer force, and a Soldier's decision to continue to serve is directly related to the quality of leadership they receive," Odierno said. "You all have set the tone and climate that directly influences whether our Soldiers choose to embrace the Army as a profession, it is a profound responsibility."
James Wofford, with the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation, also saluted the awardees, telling them they were the successors to Douglas MacArthur himself, and thanking them and their families for their sacrifices and their continued leadership into the future.
Capt. William E. Lepp, Army Reserve Military Intelligence Readiness Command, said he didn't understand the magnitude of the award until he met his 27 peers and saw the leadership traits they exhibited.
"I feel humbled because I'm only here because of the Soldiers and noncommissioned officers I've served with and all the hard work and dedication they put forth to support me," said Lepp, a former Marine noncommissioned officer. "I have five Soldiers I can think of right now back at my unit that mentor me on a daily basis to help me be a better leader for my Soldiers."
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason W. Myers, with the 3rd Special Forces Group, also understood the humility expressed by the captain. He said the primary reason he was being honored was due to the quality of Soldiers he leads, and of those who lead him.
"I'm very fortunate to have been surrounded by excellent Soldiers and such a great cross-section of the whole Army here from varied backgrounds in different fields, it's all pretty humbling," he said.
Capt. Lukas B. Wright, with the Minnesota Army National Guard, said it was a great honor to receive the individual recognition, but credited his success to the hard work, dedication and support of the Soldiers he's served with over the years.
"You give them direction and then you give them ends and they figure out the ways and the means to accomplish the mission. So it really is an honor to receive this," Wright said. "This award is as much about them as it is about me."
The award was first presented in 1987 by the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation and Army. The award was sculpted by Zenos Frudakis, a director of the National Sculpture Society.
The 2012 General Douglas MacArthur Award winners are:
-- Capt. Paul J. Benfield, Military District of Washington
-- Capt. Thomas C. Billig IV, Training and Doctrine Command
-- Capt. William J. Denn III, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command
-- Capt. Michael R. Kelvington, Forces Command
-- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason W. Myers, U.S. Army Special Operations Command
-- Capt. Erik S. Norman, Forces Command
-- Capt. James E. Perkins, U.S. Army Europe
-- Capt. Widmar J. Roman, Forces Command
-- Capt. Shane P. Sullivan, U.S. Army Special Operations Command
-- Capt. Benjamin T. Summers, Forces Command
-- Capt. Kelly L. Thompson, USMA
-- Capt. Jasmine D. Walker, Forces Command
-- Capt. Andrew C. Webb, 8th U.S. Army
-- Capt. Daniel T. Zimmer, U.S. Army Pacific
Army Reserve award recipients:
-- Capt. Barbara M. Algarin, Joint and Special Troops Support Command
-- Capt. Michelle E. Kuck, Military Intelligence Readiness Command
-- Capt. William E. Lepp, Military Intelligence Readiness Command
-- Capt. Anthony Padilla, Joint and Special Troops Support Command
-- 1st Lt. Joseph H. Ruhnke, 9th Mission Support Command
-- Capt. Tony Torres, U.S. Army Reserve Command
-- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Leslie C. Westbrook, Military Intelligence Readiness Command
Army National Guard award recipients:
-- Capt. Christopher J. Cunningham, Mass.
-- Capt. Jonathan S. Metcalf, Ark.
-- Capt. Curtis M. Persinger, Ky.
-- Capt. Gavin K. Sandvig, Iowa
-- Capt. David J. Sly, Vermont
-- Chief Warrant Officer 2 James A. Swift, Ore.
-- Capt. Lukas B. Wright, Vermont