By Sgt. Marc LoiJuly 16, 2014
FORT MEADE, Md. -- John Quincy Adams followed his father's footsteps to become president. Peyton Manning carried on his father's legacy by becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Not to be left out, Steven S. Elrod followed his own father's Army Reserve career as a special agent with the US Army Reserve's Criminal Investigation Command. Elrod, a Chief Warrant Officer 2 with the 307th Military Police Detachment (CID), 200th Military Police Command, became one of just 28 company-grade Army officers to receive the prestigious Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award during a Pentagon-ceremony May 31.
Though he started out in the Army as a supply specialist, Elrod's upbringing as the son of the commander of the unit he currently works for served as the inspiration he needed to become a CID agent.
"My dad was a CID agent and seeing that growing up did inspire me," he said. "Getting into CID was hard -- being nominated for this award among such a talent field of officers in CID was even harder -- it's a big honor."
Named after the former five-star general and Army Chief-of-Staff, the MacArthur Award is the Army's nod to company-grade officers and warrant officers who display above-and-beyond leadership potential, much like its namesake, whose led America through two world wars and, later, the Korean War. Since its inception, only about 700 active, Reserve and Guard officers have received the award.
"It means a lot," Elrod, a Douglas, Georgia native, said. "Trying to keep up with your peers -- as well as getting nominated who are good leaders -- that's such an honor."
That recognition and honor of leadership wouldn't have happened, said Elroy, had it not been for the Soldiers with whom he serves -- whether a superior officer or a young sergeant under his charge, Elroy said their leadership characteristics allowed him to learn from them, thus becoming a better leader himself.
"I've been very fortunate to have surrounded myself with good leaders," Elroy said. "They helped mentor me -- and having my dad in the field also helped.
"Everybody in the unit thinks the world of him," said Elroy of his father, who retired as a CW4. "In every office I've served, everyone knew my father and thought the world of him -- it didn't put pressure on me, but it made me live up to the name and the same work ethics."
Yet, it wasn't just his father who influenced Elroy's work ethics and gave him the knack to lead. Other officers and Soldiers within the command also gave him the inspiration to lead, he said.
Part of that leadership, said Elroy, is taking care of Soldiers -- something he said is paramount within the military, for taking care of Soldiers will oftentimes translate into taking care of the Army, and eventually, accomplishing the mission.
"Taking care of Soldiers is understanding that everyone has situations that will pop up, and it means doing right by them and acknowledging that life happens," he said. "It's understanding what's going with Soldiers and their personal lives."
Yet, being a compassionate leader is simply not enough. A leader has to grow, and the way to do that is listen to other leaders and take in the leadership styles that positively contribute to the Army, Elroy said.
"Always surround yourself with people who know more than you because you can learn from everybody," said Elrod. "There are people who have more experiences and dedication -- people with a greater knowledge base than I do-- I am fortunately enough to recognize that."
One of the leaders with greater knowledge and experiences than Elrod is Chief Warrant Officer Mary Hostetler, the 200th MPC's command chief warrant officer responsible for nominating Elrod for the award. Although they'd never worked together directly, Hostetler said she was impressed with Elrod's drive and sense of responsibility -- so much, so that she felt confident enough to take leave without worrying about an important assignment she'd handed over to Elrod.
"He was responsible for taking over my important assignment while [I was] on leave, allowing me to take leave with confidence my responsibilities were handed over to a young, capable leader," she said.
It wasn't just Elrod's ability to take over assignments responsibly and with care that struck a chord with Hostetler, however. His performance in 2013, which included a mobilization onto active also, impressed her. After his mobilization, Elrod volunteered to stay on as the team leader for the Secretary of Defense Protective Services travel team, which included providing protection for the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense in overseas travel.
"He devoted countless hours to educate and train CID support agents to conduct protection operations worldwide, which ensured the security and safety of both the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense," Hostetler said.
For her role in nominating Elrod, Hostetler was able to witness the ceremony in which he was honored -- something she said was satisfying not only of what he represented, but also what it meant for the Army's future.
"I got goose bumps as I watched and listened when he was announced as the Chief Warrant Officer recipient of the award representing the 200th MPC," said Hostetler, who has been a CID agent since 1987. "It means I am supporting young leaders and reassures me that the future of the Army Reserves CID is in good hands."
Yet, while winning the award probably means his path to a higher rank is made much easier, Elrod said his goal isn't to attain a certain rank in the Army, but rather, to continue to contribute to the professional he grew up seeing the elder Elrod dedicating his life to, and eventually entering that career field himself.
"The goal isn't to get to a certain rank or position in the Army," he said. "It's to do a good job and lead the units and organizations I am a part of."