WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 7, 2010) -- Twenty-eight of the Army's most promising captains and warrant officers were lauded at the 23rd Annual General Douglas MacArthur Leadership awards ceremony at the Pentagon Thursday.

Among recipients were an amputee, an Army Times Soldier of the Year and Family members who accepted awards on behalf of deployed winners.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. presented the awards, which were given to officers who demonstrate the ideals of duty, honor and country, and who epitomize the traits MacArthur stood for.

"We need leaders of character and competence to handle the challenges of the 21st century ... you embody the spirit that our country will need to lead it forward in the decades ahead," said Casey.

Casey said he couldn't be prouder to be in the same Army as the MacArthur honorees.

"As I read through the letters of recommendation for these great young officers, I was absolutely stunned by what they've accomplished in such a short period of time in their careers," he said.

One captain, the 2007 Army Times Soldier of the Year, has accomplished much in his career, despite harrowing challenges.

Capt. Scott M. Smiley, current commander of the Warrior Transition Unit at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, refuses to let an injury sustained from a deployment stand in his way.

Blinded as a result of a suicide car bombing in Mosul, Iraq in 2005, Smiley suffered shrapnel injuries to his face and left frontal lobe. But he hasn't slowed down. Since 2005 Smiley and his wife have had two children, he's pursued a master's degree, taught at West Point, and has now assumed his first command.

Smiley, a native of Pasco, Wash., and former graduate of West Point, said as a teacher of military leadership and behavioral science, he tried to inspire his students to become leaders of character.

"Regardless of what I've been through, I believe the Army has a standard and to be able to uphold that is what I strive for every day," Smiley said.

Now, as a leader of other injured Soldiers, Smiley said he can be compassionate because he's been in their shoes, but also looks for ways to improve his unit.

"I understood what great leadership was, and I understood what poor leadership was, and so it's my goal to better my company in the best way possible," said Smiley of taking on the command.

Receiving an award on behalf of her husband Shaun was Elizabeth S. Conlin, of Rathdrum, Idaho. Conlin said it was a little bittersweet that her husband, currently deployed to Afghanistan, couldn't be there to accept the award himself, but that she was very proud of him.

"I've always thought he was a very passionate leader, and [the award] just solidifies it for me," Conlin said of her husband. "He always looks for ways to make things easier and better for his guys."

Capt. Daniel S. Luckett, due to deploy to Afghanistan in the coming weeks, has also overcome obstacles in his career Aca,!"- after being hit by an improvised explosive device on a deployment to Iraq in 2008, he became a double amputee.

Luckett's left leg was amputated below the knee, and he lost part of his right foot. However, after eight months of rehabilitation, Luckett returned to his unit at Fort Campbell, Ky., and continues to serve as the executive officer for Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment.

"It's extraordinarily humbling," Luckett said of winning the MacArthur. "Just to be mentioned in the same breath as previous award-winners and the namesake of the award is an incredible feeling."

Of his pending deployment, Luckett said, "It's an exciting opportunity ... it was always my goal when I was injured to return to duty in the same capacity as I was before, and then to deploy again."

Also awarded for his work on a deployment was Capt. Andrew S. Culbreath, a military attorney in the Army Reserve.

"I'm extremely proud and humbled and especially thankful to my family, because without my family and my wife, I wouldn't be here," Culbreath said.

"Words just don't describe how proud I am," said Anne Culbreath, Andrew's wife.

Fourteen active-duty, seven Army Reserve, and seven National Guard officers are selected each year to receive the MacArthur leadership award. Awardees are presented with an engraved 15-pound bronze bust of MacArthur.

Active Army recipients include:

• Capt. Erhan Bedestani, U.S. Army Special Operations Command
• Capt. Shaun S. Conlin, U.S. Army Forces Command
• Capt. Meghan L. Cumpston, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command
• Capt. Carlos David B. Flynn, U.S. Army Forces Command
• Capt. Donald R. Neal, U.S. Army Forces Command
• Capt. Timothy R. Palmer, U.S. Army Europe
• Capt. Justin M. Pritchard, U.S. Army Forces Command
• Capt. Kendall A. Robinson, U.S. Army Forces Command
• Capt. Jonathan E. G. Silk, U.S. Army Forces Command
• Capt. Scott M. Smiley, United States Military Academy
• Capt. Bryan F. Williams, U.S. Army Pacific Command
• Capt. Richard E. Wood, U.S. Army Medical Command
• Capt. Daniel S. Luckett, U.S. Army Forces Command
• Chief Warrant Officer Ricky W. Fowler, U.S. Army Special Operations Command

Army National Guard recipients include:

• Capt. William D. Barthen, Wisconsin Army National Guard
• Capt. Stephen E. Brack, Arkansas Army National Guard
• Capt. William M. Gorby, West Virginia Army National Guard
• Capt. Charles D. Mcwilliams, Nebraska Army National Guard
• Capt. Timothy J. Newman, Illinois Army National Guard
• Capt. Joseph A. Ruotolo, Pennsylvania Army National Guard
• Chief Warrant Officer Mark J. Simon, Rhode Island Army National Guard

U.S. Army Reserve recipients include:

• Capt. Alejandro L. Buniag, 9th Mission Support Command
• Capt. Darryl A. Cox, Army Reserve Medical Command
• Capt. Andrew S. Culbreath, Joint And Special Troops Support Command
• Capt. Igor V. Dubinsky, 108th Training Command (IET)
• Capt. Aaron L. Hoffman, 108th Training Command (IET)
• Capt. Michelle J. Wesley, Army Criminal Investigation Command
• Chief Warrant Officer Thomas A. Yelito, Army Criminal Investigation Command