ARLINGTON, Va. (May 30, 2012) -- Seven Soldiers from the Army National Guard were among the 27 recipients of the 2011 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon Auditorium, May 24.

The award recognizes company grade commissioned officers and warrant officers in the three Army components who demonstrate the ideals of duty, honor and country -- all of which general MacArthur stood for.

"So our nation stands in good stead with young leaders such as yourselves so obviously living up to his tenets of duty, honor, country," said Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army.

"General MacArthur is undoubtedly one of the greatest military leaders that our nation has ever produced," he said, "and it is an honor to be here amongst some of our greatest and strongest assets -- our talented young leaders."

Before presenting each of this year's recipients, Odierno noted the role in which each Soldier served in as a leader came with its own set of unique challenges.

"Company grade leadership is about leading our nation's sons and daughters at the tip of the tactical spear, and as company grade [leaders] you have the most impact on our young Soldiers," he said.

The seven Army National Guard Soldiers recognized included Capt. Audrey L. Fielding, Ohio Army National Guard; Capt. Nils D. Henderson, Wisconsin Army National Guard; Capt. Anthony J. Ortega, Massachusetts Army National Guard; Capt. Benjamin L. Ruffner, Florida Army National Guard; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Timmothy A. Smario, North Carolina Army National Guard; Capt. Andrew W. Vidourek, Oregon Army National Guard; and Capt. Charles W. Wimp Jr., Indiana Army National Guard.

This year marked the 25th year of the award, with 622 recipients to date, Odierno said.

In his closing words, he said that it was ironic that the strategic depth of the all-volunteer force of the Army was not in the hands of senior generals, but directly in the hands of the junior officer corps.

"I am frankly humbled to be in your presence," he said. "We need leaders like you to be at the forefront, guiding our transition to a leaner more agile force that remains adaptive, innovative, versatile and ready as part of the Joint Force 2020. You are the future of our Army (and) the future of our nation."