Wisconsin National Guard
Capt. Nils Henderson of Holmen, Wis., a flight operations officer with the Madison-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment and former commander of Company A, was one of 27 officers nationwide - and one of only seven Army National Guard officers - to receive the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award May 24 in the Pentagon Auditorium.
Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, and Judge James Mathews from the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation, presented the awards.
The MacArthur Leadership Award program recognizes company grade officers who demonstrate the ideals of duty, honor and country, with the goal of promoting and sustaining effective junior officer Army leadership.
Henderson said receiving the award was a great honor.
"The award recognizes the success of those around me," he said. "I had the chance to serve with an outstanding company with phenomenal leadership. That had a huge role in our overall success."
Lt. Col. Stephen Watkins, battalion commander for the 147th, along with Wisconsin Army National Guard Chief of Staff Col. Kenneth Koon and Brig. Gen. Scott Legwold, director of the Wisconsin National Guard Joint Staff, were on hand to see Henderson receive the award.
"That was certainly an honor, and appreciated," Henderson said.
Odierno said that the nation stands in good stead with young leaders living up to MacArthur's tenets of duty, honor and country.
"General MacArthur is undoubtedly one of the greatest military leaders that our nation has ever produced," Odierno 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.
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, the future of our nation."
The other Army National Guard Soldiers recognized include Army Capt. Audrey L. Fielding, Ohio 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.
Capt. Bill Barthen of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 132nd Brigade Support Battalion received the MacArthur Leadership Award in 2010.