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NEWS | Feb. 3, 2021

Leading Leaders from the 2020 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award Recipients

By Sgt. Jesse Elbouab, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Every branch of the military, since its inception, has taken the incentive to honor those that shine among their peers. From coins, medals, ribbons, and awarded honors, the tradition of celebrating the precedents of leadership remains.

One of those such awards in the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.

The MacArthur Leadership Award is presented to Officers & Warrant Officer grade leaders that display the qualities of duty, honor, and county.

Capt. Justin Gilliam & Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Burnett of the Kentucky Army National Guard was awarded the prestigious honor on Dec. 11, 2020. This honor comes from years of hard work and dedication.

Chief Burnett, a Field Artillery targeting technician with the 138th Field Artillery Brigade, has served in the Guard for 17 years. Joining as a military policeman first and then switching to his ‘true calling’ in the field artillery world three years later.

"Having my unit nominate me for this award is the honor I hold greatest," said Burnett. "It means a lot to me that the people with whom I work with find my efforts and results valuable."

Gilliam has also served the Commonwealth for 17 years, enlisting in 2003. Gilliam commissioned in 2011 and today he is the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (CBRN) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP).

"The most humbling part of receiving this award is being recognized by my leaders as someone who embodies the qualities of Duty, Honor, and Country," said Gilliam. Deserving this award means that the tasks were accomplished through teamwork and that everyone understood the intent and purpose. While I may have received this award as an individual, many others helped along the way, and for that, they deserve recognition as well."

The McArthur legacy is as follows, according to

MacArthur commanded troops in the Southwest Pacific during World War II and oversaw the successful occupation of postwar Japan before leading United Nations forces in the Korean War. He received two Purple Hearts, seven Silver Stars, five Army Distinguished Service Medals, three Distinguished Service Crosses, and -- like his father, Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur Jr. -- the Medal of Honor.

He was also only one of five Army officers to achieve the Army's rank, a five-star general.

On October 14, 2020, former Army Chief of Staff General James C. McConville spoke to awardees about the three "Cs" of outstanding leadership: competence, commitment, and character. However, during this speech, McConville expanded the concept to include a 4th "C," Care.

Quoting President Teddy Roosevelt, McConville reminded the deserving leaders of the responsibility of such an honor.

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

This heavy emphasis on caring for Soldiers radically changes how we approach leadership in the Army today. Focus on family, community, and the man or woman showing up to serve with purpose and intent is a higher priority than ever before.

"As leaders, we must continue to focus on the Soldier," said Gilliam. "We should not see Soldiers as a body or number to hold down a position, yet an individual who brings different assets to the organization. When we care for the Soldier and their family, we have a Soldier who is fully invested."

Invested Soldiers are crucial for the continuation and effectiveness of the mission. There are many ways that leaders can impact their Soldiers, but it starts with setting the pace for the next generation to follow.

"To be better, we must progress from our current standard," said Burnett. "That includes our physical standards as well as our technical and tactical standards. Also, soldiers work together, so we as leaders need to hold our peers accountable to the standards. This will ensure the next generation can maintain the correct direction in growth.

The next generation is the priority any good leader should invest in for continued mission success. The leaders of today are mentoring, training, and motivating the leaders of tomorrow.

"The most important thing that I feel leaders of tomorrow should know is that it takes everyone to accomplish the task," said Gilliam. "A successful leader is one who can walk away from an organization, and it still functions effectively. This means you have empowered people and that they understand the operations needed to make things successful; without the Soldier, we can accomplish nothing."

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