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NEWS | Jan. 27, 2022

Kentucky Guardsmen recognized for leadership

By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Two Kentucky National Guardsman were awarded the Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award for Kentucky.

The winners of the Kentucky selection for the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award are Capt. Eric Sheaks, with the 75th Troop Command and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kristan Beard with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade.

For over three decades, the MacArthur award has been presented to officers and warrant officers whose service has been recognized as among the finest in the regular Army, Reserve and the National Guard.

“The Douglas MacArthur Award is probably one of the most prestigious awards an officer can get, and certainly a junior officer,” said Col. Timothy Starke, director of operations for the Kentucky National Guard. “As much as it recognizes achievement, it also recognizes potential. Those officers who are selected because they are people that have attributes and characteristics becoming of a leader.”

Characteristics that both Beard and Sheaks possess.

“To even be considered as a potential nominee from my command with my fellow peers for the General Douglas McArthur award is a true honor, let alone be selected to represent the Kentucky National Guard,” said Sheaks.

Sheaks is traditional M-Day Soldier serving as the Company commander for the 2112th Transportation Company within the 1792nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion consisting of over 167 Soldiers. He is responsible for personnel strength, readiness, training, leader development, talent management, logistical support and good order and discipline throughout the Company. On the civilian side, he works as a federal employee for the Department of the Army working for U.S. Army Cadet Command, 7th Brigade as a Recruiting Operations Officer assigned to Eastern Kentucky University’s Army Senior ROTC program, where he is responsible for recruiting college students with the potential to become commissioned Army Officers.

Beard is currently serving the Guard as a pilot in the Charlie Co. 2/238th Medevac Flight Company. On the civilian side she is employed by the Lexington Police Department as a patrol officer and is a member of the Air Support Unit.

Her quiet leadership is something that she uses in both of her career fields.

“Selfless service as always been at the forefront of my leadership style,” she said. “Looking back at both of my careers; the individuals who have had the greatest impact on my life were those who did not seek any recognition or gain from coaching and developing me. Those individuals taught me that you do not have to be loud and demanding in order to achieve results. By setting aside personal success, it allows for the success of the organization to take priority and is much more rewarding.”
Both of these leaders showed great humility when asked about what sets them apart from their peers and said that it was a total team effort when it came to their unit success.

“I personally do not believe I stand out above my peers,” said Sheaks. “We each have different experiences and backgrounds that make each of us unique leaders, which allows us stand out in our own ways.” 

Sheaks experience all began as an active-duty enlisted Soldier at Fort Campbell, KY., and he draws from his background experiences as a prior enlisted into my leadership, mentorship, and training methods.  

“Without effective leadership within the organization to provide guidance, mentorship, training, clear mission goals, effective communication, the organization will likely fail, but more importantly we fail our Soldiers,” he added. “In my opinion, one of the key aspects for all effective leaders is be a life-long learner.”

As far as what advice that they would offer to the next round of leaders coming up in the ranks, they encourage humility and selfless service.

“Ultimately, I would say that you should reflect the leadership skills you desire to see from your counterparts,” said Beard. “I believe that by displaying the attributes you wish to see in others, it encourages those around you to do the same.”
Sheaks added.

“My advice for all leaders who wish to be considered for this award is to stay humble, stay transparent, be a lifelong learner, continue developing yourself, take care of your Soldiers and allow your actions speak for themselves, and stay true to your character and values.”

These two individuals' packets will be forwarded to National Guard Bureau for national consideration for the Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award which goes to the top 28 company-grade officers.

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