The U.S. Army's Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville presented 28 junior officers with the Gen. Douglas MacArthur leadership award during a ceremony Wednesday at the Pentagon.
The award winners were announced in April, but the Army postponed the ceremony, usually held in June as the nation responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to a socially distanced crowd of awardees, McConville said the officers went through a rigorous process to earn the award and were the best company-grade leaders from across the total Army.
"You have been selected out of all of your peers because you represent the best of our Army, and you represent the ideals of Duty, Honor, and County," he said.
"You represent an elite group of Soldiers who have been identified as the top leaders in the Army today. I'm very proud of each of you and know that you are living up to the legacy of those who've gone before you."
McConville said that great leaders possess the three "Cs" of leadership: competence, commitment and character.
"I see these three C's as nonnegotiable in leadership," he said. "If you are going to lead, you have to be competent, and you must know your job, and you must do your job. You have to be totally committed — totally committed to your troops and have a passion for what you do. You have to have character because we have to be able to trust you, that you are going to do the right thing and the right way."
The general added the fourth C to leadership — care.
"We need leaders that care about their people," he said. "When I'm talking about their people, I'm talking about their Soldiers, their families, and their civilians."
As part of the leadership equation, McConville said the best leaders not only require a high level of intelligence quotient or IQ. They also should have an emotional quotient, or EQ, to inspire their people to do incredible things in the Army.
"The best leaders have both, they are competent, and they have IQ, and they also have EQ, and they care for their people," he said. "As you move up higher in leadership positions, the IQ becomes less important, and the EQ becomes more important because that's what the best leaders have.
Once McConville finished speaking, each awardee picked up their 15-pound bronze bust of Gen. MacArthur mounted on a walnut plaque and bumped elbows with the general.
Two of the officers selected were Army Reserve officers from the 335th Signal Command (Theater): Maj. Erika Alvarado, from the U.S. Army Reserve Cyber Protection Brigade and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kenya Rice, with the 335th Signal Command (Theater) (Provisional).
Alvarado, who attended the event in person, was the first to walk across the stage and receive Gen. MacArthur's bust.
"To be nominated and selected to receive the MacArthur award is an incredible honor and speaks volumes of the Officers and NCOs who have helped mentor and shape into a better officer," said Alvarado. "It is a highlight in my career, and I hope to live up to the legacy of previous recipients."
Rice, who is deployed and unable to attend the ceremony, was the Army Reserve's sole warrant to be nominated and receive the award.
She watched the livestream of the ceremony and shared Alvarado's sentiment about the award via email.
"I'm honored to have been nominated for such a prestigious award," she said. "It showed me your leadership is always watching, always, even more so when you don't realize it."
Rice said she didn't know about the nomination until her previous commanding general, Brig. Gen. Dion Moten announced she was the only Warrant Officer in the Army Reserve to win.
She said it was a humbling experience and that she hopes her sons follow her example. "I always tell my boys, 'Do what's right, even when no one is looking.' I try to emulate that for them every day, both personally and professionally. "
Maj. Gen. John Phillips, 335th Signal Command (Theater) commanding general, also watched the ceremony's livestream and echoed McConville's sentiment.
"It's an honor to have two of our Soldiers selected for the MacArthur Leadership Award," said Phillips. "Chief Rice is the only warrant officer from the Army Reserve selected for this honor, which speaks volumes about her abilities. Maj. Alvarado and Chief Rice represent the best young officers in the Army and embody my philosophy of competence, commitment, and character."