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Superior native honored at the Pentagon for National Guard service

Wisconsin National Guard Capt. Bill Barthen was one of seven Army National Guard officers presented with the MacArthur Leadership Award from the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation during a ceremony at the Pentagon on May 7.

Soldier award
Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff, presents Wisconsin National Guard Capt. Bill Barthen with the MacArthur Leadership Award at the Pentagon May 7. Barthen was among seven National Guard officers recognized as demonstrating the ideals that Gen. Douglas MacArthur himself stood for - duty, honor and country. (Submitted photo)

Wisconsin National Guard Capt. Bill Barthen was one of seven Army National Guard officers presented with the MacArthur Leadership Award from the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation during a ceremony at the Pentagon on May 7.

Barthen, a Superior native, is a training officer with the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion in Portage, Wis. At the time of his nomination, he was serving as the executive officer for the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team rear detachment, where he was responsible for personnel, operations and training, logistics and supply issues at the brigade level.

He also coordinated with battalion-level officers and non-commissioned officers concerning those issues. He recently commanded Company E, 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation.

Barthen has served more than 16 years in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, and has deployed twice in the global war on terror. He volunteered to deploy with the Louisiana Army National Guard from August 2004 to October 2005, where he served on a Military Transition Team that trained the Iraqi Army in Baghdad. Barthen deployed again, this time as an executive officer with Troop E, 105th Cavalry, Wisconsin Army National Guard, to conduct convoy security missions out of Logistical Support Area Anaconda near Baghdad from June 2007 to June 2008.

The MacArthur Award recognizes company-grade officers like Barthen who demonstrate the ideals the retired general stood for - duty, honor, country. Barthen joins three recent Wisconsin Guard officers - Capt. Douglas Kolb, 2007; Capt. Josephine (Jerome) Daniels, 2006; and Capt. Scott Southworth, 2005 - who also earned the award. Each year, only seven National Guard soldiers are chosen for the national honor, along with seven from the Army Reserve and 14 from the active Army.

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"It's awfully humbling to receive this award," said Barthen, a 1994 graduate of Superior High School. "Just being nominated was huge, in and of itself, and I was quite shocked to learn I was the nominee for the state of Wisconsin."

Leadership is what it will take to get the Army through the challenges of the 21st Century, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, said during the ceremony.

"The one thing that rings clear to us is that it's going to take leadership and leaders of character and competence to chart our way through the challenges," he said.

"All of these award winners have demonstrated the tremendous quality that we're privileged to have in our Army today."

Guard award recipients say they stuck to the basics, and didn't believe they had done anything beyond what the Army asked of them.

"The basic Army values and warrior ethos that you learn at basic training and [advanced individual training] is what makes [a good leader]," Barthen said. "It sounds simple, but it's very difficult to live these values - incorporate them into who you are, and then exude that amongst your soldiers, admit your faults when wrong, and always do what's right and move forward." Casey told award recipients they embody the spirit that our country will need to lead it forward in the decades ahead.

Barthen said he is not trying to be the best leader.

"I'm just trying to do what's right by my soldiers all the time," he said. "Apparently, in the end, they appreciate that and the leadership appreciates that I do that too."

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