Team Buckley Soldier receives Gen. MacArthur Leadership Award
By U.S. Army Sgt. Amy Christopherson, 704th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs
/ Published April 29, 2013
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred, many Americans were deeply affected and some were moved to serve their country.
Because he grew up in New York state, Capt. William Denn, III, commander of Alpha Company, 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 704th MI Brigade, found that the events made him more determined than ever to serve.
Denn, who received his acceptance letter to West Point dated Sept. 11, 2001, said he wasn't initially sure if the Army would be a career for him, but after his first couple of years he realized it would be.
"I grew to love the Army, and I realized how much I admired and respected the American Soldier," he said. "I love leading Soldiers in combat."
The intelligence officer, who once served as an M1A2 Abrams Tank platoon leader during a 15-month tour in Iraq, is a recipient of the General MacArthur Leadership Award.
This is given to company grade officers who demonstrate outstanding leadership characteristics and embody the ideals held up by Gen. Douglas MacArthur: duty, honor and country. Fewer than 30 officers receive this honor each year.
MacArthur, also a West Point graduate, was a Medal of Honor recipient who served as the Army's chief of staff during the 1930s.
The award is given for leadership demonstrated over the previous year. Among Denn's accomplishments this past year, his battalion commander describes his creating a new section within his unit, then taking company command and transforming the unit's morale.
"[Denn] improved his company's unit cohesion, established a solid family readiness group and injected energy and influence into the unit," said Lt. Col. Gary Hausman, commander of 743rd MI Bn., 704th MI Bde. "He leads his company in unorthodox physical fitness races including a Colorado mountain snowshoe climb."
Denn led his battalion's team at the 2013 Bataan Memorial Death March, a 26.2 mile march through the desert that honors the service members who defended the Phillipine Islands during World War II.
The commander is known to his first sergeant as a strong leader who values action over words. The first sergeant for A. Co., 743rd MI Bn., 1st Sgt. Damian Basehore, describes Denn as someone who sets the example for others to follow and is always out front leading the way for his company.
"Captain Denn is a relentless leader who only expects the best," said Basehore. "He pushes people hard to get things right - not letting anyone get by with just doing enough."
Denn has been accepted to attend graduate school at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., in the fall. He plans to earn his Master's degree in public policy and describes it as a good opportunity to expand his horizons before bringing his knowledge back to the Army and continuing to serve.
He stresses the importance of being humble and having humility in his leadership, learning from mistakes and remembering that subordinates may have a better idea.
"Leaders need to understand we're here to take care of our Soldiers, not to have our Soldiers take care of us," he said. "When Soldiers know that you care for them, they will work hard for you and take care of the unit's mission."
Denn said his leadership philosophy is always evolving as he learns and adapts to lessons learned. From his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said the biggest lesson he took away is the importance of staying calm and collected during stressful times.
"Soldiers are in tune with the emotions of their leaders," he said. "If leaders can stay calm, a unit will feed off of that impression, and usually that impression is given within the first couple of seconds. Soldiers will hear in a leader's voice how he will react to that situation."
Basehore describes his company commander as a trustworthy source for his Soldiers who listens to his NCOs even when they offer differing opinions.
"Capt. Denn is not afraid to make tough decisions and doesn't leave anyone guessing where they stand," Basehore said. "If you make a mistake, or aren't meeting his expectations, he lets you know immediately and doesn't sugar coat it. He then takes the time to clearly articulate what it is he's looking for and helps you get there. I can think of no better junior officer that I've come across during my career."
The 743rd MI Bn. is a base partner on Buckley Air Force Base.