Vaughn R. Larson
Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs
One of the seven National Guard recipients of the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award — which recognizes company-grade officers who embody the ideals of duty, honor and country — spent most of his military career in the enlisted ranks.
Capt. Ron Adams of Milwaukee, who commands the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, said his two decades as an enlisted Soldier has proven invaluable.
“I have a unique perspective as an officer,” Adams explained. “I have served in just about every rank and leadership position as anyone in my unit, and understand their needs and challenges.”
Adams has served in the military for more than 26 years, the last 22 in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. He is a Desert Storm veteran, and has worked as a readiness noncommissioned officer for a field artillery battery in Milwaukee, a leader in the early days of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s recruit sustainment program, and the state equal opportunity and diversity officer. Having practical experience as both an enlisted and commissioned Soldier has helped him prioritize Soldier care and family support, while still requiring excellence in accomplishing the mission.
“I believe I was selected for this award because it considers the whole person,” he said. “No matter my role — to follow or to manage the work of others — I believe I must always think and act as a leader.”
Adams also credits his father, Willie James Adams, for instilling the characteristics at a young age that have shaped his military career. Capt. Adams was 10 when his father died, so these lessons were learned by observation rather than lecture or preaching.
“Watching him as a young boy, I learned that leadership requires self-discipline, righteous action, pure motives and extraordinary selflessness,” he said. “I work hard to hold myself accountable to the same high standards my father held himself to.”
Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, deputy adjutant general for Army, expressed his pride in Adams’ selection for the award.
“Of course, while I am personally very happy for him, I am not surprised,” Anderson said. “He is a tremendously gifted and capable officer and young leader, professional in every manner. While this award recognizes his demonstrated leadership, I personally believe it is more a reflection of the bright future Capt. Adams has in serving with the Wisconsin Army National Guard and the U.S. Army.”
Adams was thankful for support from past and present military leaders, from Soldiers and community leaders, and from his wife and children.
“I’m blessed that I get to share this with my entire family,” he said, “especially my wife Angela, who serves as a family readiness group leader, and my children, two of whom serve on our state’s youth advisory board. Their willingness to share in, and contribute to, this journey of service and leadership is why I dedicate this award to my family.”
Adams will receive the award during a formal ceremony at the end of May in Washington D.C.