YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — After all the handshakes and congratulations were over, the two 8th Army winners of the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award finally were able to congratulate each other.
“I’m really happy you won,” Warrant Officer 1 Jayson Lowery told Capt. Crystal Hills.
“I knew you would win,” Hills responded.
Both officers were picked by a panel of colonels Friday as the 8th Army representatives for the MacArthur, which recognizes outstanding military performance, leadership and achievement among company-grade and junior warrant officers.
The award also recognizes each officer’s commitment to “duty, honor, and country,” said 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell before the winners were announced.
“It is more than a personal accolade,” Campbell said. “It is a professional acknowledgment of your leaders that you are very special.”
Hills and Lowery were picked from a group of 13 officers, all of whom had been nominated by their commands.
On Friday, they each had individual interviews with 8th Army colonels before the final selections were made.
“I know how difficult that must have been,” Campbell said before the winners were announced. “And I know how uplifting that must have been” to interview the finalists, he added.
Hills, 28, of Charleston, S.C., and Lowery, 30, of Crestview, Fla., both are assigned to the 23rd Area Support Group at Camp Humphreys.
Hills joined the Army seven years ago and now coordinates support operations between her unit and the South Korean military.
In her last assignment, she was company commander of the 348th Quartermaster Company at Humphreys, overseeing more than 100 soldiers for 18 months.
Lowery has been in the Army for 12 years, but he’s in his first assignment as a warrant officer. Now he troubleshoots problems with the information system that manages supplies for the Army in South Korea.
Hills now will compete against 23 other commissioned officers throughout the Army.
Lowery will compete against 15 other warrant officers. The results of the contest are due in May.
Two years ago, Capt. Gilbert F. Deimel was the Armywide winner. At the time, he was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Infantry Division, 8th Army.