By 2nd Lt. April Hawes, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs
ARLINGTON, VA. (06/09/2011)(readMedia)-- In May, Capt. Elizabeth Roxworthy traveled to Washington, D.C., with her family to receive the nationally-recognized General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. Her detailed nomination packet showed she earned the award for her care and compassion for her Soldiers, which continued even after the award presentation.
Before they left the nation's capitol, she and her fiancé, Maj. Wyatt Bickett, both of Lake in the Hills, went to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the grave of fallen Illinois National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco of Bartlett. Roxworthy never met Grieco nor was she in his chain of command. She does, however, wear the same uniform and said it was fitting to find his headstone and pay respect to him.
Along with Grieco, who was killed in action Oct. 27, 2008 while in Afghanistan with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery in Sycamore, there was another fallen Illinois National Guardsman on Roxworthy's mind: Sgt. Simone Robinson of University Park, who died March 1, 2009 after injuries sustained in Afghanistan with Company G, 634th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) in Crestwood.
"Throughout this entire process, the one person I think of daily is Sgt. Simone Robinson. Her sacrifice, and the sacrifice of all of our fallen comrades, is what really drives me to be a better person and leader for my Soldiers," said Roxworthy, who is assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 634th BSB in Sullivan. "It's hard to put into words, but her sacrifice changed my life more than anyone will ever know and this award is a tribute to Simone."
After a tour in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, Roxworthy was assigned as the rear commander of Company G, 634th and served in Crestwood while Robinson and the majority of the company deployed to Afghanistan with the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). After Robinson was injured, Roxworthy supported her and her family until she ultimately passed away at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.
"What sets Capt. Roxworthy apart is that she truly cares about her Soldiers and her unit," said Col. Paul Hastings of Saint Charles and 33rd IBCT commander. "Her compassionate and involved approach to Soldier care is the foundation of who she is."
Hastings, who also won the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award in 1996, said this was evident again in November 2010 when she spent Thanksgiving Day at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Chicago. She was at the bedside of Sgt. Emiliano Perez, also with Company G. Perez was hospitalized due to a non-combat related condition and passed away the next day.
Roxworthy found out she won the award March 1, which recognizes company grade commissioned and warrant officers who demonstrate duty, honor and country; the same values MacArthur stood for. Roxworthy is the first female from Illinois to earn this award.
She was first nominated for the award by the then 634th BSB Commander Lt. Col. Eric Little, of Springfield and director of property and fiscal operations for the Illinois National Guard. He said Roxworthy's dedication to Soldiers, their families and her community is above her rank as a junior officer.
"The national award shows that what we nominated her for was true," Little said. "Her dedication and desire to ensure her Soldiers at the company level were taken care of was instrumental to the company's success."
Once winners are announced, they travel to Washington, D.C., for the presentation of the award by the Chief of the Staff of the Army. Roxworthy had the opportunity to be presented the award twice, by two different Chiefs of Staff.
Roxworthy was first presented the award at the Illinois Army National Guard's Senior Leadership Conference April 30 in Chicago by, now retired, Gen. George Casey. She then was officially presented the award during a ceremony at the Pentagon by Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chief of Staff of the Army. During the presentation she also met Lt. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard.
Along with Bickett, who is assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company of the 33rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion in Machesney Park, Roxworthy's parents and niece attended the ceremony and met Dempsey. Hastings and Lt. Col. Charles Kitson, of Springfield and current 634th BSB commander, also attended.
"It was such a wonderful experience; one that I will never forget. It was really neat to be able to bring my family there with me," Roxworthy said. "Everyone really paid tribute to recognizing us for the award; everyone from the battalion leadership all the way to the Army Chief of Staff."