Two Citadel cadets were honored on Feb. 17 with the General Douglas MacArthur Cadet of the Year Award and the distinguished Society of the Cincinnati Medal.
The General Douglas MacArthur Foundation presents the MacArthur Cadet of the Year Awards to the most outstanding cadets from the 12 colleges and universities comprising the Association of Military Colleges and Schools. This year, Cadet Col. Brandon Johnson was given this prestigious award. Johnson has been the definition of an exemplary cadet, serving as the regimental commander for the Corps of Cadets. He is a supply chain management major from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, who earned Dean’s List, Gold Stars, President’s List and Commandant’s List multiple times. Johnson exhibited superior leadership and bearing throughout his cadet career, holding leadership positions of increasing importance each year. Upon graduation, Johnson plans to stay in the area and pursue a career in the maritime logistics industry.
“It’s an honor to receive the MacArthur Cadet of the Year Award. I’ve seen people get this award every year since I was a knob, so it’s a great feeling. It’s rewarding to see my work for The Citadel and myself pay off. This is a leadership award, and that’s what I do every day here and the work I put in is embodied in what this award stands for and what General MacArthur stood for,” said Johnson. “I think I’ve had a big impact on the Corps and The Citadel as a whole, through mentorship and leadership to every cadet. I’ve also been able to have a larger impact here because of my position.”
The objective of the General Douglas MacArthur Cadet of the Year Award is to encourage the students of the member institutions to emulate the qualities exemplified by General Douglas MacArthur when he was a cadet at the West Texas Military Institute and the United States Military Academy at West Point. The award is given to the senior class cadet at each of the schools with the most soldierly performance with consideration for academics, athletics and leadership in accordance with the standards of each respective institution.
“I want to thank my parents, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here in the first place. And I want to thank the entire Commandant’s department, especially Col. Tom Gordon because he’s my main mentor and I’ve learned so much from him on how to lead your peers and be a leader in general. And most importantly, all my friends and fellow cadets because they’re the ones who always push me to be better and better and give me the opportunity to get an award like this,” said Johnson.
The Medal of the Society of the Cincinnati Award bears the name of a Roman farmer, Cincinnatus, who left his farm to take up arms and fight for his city. A successful general, he was an acclaimed dictator, but chose instead to return to civilian life. The officers who served in the Continental Army formed the Society. Their charter members included George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Marquis De Lafayette. The South Carolina chapter, established in 1783, is one of the six original state societies that have been in continuous existence since that time.
The Society of the Cincinnati is given every year to the senior cadet officer who best exemplifies the combined qualities of a good soldier and good citizen, characteristics that were evident in the patriots who fought to win American’s freedom. This year’s award was given to Cadet Lt. Col. Thomas Blake Giles.
“I am extremely humbled to receive this tremendous recognition and distinguished honor. It means so much to me and my family, as military service in my family dates all the way back to 1693. The Society of the Cincinnati provides a living link with the American Revolution, and I am extremely grateful for their commitment to preserving the rights and liberties that our founders fought for. I had several family members, fifth great grandfathers, who fought in the Revolution — this personal connection makes this award such an immense honor,” said Giles.
Giles, a civil engineering major from Columbia, South Carolina, has demonstrated exceptional performance in academics, athletics and leadership. Giles has been on the Dean’s List, Gold Stars, President’s List and Commandant’s List multiple times while at The Citadel. He also served as the Junior Sword Arch Commander and member of the Summerall Guards. Giles is the Fourth Battalion commander and is a four-year naval contract.
Giles served in multiple leadership positions as a cadet. His superior performance, initiative and leadership exemplify the ideals of the Society of Cincinnati. Giles will join other recipients of this award on the plaque located in the entrance of Bond Hall. After graduation, Giles expects to attend flight school in Pensacola Beach, Florida, as part to his service in the U.S. Navy.
“The Citadel has offered me a unique and challenging opportunity to grow as a person and realize the most important attribute of leadership is taking care of the people around you. For that, I want to thank The Citadel administration and faculty, and the many mentors who have cared for me and coached me along life’s path. The accomplishments of the Class of 2023 may be one for The Citadel record books,” said Giles. “I especially want to thank my parents for their 22-plus years of faith-based love, support and encouragement. We are a Citadel family that believes in the value of service to our nation and community. Their example and the opportunities they have provided to me are immeasurable.”