Jim Carney

Army Capt. Michael Kelvington on Thursday joined a select group of 14 active-duty soldiers to win a prestigious military award for leadership.

Kelvington, a Springfield High School graduate, was presented the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

He has completed five combat deployments — one in Iraq and four in Afghanistan — and finished what he called an “especially hard” tour in Afghanistan last year with Battle Company, 1-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Kelvington said the award, for actions in 2012, is not reflective of him but of the people with whom he served.

In the wake of Memorial Day, Kelvington said his thoughts went to all those he served with during the last deployment, especially those who died during that tour: Cpl. Ben Neal, 21, of Orfordville, Wis.; Spc. Sam Watts, 20, of Wheaton, Ill.; and Spc. Jarrod Lallier, 20, of Spokane, Wash.; and trusted Afghan friend, Gulam Dasteger.

“I am here to represent those paratroopers,” said Kelvington, 30, now a staff officer for 2nd Ranger Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

The Army prides itself on growing leadership from within its ranks, said Army spokesman Hank Minitrez, “and Capt. Kelvington is certainly a shining example of success. Among the thousands of entries, he and 27 others were identified as exemplary examples of having what it takes to be entrusted with caring for and leading soldiers through challenging times. Those who know him should be proud.”

Minitrez said Kelvington, a 2005 West Point graduate, is the only Ohioan in the group of 28 honorees that also included seven National Guard and seven Reserve soldiers.

Thursday marked the 26th annual MacArthur Award recognition ceremony, Minitrez said.

“Throughout a broad spectrum of positions, these officers displayed true commitment to Army values, unequaled technical and tactical competence, a mature understanding of their leaders, subordinates and peers,” he said.

Each recipient received a 15-pound bust of MacArthur.

“Gen. ?MacArthur was a tremendous athlete, scholar, leader and soldier,” Minitrez said. “He’s legendary, and for these officers to have their names mentioned along with his says a great deal about them.”

Kelvington’s family, including parents Sharon and Earl Kelvington, owners of Kelvington Auto Service in Akron, and brother Navy Lt. Luke Kelvington, attended the ceremony.

His wife, Meg, who is expecting the couple’s second child soon, was unable to attend.

Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.