Minnesota National Guard member to receive national leadership award

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Derrien Meixell, a member of the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley-based Fox Company, 1st General Support Aviation Battalion of the 189th Aviation Regiment, was notified June 5, 2023, that he has been selected to receive the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.

The award recognizes company-grade commissioned and warrant officers who demonstrate the ideals for which General MacArthur stood for: duty, honor, and country. Each year only seven National Guard members, six commissioned officers, and one warrant officer, of the approximately 430,000 members across the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia receive this prestigious award. Recipients have demonstrated their dedication to the Army values, possess exceptional technical and tactical proficiency and have a well-developed understanding of their leaders, subordinates, and peers.

Meixell was nominated for this award by his commander, who commemorated his accomplishments at the company level. For example, during pre-mobilization, Meixell’s efforts directly improved company readiness levels from 6% to 88%, the highest of any National Guard air traffic company in 10 years. Before deployment, his unit completed an Army resource management survey, part of a safety program used to direct and guide commanders on how well their operations are running. To increase their percentage, Meixell led his unit to set up small operations for air traffic controllers to practice setting up their equipment and running through simulations to increase their readiness.

“Through his various leadership positions, Meixell has confidently and consistently articulated and created a training environment that is focused on the highest standards of proficiency and safety,” wrote Army Capt. Logan Benda, Meixell’s commanding officer.

In 2010 Meixell started his military career as an air traffic controller. In 2019 he became an air traffic control technician warrant officer.

As a young warrant officer, Meixell held numerous positions, such as platoon leader, safety officer, airfield manager and contract officer representative. In addition, Meixell held many of these positions simultaneously during his first deployment. During the deployment, he was responsible for working with many organizations, ensuring projects were complete assisting in the accomplishment of missions for his team.

“He has been commended for his ability to visualize the end-state and provide a road map that people can easily understand and follow,” wrote Benda.

When Meixell received the call from Army Col. Kevin O’Brien, the commander of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, notifying Meixell that he had received the award, he was surprised, proud, and shocked that he was nominated.

 “It brought a big smile to my face,” said Meixell.

“Some of the most important qualities that a leader should possess are dependability and open-mindedness,” noted Meixell, as he reflected on how he strives to continuously show these qualities. “…I want my team to know I will do my fair share of the work, follow through with them, and support them…while understanding there is no ‘right’ way or ‘one’ way to do a task.”

“His innate ability to empathize with the Soldier and recognize what drives them, that shapes the direction of any organization and achieves extraordinary results,” wrote Benda.

Meixell anticipates traveling to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. later this year where he and his fellow recipients will receive their awards from the Chief of Staff of the Army.

By 1st Lt. Kate Sulzle
Minnesota National Guard