The Leftwich Trophy commemorates the service and leadership of Lieutenant Colonel William G. Leftwich, Jr., who died in action on 18 November 1970, while serving in Vietnam as Commanding Officer of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

The award, first presented in June 1979 at the commissioning ceremony for the USS Leftwich, goes annually to the outstanding Marine captain serving with ground forces of the Fleet Marine Force at the time of nomination. The commanding generals of MARFORPAC and MARFORLANT each submit three nominations early in the year, and from the six highly qualified officers an annual Leftwich Trophy recipient is selected.

During his first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1965, LtCol Leftwich was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism during the battle of Hoai An. In April 1970, LtCol Leftwich began his second tour of duty in Vietnam. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for engineering a bold attack on a meeting of high-level enemy commanders on 4 August 1970, while commanding 2d Battalion, 1st Marines. On 13 September he assumed command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. LtCol Leftwich was killed 18 November 1970 in a helicopter crash during an emergency extraction of one of his reconnaissance teams. He made a practice of accompanying every emergency extraction and was serving as the senior “extract officer” on the day of his death.

The following lists all recipients of the Leftwich Trophy to date:

1979 Capt Clyde Brinkley Jr., 2d Battalion, 2d Marines

1980 Capt Charles R. Sherrill, 2d Tank Battalion

1981 Capt John Caldwell, 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU)

1982 Capt Dirk R. Ahle, 1st Marines

1983 Capt Ronald L. King, 3d Battalion, 12th Marines

1984 Capt Robert K. Dobson, Jr., 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, 22d MAU

1985 Capt Dennis J. Hejlik, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines

1986 Capt David W. Mauldin, 2d Battalion, 8th Marines

1987 Capt Paul E. Lefebvre, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines

1988 Capt John R. Allen, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines

1989 Capt James B. Laster, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines

1990 Capt Ronald F. Baczkowski, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines

1991 Capt Dennis M. Greene, 2d LAI Battalion

1992 Capt Michael L. Ettore, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines

1993 Capt Robert F. Castellvi, BLT 2/9, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)

1994 Maj Steven M. Zotti, BLT 1/6, 22d MEU

1995 Maj Jeffrey J. Sharrock, 3d MarDiv

1996 Capt Jeffrey J. Kenney, 2d Battalion, 2d Marines

1997 Maj Julian D. Alford, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines

1998 Capt Jason Q. Bohm, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines

1999 Capt Daniel M. Sullivan, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines

2000 Capt Jason L. Morris, BLT 1/5, 31st MEU

2001 Capt Michael D. Grice, 2d Battalion, 11th Marines

2002 Capt Farrell J. Sullivan, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines

2003 Capt Christeon C. Griffin, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines

2004 Capt Christopher J. Bronzi, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines

2005 Capt John W. Maloney (Deceased), 1st Battalion, 5th Marines

2006 Capt Matthew W. Tracy, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines

2007 Capt Jonathan R. Smith, BLT 2/4, 31st MEU

2008 Capt Jonathan B. Hamilton, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines

2009 Capt Christopher S. Conner, 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Marine Division

2010 Capt Timothy R. Sparks, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines

2011 Capt Casey M. Brock, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines

2012 Capt Benjamin M. Middendorf, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines

2013 Capt Christopher A. Ashinhurst, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division

2014 Maj Daniel E. Grainger, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines

2015 Capt Thomas W. Morrow, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines

2016 Capt David J. Palka, Task Force Spartan

2017 Capt Gregory M. Veteto, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines

2018 Capt Brian D. Coleman, Task Force Southwest, United States Services - Afghanistan