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He was a paradigm of professional excellence, compassion and humility. According to all who knew him, they just don't come any better than John.
Honor & Remember Our American Hero
Captain John W. Maloney, USMC
Hometown: Chicopee, Massachusetts
At the age of three, the Maloney family moved to Chicopee where John was a graduate of Chicopee High School, Class of 1986. After graduation, John enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he spent most of his career filling positions in the infantry field. In 1996, John graduated from Colorado University and was commissioned an Officer. He faced combat situations in the Gulf War, Somalia and finally in Iraq. John committed over 18 years of his life to distinguished service to his country.
For the first time in the award’s 27-year history, the Marine Corps has bestowed the prestigious Leftwich Trophy for Outstanding Leadership to an officer who died in combat. Capt. John W. Maloney was killed June 16, 2005, when his Humvee was destroyed by a “massive bomb” as he led his infantrymen from the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, out of an ambush in a small town south of Ramadi, Iraq, according to his nomination. Maloney assumed command of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in July 2004.
“There are few officers who accomplish so much in such a short time in command,” wrote 1/5’s former commander, Lt. Col. Eric Smith. “This is simply a reflection of the efforts and abilities of an officer who, in my opinion, was not only made of the same stuff as Lt. Col. Leftwich, but who similarly sacrificed his life for his Marines.”
The Corps cited Maloney as the 2005 recipient of the Leftwich Trophy in an April 4 Corps-wide message, AlMar 015/06.
First awarded in June 1979 to Capt. Clyde S. Brinkley Jr., the Leftwich Trophy is intended to recognize active-duty captains in the ground combat-arms community holding company or battery command who “clearly and dramatically demonstrate the ideals of courage, resourcefulness, perseverance and concern for the well-being of our Corps and its enlisted Marines,” according to the criteria for the award.
Shortly after taking command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in Vietnam, Leftwich died in a helicopter crash during a Nov. 18, 1970, emergency extraction of his men from enemy-infested territory.
Maloney’s company was posted at one of the hottest combat outposts in Ramadi, capital of the volatile Anbar province in western Iraq, a notorious Sunni stronghold. The government center outpost in the heart of the city is the site of frequent insurgent attacks from rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and mortar fire. The parallels with Maloney’s actions and those of the award’s namesake were not lost on Smith when he recommended the fallen Maloney for the Leftwich. “Were we to replace a hot [landing zone] and a UH-1 [Huey] helicopter with an IED-infested sector of town and an armored Humvee, there would be no daylight between what these two great leaders gave to our Corps,” he wrote.
Awarding the trophy posthumously was somewhat controversial, Marine officials said, though rules governing the award do not rule out giving the trophy — which depicts a Vietnam-era Marine officer clutching an M16 in one hand, waving his men forward with the other — to a deceased Marine. Smith argued in his nomination for Maloney that the award of a Bronze Star with a combat “V” was done “to pay him tribute” for his heroism in Iraq.
Marine Capt. John W. Maloney died June 16, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom. Never Forget Marine Capt. John W. Maloney Always Remember