William G. Leftwich Jr.
Class of 1949
In January 1965 Major Leftwich was assigned to duty as the Assistant Senior Advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Brigade. After being reassigned to Task Force Alfa Major Leftwich participated in 27 major operations against the Viet Cong in the central highlands of Vietnam. These operations included the Battle of Hoai An on March 9, 1965 for which Major Leftwich was awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart.
Major Leftwich returned to the United States in January 1966, serving as an instructor at The Basic School. He then completed the Command and Staff College in June 1967 and was named to the Schools Honor List. Assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in November 1967.
In April 1970, LtCol Leftwich returned to Vietnam commanding the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. On September 13, he assumed Command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.
On November 18, 1970 one of his reconnaissance teams requested an emergency extraction after incurring casualties in an enemy-infested area. As was his practice LtCol Leftwich acted as "senior extract officer” during the mission. Despite encountering dense fog the team was extracted under LtCol Leftwich’s personal supervision but as the helicopter began its ascent, it crashed into a mountainside. Everyone aboard was killed in action.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have honored the memory of LtCol Leftwich with the commissioning In 1978, of the destroyer USS Leftwich (DD-984).
Other honors include establishment in June 1979 of the Leftwich Trophy for Outstanding Leadership and a monument sculpted by Felix de Weldon which stands at Camp Barrett, Marine Corps Base Quantico.
LtCol Leftwich's military awards include the Navy Cross, The Silver Star, The Legion of Merit with 2 award stars and valor device, The Air Medal, and three Purple Hearts.
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