John W. Maloney, Captain

Captain Maloney

Captain Maloney


november 22, 1968-june 16, 2005


Mustang Officer and Veteran of Gulf War, Somalia, and Iraq

Winner of Leftwich Trophy

(KIA the day after Cpl Trovillion- they were in the same Battallion)

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.

Maloney assumed command of Charlie Company less than three months before he was killed.

“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.”

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.”

The award is provided through a foundation established by H. Ross Perot, a Naval Academy roommate of Lt. Col. William Leftwich, for whom the trophy is named.

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.

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.

The trophy depicts a Vietnam-era Marine officer clutching an M16 in one hand, waving his men forward with the other.

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.

Maloney, 36, and Lance Cpl. Erik Heldt, 26, were killed when their Humvee struck an improvised explosive device. Three other enlisted Marines were badly burned.

Days earlier, Maloney led his Marines on a mission of mercy through the dangerous streets of Ramadi, Iraq, to take medical supplies to a struggling hospital.

Maloney's Marines and a squad of Army soldiers guided a slow-moving convoy through streets infested with snipers and hidden bombs to deliver more than $500,000 worth of supplies -- bandages, bedsheets, heart monitors, antibiotics, incubators and more -- to the Ramadi Maternity and Children's Hospital.

When the bomb exploded that June morning, Maloney and Heldt became the 23rd and 24th members of the One-Five -- as it is known -- to die in Iraq.

Maloney and Heldt, originally from Hermann, Mo., were returning from a patrol when their convoy was attacked. Maloney ordered his Humvee, the lead vehicle, to take a blocking position to keep the insurgents from reaching the main part of the force

By slowing the insurgents, Maloney allowed his Marines to position themselves for what turned out to be a two-hour firefight that routed the enemy.

"Because of what he did over there, I brought 150 Marines home," said Charlie Company 1st Sgt. Michael Brookman. "He'll be with me the rest of my life."

Three more One-Five Marines were killed before the battalion returned from its third tour in Iraq in October. Thirty-eight Marines in Charlie Company received Purple Hearts.

Maloney's widow, Michelle, received the Bronze Star with V for Valor, awarded posthumously to her husband for his leadership during 109 days of combat against heavily armed insurgents.

Lt. Col. Eric Smith, the battalion commander, pinned the brightly colored medal on the couple's son, Nathaniel, 6, while their daughter, McKenna, 2, looked on.

"He's had a hard time understanding why all the other daddies came home and his didn't," said the boy's grandmother, Linda Keil of Simi Valley. "But he's proud of his daddy, and he knows he gave his life for something he believed in."

Captain John William Maloney was born on November 22, 1968 in Los Angeles, CA. At the age of three, the Maloney's moved to Chicopee, MA, where John graduated from Chicopee High School in 1986.

At 17, John enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and reported to Parris Island, SC for Recruit Training in January 1987. After receiving a meritorious promotion to PFC on graduation, where he was assigned a MOS of 0341. From July 1987 through October 1988, he was assigned to Marine Barracks, Adak, AK. In November 1988, orders to 2/5 81mm mortar platoon.

He participated in 4 deployments while with 2/5: 2 to Okinawa, Japan, the Gulf War with 5th MEB, and finally actions in Somalia with the 11th MEU.

Captain Maloney was accepted to the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program in 1994 and chose the University of Colorado, Boulder. he was commissioned in August 1996. Upon graduating in the top 10% of his Basic School class, he attended Infantry Officers Course, Captain Maloney received orders to return to his roots at Second Battalion, Fifth Marines and reported for duty as the Weapons Platoon Commander, Golf Company.

On March 1, 2005, Captain Maloney deployed to Ramadi, Iraq and commanded C Co., 1/5 independently at the combat outpost Camp Snake Pit.