CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Capt. Christopher J. Bronzi says he’s not saying “aw, shucks” about receiving the Marine Corps’ Leftwich Trophy — given annually to a captain who shows outstanding leadership.
“It really did have a lot to do with the outstanding young Marines I had under me,” he said Monday in a telephone interview from his Camp Hansen office, where he now serves as battalion operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.
“This award is a reflection on them, too,” he said. “More than anything, this award is a testament to the quality of the young Marines we have doing a tough job in Iraq.”
The Leftwich Trophy is awarded annually to a Marine captain in the ground combat arms field. It is named for Lt. Col. William G. Leftwich, a recipient of the Navy Cross and the Silver Star who was killed in action in South Vietnam in November 1970.
Bronzi, 32, was commanding officer of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, during a seven-month deployment in Iraq. From February to September of 2004, the company conducted operations in the city of Ar Ramadi.
“We were in the Sunni Triangle,” Bronzi, of Poughquag, N.Y., said. “It was the most violence-prone province in Iraq. We had almost daily contact of some sort with the insurgents.”
He said his men “always gave better than they got.”
“We learned we had to fight and win with what we were carrying on our backs,” Bronzi said. “We couldn’t always depend on calling for backup.
“The young men I commanded were very tenacious, relentless. They had a tremendous fighting spirit. I was very impressed with them.
“I knew going in they’d be good — they’re Marines. But I had to marvel at how resilient they were. I was in awe at what these young guys did.”
While Bronzi credits his Marines for the “humbling” honor he received, his Marines throw it right back at him.
“Captain Bronzi’s number-one priority has always been his Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Winston Jaugan, according to a Marine press release.
Jaugan, who served with Bronzi in Iraq as the company gunnery sergeant, said Bronzi’s leadership inspired the Marines under his command.
“He is the best company commander I’ve ever served with,” Jaugan said. “I would love to serve in combat with him again. He never hesitates. He never once lost control of his company, even while under heavy fire.”
Bronzi, in his 10th year as a Marine, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He said he’s always wanted to be an infantry officer and credits other officers under whom he’s served with making him the leader he has become.
“Every battalion commanding officer I’ve had has been a great example,” he said.
Bronzi recently returned from the Philippines, where he took part in training with Philippine marines during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2006. He is scheduled to leave Okinawa in a few weeks for Camp Pendleton, Calif., where his wife, Amy, and children are waiting.