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Maj Benjamin Middendorf Honored With Prestigious Leftwich Trophy
August 21, 2013
For award recipient Maj Benjamin Middendorf, leadership is earned. It doesn’t come from a rank stitched on an arm or pinned or a shoulder.
“I was nominated because of my peers and that’s humbling because peer leadership is a lot harder when they don’t have to follow you,” Middendorf said. “You want someone to follow you because of who you are as a man, not because of your rank, and that’s what I try to do.”
Middendorf is the recipient of this year’s prestigious LtCol William G. Leftwich, Jr. Trophy for Outstanding Leadership for his actions while deployed with Golf Co., 2d Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. Recipients must be active-duty Marine captains in the ground combat arms when nominated. Through personal example, they must set the standard that all other officers seek to emulate.
He accepted the award at the Marine Corps Association & Foundation’s 10th Annual Ground Awards Dinner on Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Arlington, Virginia.
“This award recognizes the hard work (my Marines) did,” Middendorf said. “They performed magnificently; I happened to be the guy in charge.”
The award is presented annually in memory of Navy Cross recipient LtCol William G. Leftwich, USMC, killed in action when his helicopter crashed in the Republic of Vietnam on Nov. 18, 1970.
“(Leftwich) really epitomized the very best of who we are as Marine officers and I wanted to make sure if I led Marines in combat to do it to the best of my abilities, and that’s what Leftwich stood for,” Middendorf said.
It’s a namesake that hits home for Middendorf. His father served in the Marine Corps for four years and fought in Vietnam.
“It really meant a lot to me being that (Leftwich) died in Vietnam, because that’s where my dad was and it gave me a tie back to those guys,” Middendorf said. “They gave everything for their country, even when (the war) wasn’t supported.”
His father was a profound influence on Middendorf’s childhood and his decision to serve in the Marine Corps. He originally enlisted in the National Guard at 17 years old as an infantryman for one year before attending West Point. Before he graduated, he applied and was accepted for an interservice transfer to the Marine Corps.
“It’s because the Marines were always the best,” Middendorf said. “The Marines are going to be there and not always have the best equipment and we can always do a lot more with a lot less. It’s a healthy mantra especially given the times of today.”
To be the best, Middendorf stays up to date on the ever-changing Corps. He has been a member of the Marine Corps Association & Foundation since he attended The Basic School. He subscribes to the Marine Corps Gazette for its opinionated articles written by Marines about best practices in the Corps.
“If we consider ourselves professionals and we’re supposed to peer review and challenge the status quo, one very good place to do that is the Gazette,” Middendorf said. “I look forward to seeing what’s in there every month for thought-provoking things. It’s important as professionals and as Marines because the costs are just too high not to.”
Middendorf said it was “reinvigorating” to attend the MCA&F dinner with General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, as the guest speaker. At his table sat 12 stars, he said, and an estimated 90 years of combined experience in the Corps. The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, SgtMaj Micheal Barrett, assisted the Commandant on stage with the award presentations.
Award ceremonies like these are important to encourage competition and publically award excellence in the Marine Corps. Those qualities are integral to earning respect and leadership from peers.
“Marines epitomize excellence and when you’re recognized for going above that and stand out among your peers, it continues to push the rest of us to do more and be better every single day and do justice to the Marines under our charge,” Middendorf said.
It is ALWAYS a pleasure to work with a consummate professional such as SgtMaj (Ret.) Frank Pulley. As the company 1stSgt for Hotel Company, MCT, SOI (West), I’ve attended a number of his briefs and one can visually see a positive change in the student’s attention levels as the SgtMaj delivers his presentation. The SgtMaj truly cares about the Marines and the Marine Corps and represents the MCA in an extremely admirable manner. It has been my experience that all Marines (including myself) benefit from the experience of attending a MCA presentation. And regardless of rank or years of experience, Marines should always seek to increase their level of proficiency and knowledge and MCA briefs provide us with that opportunity.
1stSgt Scott Burton
You have been the easiest person I have ever dealt with since I have started MWR out here. You were very quick to respond to my every question and very knowledgeable about your work for an order over a phone that was my greatest experience. If you were in the Marine Corps Skylar I would write you up for a meritorious promotion. I will surely write it in my books to pass the word to the next MWR rep to continue the membership with you guys.
Sgt Richard Colmenarez
I just wanted to say thanks so much for making sure the uniform got back
to me in time for my commissioning class's photo. It fits me well and I am so excited for commissioning which takes
place in 17 hours! Thank you again!
MIDN Judith U Kastner
I received them this morning. Thank you so much for your help! you guys are awesome and you will have my business for any uniform or military need in the future as well as a hearty recommendation via word of mouth to anyone who wonders where they should purchase uniforms from!
My Name is Sergeant Major Juan. M. Hidalgo, Sergeant Major of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) out of Camp Pendleton, CA. Sergeant Major (Ret.) Frank Pulley is one of my mentors and is someone that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. The MCA and SgtMaj Pulley do a phenomenal job in helping us recognize our Marines and Sailors and they continually demonstrate that they are always more than ready to support; anytime...Anyplace! And on behalf of the entire 13th MEU, I thank you very much!
Sergeant Major Juan. M. Hidalgo
I received my Dress Blues I ordered from The Marine
Shop in the mail today. And I just wanted to write and tell everyone there
that you all did a great job! Everyone from the tailors, to the customer
service reps. I am highly impressed with the quality and tailoring of your
uniforms. I will definitely keep coming back to The Marine Shop in the
future for uniforms!
Congratulations. You are more responsive and informative than any other website contact I can recall. I appreciate that very much. It’s really nice to have someone like you at the MCA “front door.”
W. A. Reed King George, VA
Thank you so much for taking the extra time and making the extra effort
to ship another hat to me for my husband last week. The second hat
arrived last Thursday... and he was tickled with it. Although it may be
"only a hat" it is a very special hat in many ways. He will always be a
proud Marine dad, and your kindness is very much appreciated.
Just a quick note of thanks to Patty Everett. I arrived home from a week vacation to find a package from the Marine Corps Association. I was expecting to find one of the magazines I requested, however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover both magazines were inside. In a time when it seems no one cares about customer satisfaction I am gratified to discover that customer service is not a lost art at the MCA. Once again I thank you for your efforts on my request. It may have been thing but the effort made a huge impression.
Randall E Page
I want to relay my many thanks to everyone at Marine Corps Association and Military Historical Tours for providing me the opportunity to experience such a wonderful trip to Russia. Had I not won this trip through MCA I may have never taken advantage of such fantastic travels. The group, the Russian Tour guide (Oleg Alexandrov) and Charlie Dunn were wonderful companions during the trip. It will be a memory I will cherish all of my remaing days on this earth.
Again, Many thanks and Semper Fidelis!
1stSgt Bradshaw, USMC (Ret.)
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