V16 officer receives award for outstanding leadership
23 Apr 2020

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.— Setting the example is one of the Marine Corps leadership principles. For Marine Corps Maj. Joseph F. Albano, setting the example is more than just a principle; it is a way of life.

            Albano, the former company commander of Golf and Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (V16), 2d Marine Division (MARDIV), and a Dalton, Massachusetts native, was announced as the Lt. Col. William G. Leftwich Jr. Trophy for Outstanding Leadership via All-Marine Message 005/20, April 14, 2020.

            The Lt. Col. William G. Leftwich Jr. Trophy is an annual award given to company commanders who possess characteristics that exemplify outstanding combat arms leadership. It is named after Lt. Col. William G. Leftwich Jr. who served as the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division commanding officer during the Vietnam War, and was killed in action November 18, 1970.

“I think the most important thing a leader can do is to lead by example,” said Albano. “To model the behaviors and attitudes you want your people to demonstrate, you have to live it and it will eventually catch on. Teach, show, do.”

Selection for the trophy consists of a nomination process involving recommendations from superior leaders, subordinates, and peers. The final selection was made by Gen. David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, on April 14, 2020.

“We nominated (then) Capt. Albano because he performed far beyond expectations in a number of demanding and high profile situations,” said Lt. Col. Chris Niedziocha, the Commanding Officer of V16, 2d MARDIV. “He commanded two companies, executed two service level exercises (Mountain Exercise and Integrated Training Exercise) and prepared Weapons Company and the battalion’s fire support team leaders and Fire Support Coordination Center for ITX and deployment. Any one of those is an accomplishment. Doing all that, and to the high standard that he does everything to, is a real accomplishment.”

Being recognized is no small feat. The winner is recognized at the Marine Corps Association and Foundation Ground Awards Dinner, an annual event in which the Corps’ top infantry leaders are awarded for superior performance and accomplishments. The Leftwich Trophy goes to the company commander who has most significantly contributed to the infantry community.

“As expected, the competition was exceptionally keen,” said Berger in the All-Marine Message. “All nominees had exemplary records which indicated noteworthy leadership and command ability.”

Although he is the recipient of a high honor, Albano remains humble. He realizes there were many involved in making him successful and admits it was a team effort.


            “If I had to describe what winning this award means to me I would say I’m proud,” said Albano. “I’m proud not because it’s me who gets the recognition—but because I never would be in this position had it not been for everything the Marines and Sailors I served with gave along the way.”

            Albano is coincidentally one of two Marines with V16 who received awards for outstanding leadership. The other is Chief Warrant Officer 3 James B. Archbell, Battalion Gunner of V16, 2d MARDIV, who was selected as the Calendar Year 2019 Gunner Henry Lewis Hulbert Trophy for Outstanding Leadership.

            “It’s a great honor just to be the nomination from your battalion, let alone a finalist or awardee,” said Albano. “The Trophy is important because it is one way we as a service can reward the types of behaviors, attributes and character we want our leaders and Marines to embody through their actions.”

            Albano acknowledged his experience as a company commander was one of the most challenging parts of his career – a challenge which allowed him to work closely with the Marines under his charge to set, work for, and achieve common goals.

            “You have an immense responsibility for the development, employment, and well-being of about 180 Marines and Sailors,” said Albano. “We went through a lot together during our large training events and seeing my Marines push through and achieve our goals during that was one of the most rewarding moments in my career.”

            Albano was recently promoted to the rank of Major and currently serves as the V16 operations officer. He hopes to continue his career so that he can lead and mentor Marines.

            “I want my Marines to know they all have the ability to choose who they are as people and leaders,” said Albano. “There are things that are out of our control and one thing that is within your span of control is how you respond. You have the choice, so do the right thing.”