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Tank officer who led Marines in 5-day battle to receive Leftwich Trophy

Apr. 15, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
1st MarDiv CG awards '1st Tanks' Marines
Capt. Christopher Ashinhurst, center, commander of Delta Company, 1st Tanks, receives a Bronze Star with 'V' device from Maj. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commanding general of 1st Marine Division, in January. (Cpl. D. J. Wu/Marine Corps)
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A tank officer who led his company to victory in a five-day battle against insurgents in Afghanistan last year will be honored with the prestigious Leftwich Trophy later this year.

Capt. Christopher Ashinhurst, commander of Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion, out of Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., will receive the annual award that recognizes an outstanding Marine captain in the ground forces, the Marine Corps announced.

Ashinhurst was awarded the Bronze Star with combat valor device in January for exceptional bravery during a grueling fight against enemy forces that had surrounded and cut off a Marine special operations team at Village Stability Platform Shurakay in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Under Ashinhurst’s leadership, his company was able to kill 60 insurgents and disrupt the efforts of the enemy, according to his medal citation. Ashinhurst later led his company to the assistance of allies at Combat Outpost Shir Ghazay after the outpost had been attacked by a car bomb and breached by four enemy fighters, rendering aid to a Georgian soldier and organizing the transport of casualties to medical aid. He later maneuvered tanks around the COP to protect against further enemy attacks.

“His fearlessness in the face of the enemy and boldness of action inspired his men and those around him,” Ashinhurst’s summary of action read. “His unhesitating reaction assisted in breaking up the enemy follow-on attack, saved the life of at least one Georgian soldier, and secured the COP from follow-on attacks.”

The location and date of Ashinhurst’s award ceremony will be provided at a later date, according to the all-Marine message announcing his selection.

The Leftwich Trophy is named for Navy Cross recipient Lt. Col. William G. Leftwich Jr., who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1970 while supervising an emergency air extraction of one of his reconnaissance teams. The trophy has been awarded to an outstanding Marine captain each year since 1979.

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