This year’s prestigious Leftwich Trophy went to a Marine Corps infantry officer who was the leader in a tense embassy-security in Iraq during the rise of the Islamic State.
In 2014, Maj. Daniel Grainger served as the commander of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines during deployment with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit that lasted close to nine months. While on standby in late-July, the then captain and his Marines were present to reinforce or evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Libya once security efforts began to weaken in Iraq.
“In true MEU fashion, we’re sitting on that mission when things started to heat up with ISIS in Syria in Iraq,” Grainger told Marine Corps Times.
Grainger and about 150 Marines arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in August to help strengthen security in the region since areas like Mosul and Tikrit were conquered by militants after they executed an offensive in northern Iraq.
Grainger was nominated for the award by Lt. Col. Paul Merida, the 6th Marine Regiment’s executive officer, who called his decision a “no-brainer.” According to Merida, Grainger “combines a strong command presence with a tireless work ethic.”
“Major Grainger’s Bravo Company was among the best, if not the best, rifle company I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of service,” he continued to say. “Great rifle companies have great rifle company commanders. …To say he was the best captain I’ve ever seen would not be an understatement.”
Grainger and his Marines were the first conventional infantry troops to reinforce the embassy in Iraq. Prior to relieving nearly 30 Marines who had been there since June, Grainger oversaw about 150 grunts from August to October.
As the current commanding officer of Recruiting Station Sacramento, Grainger oversees 100 Marine recruiters and 13 substations. He believes leading Marines is a humbling opportunity, but says he tries to learn something from everyone he serves with, regardless of their rank. He sees his leadership style as a compilation of everyone he’s ever worked with and says that’s why he likes to think of the Letfwich Trophy as a team award.
“It’s a recognition of the hard work, the commitment and the service of the Marines I was fortunate to lead there at Bravo Company 1/6,” Grainger said. “It’s too bad the award can’t recognize all of them, so I see it as symbolic of what they really did.”