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This Navy Cross recipient just won an award named for one of the baddest Marines ever

The Marines' top general selected Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony Viggiani as the next Hulbert Trophy recipient a decade after the gunner's leadership on the battlefield earned him the nation's second-highest valor award. Leadership on the battlefield earned then-Staff Sgt. Anthony Viggiani the Navy Cross in 2006. Ten years later, CWO3 Viggiani’s leadership in the classroom has earned him the Hulbert Trophy — an annual award that recognizes the infantry weapons officer who "most exemplifies outstanding leadership, courage, and technical, tactical, and doctrinal expertise within the Marine gunner community," according to award criteria.

Viggiani will receive the Gunner Henry Lewis Hulbert Trophy for Outstanding Leadership for his The prestigious award will be given in recognition of Viggiani’s contributions at to Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, where he trainsed Marines responsible for the men who will creating train the next generation of Marine infantrymen. The annual accolade is presented to the infantry weapons officer who "most exemplifies outstanding leadership, courage and technical, tactical and doctrinal expertise within the Marine gunner community," according to the award criteria. 

The Hulbert Trophy is named for Capt. Henry Lewis Hulbert, a prior-enlisted Medal of Honor recipient who served in Samoa and World War I and is considered the Marine Corps' first gunner. He was killed in action during the famed battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, France, on Oct. 4, 1918. Hulbert was 51 when he died, and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for actions in Chateau-Thierry, France, on June 6, 1918, when he "constantly" braved enemy fire "without regard for personal danger, thereby assuring the delivery of supplies."

Viggiani has earned top praise from staff noncommissioned officers and officers at SOI-West after he enhanced two dozen programs of instruction at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion.  is responsible for range operations and enhancing two dozen It was his job to enhance 24 programs of instruction at SOI-West. , or POIs, as well as range operations. His efforts won the repeated praise of staff noncommissioned officers and officers who comprise the three companies there.

Despite his hesitancy to talk about himself, Viggiani’s passion for his profession is evident almost tangible when he speaks of training the Corps' next infantrymen of tomorrow. His advice is direct: Know your craft, and learn from your leaders.

"There is no one thing that outweighs the other, especially when dealing with the techniques, tactics and procedures," Viggiani told Marine Corps Times said. "Amateurs train until they get it right; professionals train until they can’t get it wrong. Never stop learning your craft. This is a profession, not a job."

Sgt. Anthony Viggiani, of Strongsville, Ohio, a squad leader with Charlie Co., Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, passes order to his Marines during a village assessment in the Oruzgan province. BLT 1/6 is the ground combat element of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), and is in Afghanistan conducting combat and civil military operations.
Sgt. Anthony Viggiani, of Strongsville, Ohio, a squad leader with Charlie Co., Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, passes order to his Marines during a village assessment in the Oruzgan province. BLT 1/6 is the ground combat element of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), and is in Afghanistan conducting combat and civil military operations.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony Viggiani, shown here as a sergeant, is the recipient of the 2015 Gunner Henry Lewis Hulbert Trophy for Outstanding Leadership. Viggiani earned the Navy Cross for heroism during a 2004 deployment to Afghanistan.

Photo Credit: Marine Corps

While many warrant officers go by the title "gunner," theat term is technically reserved for a handful of infantry weapons experts who bear the bursting bomb on their left collar. Though Viggiani stands among their venerated ranks, he used few words and much humility when speaking of himself. The career infantryman couched his actions as "just doing his job" and "doing what every other gunner would do."

Viggiani earned the Navy Cross for He never brought up his Navy Cross, which was earned for charging an enemy force well entrenched inside a cave in Afghanistan's Zabul province in 2004, Afghanistan. An 0311 sergeant at the time, he moved across exposed ground under a hail of machine gun fire to attack a team that had pinned down his squad and wounded two of his Marines. He took out three fighters, which allowed his company to continue their advance up to the rugged ridgeline.

Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Viggiani, a drill instructor with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, is congradulated by Brig. Gen. Richard T. Tryon, commanding general, MCRD Parris Island/Eastern Recruiting Region, and Sgt. Maj. Robert C. Hollings, Depot sergeant major, upon receiving the Navy Cross, during recruit graduation Feb. 24, for gallant actions in Afghanistan. Photo by: Cpl. Maryalice Leone
Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Viggiani, a drill instructor with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, is congradulated by Brig. Gen. Richard T. Tryon, commanding general, MCRD Parris Island/Eastern Recruiting Region, and Sgt. Maj. Robert C. Hollings, Depot sergeant major, upon receiving the Navy Cross, during recruit graduation Feb. 24, for gallant actions in Afghanistan. Photo by: Cpl. Maryalice Leone

Then-Staff Sgt. Anthony Viggiani is awarded the Navy Cross while serving as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

Photo Credit: Cpl. Mary Alice Leone/Marines

Though shot in the leg, Viggiani continued to lead his Marines in the subsequent attack, which ultimately silenced 14 enemy fighters.

In 2011, This attitude is not new. Fellow students and leadership at The Basic School honored that vigor by awarding Viggiani was also awarded the Mustang Spirit Award when he graduated from The Basic School. That award is presented to the prior-former enlisted Marine who best displays leadership and esprit de corps.

When contacted for this story, Viggiani said serving as affirmed that a squad leader, platoon sergeant and company gunny helped him hone his tactical skills and informed the leadership skills he now instills in others. He spoke at length about his fellow Marines, and cherished time spent with retired Gunner Gilbert Bolton, who at one time was the Corps’ last true bursting-bomb gunner and kept the program alive while he advocated its return. In fact, he credits winning the Hulbert Trophy award to Marines who've influenced his career along the way with whom he has served throughout the years.

"I would not be here without the support of my family, as well as the staff NCOs and officers at SOI and throughout my career," said Viggiani, who has deployed to Afghanistan three times, served at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, and on the drill field at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina; and is a veteran of three deployments to Afghanistan. He The Strongsville, Ohio native has also served as a gunner in one infantry and two training battalions and now has orders to Infantry Officer Course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. He found out on April 13 that he had won the Hulbert Trophy while waiting for movers to arrive at his house.

"As expected, the competition was exceptionally keen," Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in his comments accompanying the official announcement. "All nominees had exemplary records, which indicated noteworthy leadership, courage and technical and tactical expertise."

Lance M. Bacon is senior reporter for Marine Corps Times. He covers Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Marine Corps Forces Command, personnel / career issues, Marine Corps Logistics Command, II MEF, and Marine Forces North. He can be reached at lbacon@marinecorpstimes.com.

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