Mackay Trophy returns to AFSOC

A group photo from the Fall Awards Dinner at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Va. (Courtesy photo)

Members of Rooster 73 Flight pose for a group photo after being presented the 2013 Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious flight of the year at the National Aeronautic Association Fall Awards Dinner Nov. 5, 2014 in Arlington, Va. The crew earned the award for their heroic efforts to safely evacuate American citizens and provide medical care to the passengers who were critically injured when their CV-22 Osprey came under heavy enemy fire during the mission. (Courtesy photo)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Under heavy enemy fire Dec. 21, 2013, the crew of Rooster 73 performed expert aerial maneuvers while simultaneously providing medical care to the critically-injured passengers on board their CV-22 Osprey.

The 8th Special Operations Squadron crew’s heroic efforts during the flight resulted in the safe evacuation of American citizens from the remote city of Bor, South Sudan, and earned them the 2013 Mackay Trophy, which was presented during a ceremony Nov. 5.

In 1912, Clarence Mackay presented the first Mackay Trophy to then-2nd Lt. Henry H. ‘Hap’ Arnold for a reconnaissance competition flown over Virginia and later deeded it to the National Aeronautic Association. Administered by the U.S. Air Force and NAA, the trophy is awarded annually for the "most meritorious flight of the year" by an Air Force person, persons, or organization.

When awarded, the recipient’s name is engraved onto the trophy where it is then displayed at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Other notable Mackay Trophy recipients in the Air Force Special Operations Command include a 16th Special Operations Squadron AC-130H crew who received their award in 1990 for airmanship and outstanding professionalism during an aerial flight over the Republic of Panama during Operation Just Cause.

Another AFSOC MC-130H crew earned the Mackay Trophy in 1997 for overcoming hostile gunfire, three heavyweight air refuelings, and more than 13 hours flying 3,179 nautical miles to their objective. The crew successfully inserted a European survey and assessment team and extracted 56 people from the carnage and wanton violence in Brassaville, Republic of Congo. They achieved this goal while on the ground for less than 23 minutes.

"It's great to have the prestigious Mackay Trophy back in AFSOC. These crews earned it by performing flawlessly under extremely hostile conditions,” said Lt. Col. Travis Hill, 8th SOS commander. “I'm extremely proud of how they reacted; from the skills training and systems knowledge to the overall professionalism they displayed. It's an indication of the quality and level of excellence required by the crews we have in the CV-22 community and AFSOC."

After coordinating multiple air-to-air refuelings, the crews of Rooster 73 Flight successfully returned to Entebbe with the wounded still alive.

"Their dedication to duty, professionalism, bravery, courage and airmanship was on display during the aerial flight supporting a non-combatant evacuation order in the vicinity of Bor, South Sudan," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "The distinctive accomplishments of Rooster 73 Flight reflect greatly on the caliber of our United States Air Force Airmen."