The Air Force and National Aeronautic Association have awarded the 2006 MacKay Trophy to Capt. Scott Markle, an A-10 pilot with the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany. Gen. Duncan McNabb, vice chief of staff, presented the award, which dates to 1911 to 2nd Lt. H.H. Arnold, to Markle during an Oct. 29 ceremony in Washington. SSgt. J.G. Buzanowski reports that Markle received the award for his actions over Afghanistan in June 2006 when he “directly engaged” Taliban fighters attacking a 15-person Special Forces team. Markle’s two-ship flight received new tasking orders as they took off, arriving just before dawn to a spot along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Hog pilots could not distinguish friend from foe in the heavy gunfire, so Markle flew a “dangerously low pass,” releasing self-protection flares that briefly halted enemy fire. A ground controller asked for more passes while his team moved further away from the Taliban. Markle then strafed the enemy position, destroying three machine gun nests and killing more 40 enemy combatants.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.