The Air Force and National Aeronautic Association awarded four F-16 pilots the 2007 Mackay Trophy at NAA’s fall awards banquet Monday in Washington, D.C. These pilots, Col. Charles L. Moore, Lt. Col. Stephen C. Williams, Capt. Lawrence T. Sullivan, and Capt. Kristopher W. Struve, were recognized for their expert airmanship in executing an 11-hour mission as part of the 13th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Balad, Iraq, to strike high-value Taliban positions in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in August 2007. Flying under the call sign “Panther 11,” their four-ship F-16CJ formation marked the first time that fighter aircraft stationed in Iraq were used to support combat operations in Afghanistan. Within a two-minute window, they launched 15 GBU-38 500-pound bombs on the targets. “There were so many other people involved in this mission and there’s no way any of this would have happened without all the folks behind the scenes,” Williams said upon receiving the honor. The Mackay Trophy, which dates back to 1912, recognizes the “most meritorious flight of the year” by an Air Force person, persons, or organization. (SAF/PA report by SSgt. J.G. Buzanowski)
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.