The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has announced that Major Stephen D. “Ali” Keck, USAF, is the recipient of the 2022 Mackay Trophy. The Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force (CSAF) names the honoree of the award, which the NAA administers.
The CSAF chose Major Keck as the recipient of the prestigious recognition for his leadership and skill as an Airman, according to the notification provided to the NAA. The CSAF said, “As Weapons Assistant Director of Operations and Evaluator Pilot, 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Undisclosed Location, Southwest Asia, 16 June 2022, Major Keck was the Defensive Counter-Air Team Lead, supporting a special operations team in contested enemy territory.” He continued, “During this mission, Major Keck identified and corrected a critical error during ingress that would have given away the Task Force’s position. Additionally, Major Keck identified an adversary aircraft in the contested airspace and initiated an intercept to ensure the safety of ground forces. With Major Keck’s exemplary leadership, this operation resulted in the capture of a senior Islamic State leader.”
“Major Keck’s inspiring actions reflect exactly what it takes to be a stellar Airman and aviator – ingenuity, tenacity, and audacity,” said Chief of the Air Force General David W. Allvin. “Moreover, any time your name is on a trophy alongside the likes of Hap Arnold, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Chuck Yeager, you have done something truly special.”
In 1911, Clarence H. Mackay commissioned the Mackay Army Aviation Cup for the Aero Club of America, known today as the NAA. The cup is now widely known as the Mackay Trophy. The silver Art Nouveau trophy, crafted by Tiffany and Company, features four depictions of Nike, the winged Greek goddess of victory, holding the Wright Military Flyer and is awarded to the most meritorious flight of the year in military aviation. The USAF and the NAA present the trophy annually.
“I’m honored and humbled to be receiving the 2022 MacKay Trophy,” said Major Keck. “The men and women I worked with during the specific mission outlined in the announcement were incredible warriors who represent the best our military has to offer. All of their hard work in preparation for and execution of the mission made that night successful. When I read up on past recipients of the MacKay Trophy, some of the names jumped out right away. I honestly don’t think I deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as some of them but am happy to have contributed to the success of the Air Force to earn a spot among those elite aviators.”
“Major Keck’s recognition from the USAF aligns him with many of the most heroic acts of aviation in our history,” said Amy Spowart, President and CEO, NAA. “From legends like Hap Arnold and Robin Olds to outstanding crews like DRACO 42, his name is now synonymous with many of the most extraordinary Airmen in history.”
The Mackay Trophy will be presented by General Allvin to Major Keck at Nellis Air Force Base in January.