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MACS-1 breaks new ground in the air

By Lance Cpl. Robert L. Botkin | | November 10, 2005

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Two awards were presented to the Marines of Marine Air Control Squadron 1 Nov. 10 during their Marine Corps Ball at Laughlin, Nev.

MACS-1 was honored as the recipient of both the Earl F. Ward Memorial Award and the Commandant's Aviation Trophy for 2005, with an unprecedented first occurring with each award.

The Earl F. Ward Memorial Award is a medallion award presented by the Air Traffic Control Association to a group for an outstanding achievement which has added to the quality, safety or efficiency of air traffic control.

This is the first time a Marine unit has won the award, but it is only fitting since Ward himself was a Marine pilot during World War I, according to the ATCA.

The Earl F. Ward Memorial Award is a highly sought-after and respected award worldwide, said Maj. Craig Doty, MACS-1 executive officer and native of Mason, Ohio.

With both civilian and military groups from as far away as Russia and Australia competing for the award, along with the close competition that was found at home with civilian air traffic controllers and the United States Army and Air Force, which both had units in the running, this was no small feat for MACS-1.

“There were more than one-hundred and seventy-five entries world-wide,” said Doty. “We won because of the pride the Marines take in their unit and the pride the Marines take in their job.”

The air traffic controllers couldn’t have done it without the support of the rest of the squadron though, said Cpl. Ray T. Champion, MACS-1 air traffic controller from Brecksville, Ohio.

The squadron’s hard work as a whole was recognized in the form of the Commandant’s Aviation Trophy, an award that has previously only been earned by squadrons with their own aircraft.

The award, presented by the Marine Corps Aviation Association, was established to recognize the best overall performance and accomplishment of all assigned tasks by a Marine squadron.

A major contributor to MACS-1’s claim to this award was the amount of operations they were able to participate in, said Doty.

MACS-1 also fulfilled its obligations as air traffic controllers and had Marines conducting security and sustainment operations for Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, a first for a Marine air control squadron.

While deployed, MACS-1 safely controlled 201,584 air operations in the Al Anbar province and successfully helped transport 169,784 pounds of equipment, keeping safe control of the I Marine Expeditionary Force airspace within Iraq.

Not content with just fighting the good fight on the front lines, MACS-1 also deployed Marines from detachments across California to training exercises including the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course and Exercise Desert Talon.

MACS-1 also worked to support the testing of the complimentary low-altitude weapons systems and Patriot Missile while deploying Marines to Marine Expeditionary Units. The success of MACS-1 in combat, exercises and operational planning was a true testament to the outstanding Marines and sailors of MACS-1, and it has set a new standard for other Marine aviation command and control units to emulate, according to the official award citation.

“All credit goes to the Marines,” said Doty. “They’re the ones that were making these things happen.”
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