Capt. Scott Markle received the Clarence Mackay Trophy Oct. 29, 2007, for his actions while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2006.
Markle, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot from the 81st Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, directly engaged a group of Taliban fighters June 16, 2006, who were in combat with a 15-person special forces team.
Captain Markle was leading a two-ship flight to support a mission in southern Afghanistan when his flight was re-tasked on takeoff to support special forces troops along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in contact with Taliban forces.
When he arrived just before dawn, heavy gunfire and tracers were going in many directions and visibility made it difficult to find the team’s location. Markle, unable to employ weapons due to the enemy’s close proximity to the team, flew a dangerously low pass over the area while releasing self-protection flares.
The flares momentarily halted enemy fire, which was noted by the ground controller. The controller requested a few more close passes from Markle that gave the special forces team time to create more distance between themselves and the Taliban. This also allowed Markle to strafe the enemy area with more than 1,000 30 millimeter rounds on his final pass.
The special forces team was able to escape with no casualties. Captain Markle was credited with destroying three machine gun nests and killing 40 enemy combatants.
“I am humbled to have my name added to the list of trophy winners, which includes some of the greatest aviators of all time,” Markle said at the ceremony.
“Receiving the Mackay Trophy puts you in the company of air power legends,” said Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, who was the Air Force vice chief of staff at the time. “Not many names are mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Hap Arnold, Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Chuck Yeager, but tonight, the Markle name is now one of them.”
The trophy was first awarded in 1911 and is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.