TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Tampa Bay Defense Alliance (TBDA) President Maj. Gen. Lawrence M. Martin Jr., USAF (Ret) and Airlift/Tanker Association (A/TA) Chairman (Ret) Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, USAF (Ret) announced today Mary Graham from Joint Base Charleston, SC as the recipient of the 2023 Tampa Bay Trophy. The Tampa Bay Trophy recognizes a civic leader whose lifetime achievement and distinguished service to the United States Air Force and Air Mobility Command epitomizes the synergy between civilian and military communities.
Maj. Gen. Martin and Gen. Everhart will present Graham with her citation at the 2023 Airlift Tanker Association Convention held at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center, Grapevine, TX on November 10, 2023, at 4:45 PM.
“Today’s demanding environment places huge stress on our Air Force, its communities, people, and families. Our military bases depend on great partnerships with their neighboring communities and the amazing civic leaders who grow and sustain those relationships. The Tampa Bay Defense Alliance is proud to join the Airlift Tanker Association each year to honor a deserving community leader. Every year, we are thrilled and grateful for outstanding nominations by Air Force communities. From that impressive group, we are incredibly honored to select Mary Graham of Joint Base Charleston for her superb leadership, advocacy, and devotion to her community,” said Martin.
According to the citation, Graham distinguished herself by exceptionally meritorious conduct while performing outstanding service to the Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, and families of Joint Base Charleston, the Charleston community, the State of South Carolina, and to the United States Air Force. A driving Charleston civic leader for over 30 years, Graham improved the lives of service members, military veterans, and their families, enhanced the Joint Base Charleston mission, united the Charleston community, and drove positive improvements at the local, state, and federal level. Graham’s leadership facilitated lower cost child-care access, increased funding for the elementary school serving Joint Base Charleston, eased South Carolina’s spousal employment licensing restrictions, and promoted full state income tax exemption for military retirees.
When base closures first threatened, she advocated to retain regional naval facilities. A second base closure around a decade later led to the creation of Joint Base Charleston. Among her many mission-enhancing accomplishments, she garnered grants to improve Joint Base Charleston’s fire-fighting capacity and to upgrade morale, welfare, and readiness facilities. She directed South Carolina’s elected leadership toward the need for legislative changes to state drivers’ licensing regulations which will permit newly arrived airmen and sailors to get their driver’s licenses up to six months sooner. She helped the Charleston area earn three Abilene Trophies for Air Mobility Command’s best community support and the 2017 Great American Defense Community Award. She served as the 437th Mission Support Group Honorary Commander and as a member of the Air Mobility Command and Air and Space Force Civic Leader Groups. She was also selected by Headquarters Air Force to serve as an Air and Space Force civic leader mentor. Additionally, she serves in leadership roles for the Palmetto Military Support Group, the South Carolina Military Base Task Force, and the Association of Defense Communities Federal Outreach and Advisory Committee. Graham is truly a champion of Joint Base Charleston’s air mobility mission and has earned our gratitude for all she’s accomplished as the recipient of the 2023 Airlift/Tanker Association Tampa Bay Trophy.
“We are thrilled to hear that Mary Graham is the recipient of the Tampa Bay Trophy,” said Col. Michael Freeman, 628th Air Base Wing commander. “Her accomplishments in support of Joint Base Charleston and all the military members stationed in South Carolina are staggering. She has a passion to support the military community, combined with a willingness to engage and an uncanny ability to get things done,” Freeman said. “Mary is absolutely deserving of this recognition.”
“The Airlift/Tanker Association proudly partners with the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance as together we honor our outstanding air mobility civic leader each year with the Tampa Bay Trophy. Mary’s sustained leadership, advocacy and devotion has made life better for our Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, veterans, and families across South Carolina. She’s made a huge difference for our service members and their families, the Air Mobility mission in South Carolina and continues to make her community, our Air Force, and our nation better,” said A/TA Chairman, Gen (ret) Carlton Everhart.
About the Tampa Bay Trophy
The Tampa Bay Trophy was created in 2016 by the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance and honors a civilian each year for their distinguished service and contributions to our country’s Air Force servicemen and women. The Trophy, a one-of-a-kind bronze sculpture by Steve Dickey, Tampa’s unofficial sculptor laureate, highlights the true spirit of the Tampa Bay Community and recognizes the service of the patriots who receive the prestigious award.
About the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance
The Tampa Bay Defense Alliance (TBDA) was formed in 2012 to champion our defense community by connecting our civilians to our military. The TBDA represents an eight-county region covering Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Manatee, Hernando, and Citrus. Speaking as One Team with One Voice, TBDA collaborates and cooperates with our community partners on issues of importance to the defense and military communities in our region. The TBDA promotes a collaborative and engaging environment that vigorously supports a robust and growing defense community. United in actions, we are a forum of strategic thinkers that provide vital linkage to all organizations supporting our military personnel and their families.
About the Airlift Tankers Association
The Airlift/Tanker Association (A/TA) is the world’s premier professional non-profit association for the Air Mobility community embracing innovation, promoting operational excellence, raising awareness, and understanding of the value of global mobility. The A/TA works across the DOD and Air Mobility Enterprise promoting a deeper understanding, appreciation, and reinforcement of Air Mobility heritage, culture, values, and relationships.