Local native 1st Lt. Matt Clausen has been awarded the Clarence Mackay Trophy for 2003 for heroic service in the U.S. efforts in the war in Iraq. The son of Jim and Becky Clausen, the 1996 Northview graduate received a degree in electrical engineering from Rose-Hulman in 2000.
An ROTC member, Clausen was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force the day before his college graduation. He was sent to Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Ill., where he acquired his private pilot license. His military pilot training was done in Columbus, Miss., then he was stationed at McChord Air Force Base in Washington.
During the summer of 2002, Clausen did two 30-day stints in Iraq doing build up prior to the war. After the war broke out, based from the Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina, he continued to ferry troops and equipment to Iraq for military build up.
Clausen became part of a five-member crew called "Vijay 10". On March 25, the National Aeronautic Association and the U.S. Air Force awarded the five airmen, now from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., with the prestigious Clarance Mackay Trophy for 2003, for its heroic service in the U.S. efforts in the war in Iraq.
According to the Air Force Military Online News and the NAA, "The five-member crew planned and led a key portion of Operation Northern Delay in Iraq, the main supporting action for operation Iraqi Freedom. On March 26, 2003, the first night of the coalition ground campaign in Northern Iraq, the crew directed the combat insertion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade with a 15-ship formation of C-17A Globemaster IIIs, a strategic transport plane.
"The initial airdrop of 1,000 soldiers occurred over Bashur, Iraq. It opened up the northern front to combat operations and constituted the largest formation airdrop since D-Day in world War II. The Air Force termed the mission the most demanding C-17A mission in the aircraft's history and it marked the fist time personnel were dropped from the C-17A in combat. After the initial insertion, Vijay 10 crew members, along with active and reserve crews from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., and McChord Air Force Base, Wash., conducted four more nights of missions to deploy the rest of the 173rd and the Combat Readiness Group. Vijay 10's mission effectively established the United States' second military front in Iraq.
"The Mackay Award is presented annually for the most meritorious flight of the year and for gallantry, intrepidity, unusual initiative and resourcefulness, achievement of outstanding results with unusual presence of mind in either combat or non-combat conditions.
"The Vijay 10 crew members are part of the 62nd Airlift Wing, based at McChord, located near Tacoma, Wash. They are: 1st Lt. Matt Clausen, 4th Airlift Squadron; Lt. Col. Shane Hershman, 7th Airlift Squadron; Maj. Bob Colvin, 8th Airlift Squadron; Master Sgt. Shawn Brumfield, 62nd Operations Group and Master Sgt. Chris Dockery, 7th Airlift Squadron.
"For their distinguished service in combat, NAA will present the five members of Vijay 10 with the Mackay Trophy at the Association's Fall Awards Banquet later this year. The Mackay Trophy was first awarded in 1911. The original trophy is on display at the National Air and Space Museum."
Clausen and his wife, Danielle, have a home in Spanaway, Wash. He is now back at his original home base at McChord Air Force Base preparing for his next assignment. He will be promoted to the ran of Captain June 25.
Jim and Becky Clausen worry about their son but are happy that he can live out his dreams.
"We're very proud of him," Jim said. "It's one of those things you never know what's going on until it's all over. But he's doing what he's always wanted to do. We feel very fortunate that he can do what he wants to do."