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NEWS | Dec. 5, 2023

JB Charleston civic leader wins Tampa Bay Trophy

By Staff Sgt Dawn M. Weber 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

During the 2023 Airlift/Tanker Association Convention and Symposium in Dallas, TX, the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance presented the Tampa Bay Trophy to one of Joint Base Charleston’s very own civic leaders.

Mary Graham, an Air and Space Forces civic leader, won the Tampa Bay Trophy for her years of dedication to the military community in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Tampa Bay Defense Alliance created the annual award in 2016 to recognize civilians for their dedicated service and notable contributions to the men and women of the nation’s Air and Space Forces. Trophy recipients exemplify the collaboration and partnerships between military and local communities.

“Mary has dedicated her professional life to service of the Charleston Metro Region with an emphasis on support of the military,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Freeman, 628th Air Base Wing and JB Charleston commander. “Her passion for supporting the military and integrating us into the community combined with her ability to communicate, persuade, connect, and flat out get things done, is simply astounding.”

In her current role as an Air and Space Forces civic leader, she reports directly to Headquarters Air Force, discussing ways the local community can work to solve quality-of-life issues impacting U.S. Airmen and their families.

Initially, Graham was asked to serve a four-year term in the program, meeting, learning from, and serving Airmen around the U.S. and overseas.

“After my initial term, I was asked to stay in the program and serve as a mentor,” Graham said. “It is a tremendous honor. I love meeting Airmen - it’s amazing how mature and confident they are and how they understand their role in the Air Force mission.”

Graham also serves as the Charleston representative to the South Carolina Military Base Task Force, an organization that strives to improve military installations and facilities and, ultimately, quality-of-life for service members. She was named vice chairman of the task force in 2021.

Since moving to the Lowcountry in 1989, Graham has been an avid advocate of the U.S. Air Force, the air mobility mission and JB Charleston, actively working to help support and expand the joint base and military presence.

“Charleton has always been a welcoming and supportive community to our military,” Graham
said. “It has never been an ‘us’ and ‘them’ community, all our military families – active duty, reservists, civilians, and retirees – are part of the community and make us the great place that we are.”

Graham has devoted enduring service to JB Charleston and the military at large, for more than 30 years, working to keep service members and their families on the community’s mind.

“Mary’s sustained leadership, advocacy and devotion has made life better for our Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, veterans, and families across South Carolina,” said retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Carlton Everhart, A/TA Chairman. “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.”