HUNTSVILLE, AL – Davidson’s President, Chairman & CEO, MG John W. Holly (USA, Ret.) has received the 2023 Medaris Award, the highest recognition bestowed by the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA). The award was presented to Holly for his significant contributions to the United States defense preparedness during an August 9th luncheon ceremony, coinciding with Huntsville’s Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
The NDIA Tennessee Valley Chapter established the annual Medaris Award in 1981 in honor of Major Gen. John B. Medaris, the first commanding general of the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., commanding general of the U.S. Army Ordnance Missile Command and a leader in Army space exploration. The names of all annual award recipients are displayed at Aviation and Missile Command Headquarters, at Redstone Arsenal. Holly is the 39th Medaris Award recipient.
“Past recipients of the Medaris Award include such individuals as: Dr. John McDaniel, Dr. Joe Moquin, Dr. William McCorkle, Lieutenant General (LTG) (Ret) Charles Eifler; Dr. Bill Davies, Dr. Bill Davis, Major General (MG) (Ret) John Zert, Dr. Julian Davidson, Jess Granone, Will Halsey, U.S. Senators: Heflin; Shelby; and Sessions – among many others who have been bestowed this special honor,” said ceremony emcee and NDIA Tennessee Valley Chapter President, Corby Dellarocco.
Davidson’s MarCom Team worked behind the scenes in the weeks leading up to the award presentation to gather interviews with Holly’s former and current colleagues, mentees and admirers. The video tribute is entitled, 'John Holly: Journey of Gratitude.'
Here are some of the myriad well-wishes expressed during the video presentation:
"John Holly: Journey of Gratitude"
“I'd like to say thanks to John for his great service to our nation, to our Army, our soldiers, our communities and our nation,” says Jackson County, AL. Commission Chairman, MG Bill Nance (USA, Ret.)
“Well, I would use the word that he would not be very happy with…and I use the word ‘legend,’ says MG Dan Hughes (USA, Ret.). “And I know he would probably scoff at that, but I first met John Holly when I was a major, and I think he was a colonel, running the ATACMS office. And he sat there and listened politely to a young major who was telling a war story…and you know war stories get better with age. And you know what? He had great insights, he had great patience with me, and didn't kick me out the door – which would have been the first thing I would have done to that young major.”
“I think he was a national leader – at the right time, in the right place, in a tremendous decision-making capacity that happened for our nation to move forward,” says Riki Ellison, Chairman & Founder at Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. “John was the lead and had to go into Alaska, into Fort Greeley as the commander to implement and put forward the first ever operational missile defense system for the entire country against a real threat. And he was a pillar. He was foundational. And you could see it. I saw it."
"I think we all saw that this was his mission. You know, this was his mission from God. So, I give him just tremendous accolades, tremendous credit. And great appreciation for being an American hero for missile defense to take it from a dream to a reality,” Ellison says.
“For me, personally, General Holly is the consummate leader, mentor and friend,” says Dr. Mitch Stevison, President Mission Systems & Executive Vice President at Mercury Systems. “His personal attributes; humble leadership, teamwork, personal involvement. But for me, what set him apart was his willingness to spend time and develop individuals, which I benefited tremendously from. I can tell you without any reservation that any contribution that I've made in the aerospace and defense domain is a directly attributable to what I learned from him while working for him many, many years ago,” Stevison recounts.
When you talk about the Medaris Award – when you talk about teamwork, hard work, dedication – when you look over the lifetime of John Holly, he exemplifies that to the fullest degree,” say Davidson Board Member, LTG Ron Burgess (USA, Ret.)
“We at Davidson Technologies could not have anyone better to be at the helm to lead us now into the future that we are looking for as the company is transitioning and moving into a new phase of his existence. John Holly is the right man at the right time for that and I look forward to working with him and the entire team at Davidson to accomplish those goals," Burgess finished.
"It has been my pleasure to know Major General Holly for more than two decades,” says Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District Representative, Dale Strong.
“He is innovative, hardworking, and respected among his peers. He has not only carved his own path toward success but has made significant contributions to the warfighter during his lifetime. Major General Holly, I'm proud to serve as your congressman. Thank you for your contributions to this country and to Redstone Arsenal,” Strong congratulated.
“John is a leader who’s compassionate, who’s thoughtful, who's curious, and just has a knack for getting the absolute best out of people and delivers important results for our country,” says Tory Bruno, President & CEO of United Launch Alliance.
“I first knew John when he was still in the Army in the Missile Defense Agency and was a legend for putting in place the GMD system in Alaska that is our country's primary defense against long range ballistic missiles. So, imagine my delight years later, when John had retired from the Army, when I was looking for someone to help me run the strategic and missile defense business at Lockheed Martin, that John expressed an interest. So, we sat down together, and you don't really interview a guy like John Holly – you just tell him what your problems are, and you hope that he wants to help you with them. So, he came on board, and he did just that. He put his flag in Alabama, I put mine in California. We divided up our kingdom and we managed it together. I Could not have done the amazing things that we did without John. And then, of course, we also worked together in the UK, and John went on to run the Atomic Weapons Establishment for the British, our close ally, whom together we provide strategic nuclear deterrence to this planet. A mission that saves 200 million lives a year, preventing great power conflict," Bruno continued.
So, John's contributions as an engineer, as a leader, as a person who has served our country tirelessly for decades, are hard to describe. They're just amazing. John, you are so well deserving of this honor, and it has been my privilege to work with someone like you. Thank you for your service, thank you for your friendship, thank you for the privilege of knowing you. Congratulations," says Bruno.
NDIA's Corby Dellarocco closed by saying, "As you can see from the list of past Medaris Award recipients, it is truly a list of giants. Giants of government, of industry and of community who have each made an extraordinary contribution to space and national security - through a combination of active-duty service, leadership in the space and defense industry, and a positive impact on our local community. This year’s Medaris awardee truly exemplifies the criteria and spirit of this prestigious award."