DoD Maintenance Phoenix Award Trophy

Today, I want to take a few moments and educate you about the DoD Phoenix award and trophy.  If you’re like most military folks, you’ve probably never heard of this award before.  Heck, I spent 15+ years in the Army and I never heard about it even once.

To keep things simple, the DoD Phoenix award is an award for maintenance excellence.  Units in all branches of the service can compete for the award each year.

Listed below are a few things you should know about the award:

  • It started in 1984
  • Units’ receiving the award get to display it for one year, until the next winner is announced
  • Each year, the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards Program recognizes outstanding achievements by field-level units engaged in military equipment and weapon system maintenance within the Department of Defense
  • Six Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards are presented to units from small, medium, and large categories.
  • From these six award winning units, one is singled out and selected as the best of the best, and presented with the Phoenix Trophy, the DoD’s highest award for maintenance
  • The plaques presented to the award winning units and Phoenix Trophy are courtesy of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)
  • The Phoenix is a mythological bird that lived for approximately five centuries

Past Winners

Here is a short list of recent winners:

  • 2009 – 1st Squadron, 3rd ACR, U.S. Army
  • 2010 – Marine Corps’ Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40 (MALS 40), 2nd Marine Air Wing, Cherry Point, N.C.
  • 2011 – Marine Corps’ Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1 (VMAQ-1) at Cherry Point, N.C.
  • 2012 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Seven Seven (HSM-77) from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • 2013 – D Company, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Final Thoughts 

As a small unit leader, or someone specializing in the maintenance or logistics field, this is a great award to compete for.  Basically, your job as the leader is to create a great maintenance program in your unit and then complete a submission packet.  If your unit is selected as one of the semi-finalists, the DoD will send a team to your unit to conduct an evaluation.

Whether you win or lose, competing for this award is a great way to recognize your Soldiers for going above and beyond.  In addition to the Phoenix Award, you can also compete for the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence.

What are your thoughts?  If you have any experience with the DoD Phoenix Award, please leave a comment below to share your thoughts, or share any tips you can give for units competing for this prestigious award.  I look forward to hearing from you.


chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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7 thoughts on “DoD Maintenance Phoenix Award Trophy”

  1. My name is Peter and I was the number two man of three men on the maintenance crew that helped Shaw Air Force Base win those medals.

    I believe Col. Eberhardt was our wing Commander at the time. He obviously had nothing but good things to say about us.
    I never needed a pet on the back for the rest of my life after winning those awards.

    Truly The Best of the Best concerning weapons systems maintenance and readiness!

  2. I found this while searching for info on the award. I am familiar with it as I was a member of what I Believe was the first unit to win it in 1984, USMC Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron HMH-466, the Wolfpack. It was a proud day as the Commandant and Sgt Major of the Marine Corps came to personaly congratulate us. Thanks for educating!

    1. Kevin R Patnode

      363 TFW Shaw Air Force Base S.C. won the Daedalian award in 1988 and the Phoenix Award in 1989.
      We worked long hard 12 hour days with no days off for a month. A large period of time we worked in mop gear in sweltering heat. Was it worth it, not really all we got out of it was two metal coins. I am sure that officers received metals for what little they did.

  3. This is a really cool idea and an interesting award. It’s great that units in all branches of the service get to compete for it. Looking at your past list of recent winners, it’s obvious that Army, Navy and Marine units have stepped up to the challenge and developed worthy maintenance programs. Do you know if any Air Force units have ever won? I agree that awards like this can be great motivators.

  4. I am very happy to see and hear there is such an award such as this DOD Maintenance Phoenix Award. Sometimes we don’t recognize those who are behind the scenes, and without top maintenance programs, many of our soldiers could be in dangerous situations.

    I believe leaders should meet with their maintenance crews and explain this reward. They should tell them they desire to recommend their maintenance program for this award. I believe just knowing their commander feels they are that good will instill a pride that will show even more excellence.

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