Allegany County native earns aeronautics award

Michael Graves (right) was presented the Lockheed Martin Corporate NOVA Award from president, chairman and CEO Marillyn Hewson (left) in Washington.

WASHINGTON — Michael Graves, a 1994 Whitesville Central School graduate and retired 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, has received the Lockheed Martin Corporate NOVA Award, earned by the top 1% of the defense contractor’s employees.

Graves was eligible for the NOVA Award because he and his team of four aeronautics support specialists were awarded the Aero Star Award for their work on 17 heavily damaged F-22 aircraft in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, which devastated the Panama City, Fla. area in October 2018.

Graves traveled from Texas to Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, to assess, troubleshoot, repair and launch the aircraft. It was the first-ever repairs to fifth-generation fighters that had sustained battle-level damage, according to Lockheed Martin.

Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed, presented Graves the NOVA Award during a banquet on Oct. 25 in Washington. Graves and his aeronautics team members also received the Aero Star Award, which is earned by Lockheed Martin employees “for hard work, dedication, sacrifice, integrity, persistence, intellect and leadership.”

Graves, son of Nathan and Vickie Scott of Whitesville and Dennis and Cheryl Graves of Wellsville, entered the Air Force in October 1994 and retired as a master sergeant after 20½ years. He is senior technical lead in F-22 Product Support Engineering at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, where he has been employed for 12 years.

He and his wife, Lisa Marie Graves, who is also retired from the Air Force, are members of Morrison Hayes Post 702 Wellsville American Legion. Daughters Jericka and Sierra Graves are members of the Texas Air Force National Guard, and are also members of Morrison Hayes Post and Unit 702 American Legion Auxiliary. They live in Weatherford, Texas.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is