- Air Force Cross (United States)
Infobox Military Award
name=Air Force Cross
United States Air Force
for="Extraordinary heroism, not justifying the award of a Medal of Honor"
Medal of Honor
same=Army - Distinguished Service Cross Navy -
Navy CrossAir Force - Air Force Cross
lower=Distinguished Service Medals: Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard
The Air Force Cross is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the
United States Air Force. The Air Force Cross is the Air Force decoration equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Navy Cross(Navy and Marine Corps).
The Air Force Cross is awarded for extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of the
Medal of Honor. It may be awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S Air Force, distinguishes him or herself by extraordinary heroism involving one of the following actions:
* In action against an enemy of the United States
* While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force
* While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party
Originally entitled the "Distinguished Service Cross (Air Force)", the Air Force Cross was first proposed in
1947after the creation of the United States Air Force as a separate armed service. In July 1960, the name of the decoration was officially changed to the Air Force Cross. The first award of the Air Force Cross was the posthumously made to Major Rudolph Anderson for extraordinary heroism during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Additional awards of the Air Force Cross are annotated by
oak leaf clusters, and the reverse of every Air Force Cross is engraved with the recipient's name.
As of December 2006, there have been 191 awards of the Air Force Cross. One award, the first made, was for actions in the
Cuban Missile Crisis. Two were retroactively awarded for actions in World War II. 179 were awarded for heroism in the Vietnam War. [There were actually 180 awards during the Vietnam War, but one, to Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor.] Four were awarded for heroism during the 1975 Mayagüez Incident. Two were awarded for the 1991 Gulf War. One was awarded for the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia. Two were awarded for heroism during Operation Anacondain Afghanistanin 2003.
Rudolph Anderson- First recipient, posthumously awarded for valor during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Jason D. Cunningham- Pararescueman killed in action in Afghanistan in 2002.
* Colonel George E. "Bud" Day - Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam War POW.
* Capt. Charles B. "Chuck" DeBellevue - F-4
weapon systems officerace, credited with six (6) MiG kills, the most of any U.S. aviator during the Vietnam War.
* Airman 2nd Class
Duane D. Hackney- Pararescueman decorated for valor in Vietnam.
* Lt. Colonel
James H. Kasler- Vietnam War fighter pilot and POW who received three awards of the Air Force Cross.
Larry W. Maysey- Pararescueman posthumously decorated for valor in Vietnam.
Robin Olds- World War II and Vietnam War fighter pilot.
* Airman First Class (A1C)
William H. Pitsenbarger- Pararescueman and the first enlisted recipient. Award later upgraded to Medal of Honor.
* 1st Lieutenant
Karl W. Richter- Fighter pilot killed in action in Vietnam.
* Lt. Colonel
James Robinson Risner- Vietnam War fighter pilot and POW who received two awards of the Air Force Cross.
R. Stephen Ritchie- only USAF pilot ace of the Vietnam War
Timothy A. Wilkinson- Pararescueman at the Battle of Mogadishu (1993), first enlisted person to earn medal since 1975
White, Robert M. (POW-WWII) P-51 Mustang pilot WWII Germany, F-80 Shooting Star pilot Korean War, X-15 test pilot (First winged astronaut), F-105 Thud pilot Vietnam. Inducted National Aviation Hall of Fame
* [http://wwa.afpc.randolph.af.mil/awardsnet/Decoration.aspx?Mode=Graphics&Decoration=AFC Air Force Personnel Center information on the Air Force Cross]
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