Air Force Cross (United States)
|Air Force Cross|
|Awarded by Department of the Air Force|
|Eligibility||Persons serving in the U.S. Air Force|
|Awarded for||"Extraordinary heroism not justifying the Medal of Honor while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States."|
|First awarded||January 8, 1964|
|Last awarded||April 12, 2012|
|Next (higher)||Medal of Honor|
|Equivalent||Army - Distinguished Service Cross
Navy-Marine Corps - Navy Cross
Coast Guard - Coast Guard Cross
|Next (lower)||Distinguished Service Medals: Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard|
Air Force Cross Ribbon
The Air Force Cross is the second highest military award that can be given 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, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard).
The Air Force Cross is awarded for extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of the Medal of Honor. It may be awarded to any individual who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S Air Force, distinguishes him or herself by extraordinary heroism in combat.
Originally entitled the "Distinguished Service Cross (Air Force)", the Air Force Cross was first proposed in 1947 after the creation of the United States Air Force as a separate armed service. The medal was designed by Eleanor Cox, an employee of the Air Force, and was sculpted by Thomas Hudson Jones of the Institute of Heraldry. The Air Force Cross was established by Congress in Public Law 88-593 on July 6, 1960, amending Section 8742 of Title 10, U.S. Code to change the designation of "Distinguished Service Cross" to "Air Force Cross" in case of awards made under Air Force Authority.
Criteria for award 
Title 10, Section 8742. Air Force Cross: Award
"The President may award an Air Force Cross of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the Air Force, distinguishes himself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of a Medal of Honor:
- while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
- while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
- 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."
The Air Force Cross consists of a bronze cross with an oxidized satin finish. Centered on the obverse of the cross is a gold-plated American bald eagle, wings displayed against a cloud formation, (as used on the seal of the Air Force). This design is encircled by a laurel wreath in green enamel, edged in gold. The reverse of the cross is blank and suitable for engraving.
The service ribbon has a very wide center stripe of Brittany blue with narrow stripes of white and red at the edges. The ribbon is almost identical to that of the Distinguished Service Cross, except for the lighter blue center stripe, indicating the close connection of these awards.
As of May 2010, there have been 195 awards of the Air Force Cross to 190 individuals. One award, the first made, was for actions in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Three were retroactively awarded for actions in World War II. 180 were awarded for heroism in the Vietnam War, and four for heroism during the 1975 Mayagüez Incident immediately following. Two were awarded for the 1991 Gulf War, one for the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia, and two were awarded for heroism during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003. One was awarded to combat controller Zachary Rhyner for actions in the Shok Valley, Afghanistan on April 6, 2008.
50 awards have been posthumous, including 30 to members missing in action. 24 have been awarded to enlisted personnel, including 11 pararescue jumpers. 17 graduates of the United States Air Force Academy have been presented the award, and 13 were awarded for conduct while a prisoner of war.
There have been four multiple recipients:
- James H. Kasler (Three awards)
- John A. Dramesi (Two awards)
- Leland T. Kennedy (Two awards)
- Robinson Risner (Two awards)
Notable recipients 
- Maj. Rudolf Anderson, Jr. - First recipient, posthumously awarded for valor during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Col. George E. "Bud" Day - Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam War POW.
- Capt. Charles B. "Chuck" DeBellevue - F-4 weapon systems officer ace, credited with six (6) MiG kills, the most of any U.S. aviator during the Vietnam War.
- CMSgt. Richard Etchberger - USAF Airman who died in the Battle of Lima Site 85. Award later upgraded to Medal of Honor.
- A2C Duane D. Hackney - Pararescueman decorated for valor in Vietnam.
- Lt. Col. James H. Kasler - Vietnam War fighter pilot and POW; recipient of three awards.
- Capt. Leland T. Kennedy - Vietnam War rescue helicopter pilot; recipient of two awards.
- Brig Gen Robin Olds - World War II and Vietnam War fighter pilot.
- A1C William H. Pitsenbarger - Pararescueman and the first enlisted recipient. Award later upgraded to Medal of Honor.
- SrA Zachary Rhyner - Combat Controller who was awarded the AFC for actions during the Battle of Shok Valley.
- 1st Lt. Karl W. Richter - Fighter pilot killed in action in Vietnam.
- Lt. Col. James Robinson Risner - Vietnam War fighter pilot and POW and first living recipient; received two awards.
- Capt. Dale E. Stovall - Vietnam War helicopter pilot who rescued Roger Locher from North Vietnam, flying further than any other SAR pilot. Retired as a Brig Gen.
- Maj. R. Stephen Ritchie - only USAF pilot ace of the Vietnam War. Retired as a Brig Gen.
- Col. Robert M. White - X-15 test pilot and F-105 commander.
Recent Recipients 
Since the Vietnam War, as of September 2012, only eight Air Force Crosses have been awarded — two during Operation Desert Storm, one during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu and five during Operation Enduring Freedom:
|Name||Rank||Unit||Date of action||Occupation||Notes|
|Paul T. Johnson||Captain||354th Tactical Fighter Wing||January 21, 1991||A-10 Pilot||Led search for downed U.S. pilot deep inside enemy territory allowing for the pilot to be successfully rescued.|
|William F. Andrews||Captain||10th Tactical Fighter Squadron||February 27, 1991||F-16 Pilot||After being shot down by air defenses near Basra, Iraq he directed friendly air forces to utilize flares preventing them from being shot down by Iraqi surface-to-air missiles.|
|Timothy A. Wilkinson||Technical Sergeant||24th Special Tactics Squadron||October 3–4, 1993||Pararescue (PJ)||Saved the lives of multiple rangers despite significant self risk during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.|
|John Chapman||Technical Sergeant||24th Special Tactics Squadron||March 4, 2002||Combat Controller (CCT)||Gallantry near Gardez, in the eastern highlands of Afghanistan during the Battle of Takur Ghar.|
|Jason D. Cunningham||Senior Airman||38th Rescue Squadron||March 4, 2002||Pararescue (PJ)||Ten injured soldiers survived the Battle of Takur Ghar due to his medical care despite a mortal wound.|
|Zachary Rhyner||Senior Airman||21st Special Tactics Squadron||April 6, 2008||Combat Controller (CCT)||During the Battle of Shok Valley, called in over 50 attack runs to prevent his Special Forces team from being overrun.|
|Robert Gutierrez Jr.||Staff Sergeant||321st Special Tactics Squadron||October 5, 2009||Combat Controller (CCT)||Saved the Special Forces team to which he was attached by repeatedly calling in close air support despite a chest wound.|
|Barry F. Crawford, Jr.||Captain||321st Special Tactics Squadron||May 4, 2010||Special Tactics Officer (STO)||During a fourteen hour battle following an ambush, directed a MEDEVAC rescue and called in close air support to allow ground forces to exfiltrate without massive casualties.|
- "Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr.". Air Force Link (USAF). Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
- "Special tactics officer receives AF Cross". Air Force Times. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Air Force Instruction 36-2803 Table 2.1: http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/AFI36-2803.pdf
- Air Force Cross
- "Air Force Cross". Air Force Link (USAF). Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- "Title 10, Sub-Title D Air Force, Part II Personnel, Chapter 857 Awards and Decorations, §8744". Cornell University Law School. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
- "Title 10, Sub-Title D Air Force, Part II Personnel, Chapter 857 Awards and Decorations, §8742". Cornell University Law School. Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
- There were actually 181 awards during the Vietnam War, but one, to Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
- Ramsey, John, "Airman Gets Medal For Valor", Fayetteville Observer, March 11, 2009, p. 1.
- "Hall of Heroes Air Force Cross Recipients". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- "Military Times Hall of Valor: Paul T. Johnson". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- "Military Times Hall of Valor: William F. Andrews". Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- "The Air Force Cross For Actions in Somalia in 1993". Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "The Air Force Cross In The Global War on Terrorism". Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "Military Times Hall of Valor: Zachary J. Rhyner". Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "Portraits in Courage Feature - Vol V Staff Sergeant Robert Gutierrez". Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "Military Times Hall of Valor: Barry F. Crawford Jr.". Retrieved September 7, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Air Force Cross (United States)|
- Alphabetical recipients list, Home of the Heroes
- Listing of Vietnam War Air Force Cross recipients
- Air Force Cross Awarded 40 Years Late, Air Force Times, March 31, 2008