Air Force Cross (United States)
|Air Force Cross|
U.S. Air Force Cross
|Awarded by Department of the Air Force|
|Type||Military medal (Decoration)|
|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."|
|Established||July 6, 1960|
|First awarded||January 8, 1964|
|Last awarded||May 6, 2015|
|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: Department of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard|
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), the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps), and the Coast Guard Cross (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 2015, there have been 197 awards of the Air Force Cross to 192 individuals. One award, the first made, was for actions in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Three were retroactively awarded for actions in World War II. One hundred eighty 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, to USAF Pararescueman Timothy Wilkinson, for the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia, and two were awarded for heroism during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003, one to USAF Pararescueman Jason Cunningham and one to special tactics Technical Sergeant John Chapman. One was awarded to combat controller Zachary Rhyner for actions in the Shok Valley, Afghanistan on April 6, 2008. Another was awarded to USAF Pararescueman MSgt Ivan Ruiz for heroism in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 10, 2013.
Fifty awards have been posthumous, including 30 to members missing in action. Twenty-four have been awarded to enlisted personnel, including 12 pararescue jumpers. Seventeen 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)
- Maj. Rudolf Anderson, Jr.: First recipient, posthumously awarded for valor during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Gen. Charles G. Boyd, POW for almost 7 years and the only Vietnam-era POW to reach the four-star rank.
- 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, triple ace.
- 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 brigadier general.
- Maj. R. Stephen Ritchie: USAF pilot ace of the Vietnam War. Retired as a brigadier general.
- Col. Robert M. White: X-15 test pilot and F-105 commander.
Since the Vietnam War, as of May 2015, only eleven Air Force Crosses have been awarded—two during Operation Desert Storm, one during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, and eight during Operation Enduring Freedom. No Air Force Crosses were awarded for actions in the Iraq War.
† indicates that the Air Force Cross was awarded posthumously Lavender background and
|Name||Rank||Unit||Date of action||Occupation||Notes|
|Paul T. Johnson||Captain||354th Tactical Fighter Wing||Jan 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||Feb 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||Oct 3–4, 1993||Pararescue||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 Control||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||Despite suffering a mortal wound, ten injured soldiers survived the Battle of Takur Ghar due to his medical care.|
|Zachary Rhyner||Senior Airman||21st Special Tactics Squadron||April 6, 2008||Combat Control||During the Battle of Shok Valley Rhyner called in over 50 attack runs to prevent the joint-115 man force of American Special Forces soldiers and Afghan commandos from being overrun and allow for extraction.|
|Robert Gutierrez Jr.||Staff Sergeant||21st Special Tactics Squadron||Oct 5, 2009||Combat Control||Saved the Special Forces team to which he was attached by repeatedly calling in close air support despite a chest wound and collapsed lung.|
|Barry F. Crawford, Jr.||Captain||21st Special Tactics Squadron||May 4, 2010||Special Tactics Officer||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.|
|Jay Fracek-Rubin||Captain||58th Rescue Squadron||August 17, 2011||Combat Rescue Officer||Engaged insurgent cell alone over the course of an eight-hour battle after being ambushed. Called in air strike support on his own location, and survived. Also, rumored participant, Operation Neptune Spear, JSOC Member.|
|Ivan Ruiz||Master Sergeant||22nd Special Tactics Squadron||Dec. 10, 2013||Pararescue||Protecting and saving the lives of two non-ambulatory Army Special Forces soldiers by himself, despite a high volume of enemy fire and grenades at extremely close range during a firefight in Kandahar province, when they were ambushed and separated from their unit.|
|Dustin Temple||Senior Airman||21st Special Tactics Squadron||Sep. 27, 2014||Combat Control||Repeatedly braving enemy fire to gather ammunition and call in dozens of airstrikes, saving 38 lives during a 48-hour battle in September in Afghanistan.|
- "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 December 17, 2014.
- 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.
- Maj. Craig Savage , AFSOC Public Affairs /"PJ’s extraordinary heroism earns Air Force Cross"/Published December 17, 2014
- "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.
- "Military Times Hall of Valor: Jay Fracek-Rubin.". Retrieved July 24, 2016.
- "PJ's extraordinary heroism earns an Air Force Cross". Retrieved Dec 17, 2014.
- "Combat controllers to receive Air Force Cross, Silver Stars". Retrieved May 6, 2015.
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