Paul C. Zurkowski

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Colonel Paul C. Zurkowski for heroism while participating in aerial flight as A-10C Pilot, 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on 28 June 2012. On that date, Colonel Zurkowski’s bravery, courage under fire and unmatched aviation skills saved the lives of a 90-man International Security Assistance Force Team that was pinned down and taking heavy fire from multiple locations. Under low ceilings and in extreme mountainous terrain, Colonel Zurkowski flew low through the valleys continually exposed to the enemy threat. Colonel Zurkowski courageously performed multiple shows of force to deter enemy aggression. During a rocket pass marking the enemy location, Colonel Zurkowski was targeted by enemy small arms fire and suffered battle damage. Colonel Zurkowski was able to remain in the fight despite being hit by enemy fire. Colonel Zurkowski then expertly employed 1,150 rounds of 30 millimeter from the A-10’s GAU-8 Gatling gun with four highly accurate passes. Colonel Zurkowski knew he had to continue his attack even when his gun began to malfunction with 30 millimeter rounds exploding in front of the aircraft. The direct results of Colonel Zurkowski’s actions under fire, with known battle damage, a malfunctioning gun, and extreme weather were the successful neutralization of the enemy allowing the ground team to regain control over a significant insurgent force. The brave and heroic skills demonstrated by Colonel Zurkowski saved the lives of the 90 International Security Assistance Force personnel and clearly far exceed that of his peers. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Colonel Zurkowski’s reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.