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Karl L. Polifka

Date of death: Killed in Action
Status: KIA

As a Colonel, Karl Polifka also flew reconnaissance missions during the Korean War, earning a Silver Star, before he was killed after he bailed out of his badly-shot-up reconnaissance airplane.


Distinguished Service Cross

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant Colonel (Air Corps) Karl L. Polifka, United States Army Air Forces, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of an F-4 Reconnaissance Airplane in the 3d Reconnaissance Group, TWELFTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 26 November 1943, during an aerial reconnaissance mission over Mt. Maggiori, Italy. While elements of the U.S. Fifth Army were advancing into enemy positions in the Mt. Maggiori and Casino area, Lieutenant Colonel Polifka valiantly flew a daring reconnaissance mission to obtain intelligence information regarding enemy positions. Lieutenant Colonel Polifka's unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 12th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.

General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army-North African Theater of Operations, General Orders No. 1 (1944)

Action Date: 26-Nov-43

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Regiment: 3d Reconnaissance Group

Division: 12th Air Force

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Awarded for actions during the Korean War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Colonel Karl L. Polifka, United States Air Force, for gallantry in action against an enemy on 1 July 1951. As Wing Commander of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Colonel Polifka was responsible for the constant surveillance of the enemy within Korea. Intelligence reports had indicated a large buildup of enemy supplies and troops and accelerated activity in the vicinity of Kaesong. Fully aware of the danger involved, Colonel Polifka determined to make a visual inspection of the area to verify the reported buildup. Flying an armed F-51 aircraft, Colonel Polifka arrived at the enemy concentration area and descended to a low level to secure better visual reconnaissance. During his inspection he encountered a heavy barrage of intense enemy ground fire, which severely damaged his aircraft. With relentless determination, Colonel Polifka was able to maintain flight, and headed south toward friendly lines. After thirty miles, when it became evident that further control of the aircraft would be impossible, Colonel Polifka attempted to parachute from the disabled plane, but was killed in the attempt. Colonel Polifka's devotion to duty in the face of extreme danger was in keeping with the highest traditions of the service and reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces, and the United States Air Force.

General Orders: Headquarters, Far East Air Forces, General Orders No. 357 (July 28, 1951)

Action Date: July 1, 1951

Service: Air Force

Regiment: 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

Division: 5th Air Force