The United States government has posthumously awarded a US Air Medal to Royal Australian Air Force Flying Officer Phillip Zupp.
Zupp’s son and Australian Aviation Flying Editor Owen Zupp accepted the award from the United States Charge D’Affaires to Australia James Caruso at an official presentation attended by Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Tuesday evening.
#CDACarouso & @MarkBinskin_CDF present Owen Zupp, son of Sergeant Phillip Zupp – an Aussie fighter pilot severely wounded while searching for a downed comrade in skies over South Korea in 1952, the Air Medal for his dad's great act of heroism #100yearsofmateship #USwithAus pic.twitter.com/JOKfZnnAWP
— US Embassy Canberra (@USAembassyinOZ) July 3, 2018
The official citation referenced Phillip Zupp’s efforts on February 6 1952, when he was a member of RAAF’s Number 77 Squadron participating in “aerial flight” in a Meteor F.8 jet fighter near Kimpo, South Korea.
“On that date, Sergeant Zupp conducted a search for a downed pilot in an area heavily defended by enemy anti-aircraft fire,” the official citation reads.
“Sergeant Zupp sighted what he believed to be distress panels and in coming down to a dangerously low altitude to investigate he received an explosive burst of enemy fire which destroyed his canopy and wounded him in the face.
“Despite shock and low altitude Sergeant Zupp was able to regain control of his aircraft and return safely to base. The professional skill and airmanship displayed by Sergeant Zupp in the dedication of his service to his country reflect great credit upon himself and the Royal Australian Air Force.”
In Korea, Phillip Zupp, who was later promoted to Flying Officer, flew 201 fighter missions and was Mentioned in Despatches by the Commonwealth.
Zupp’s story, which apart from the events of February 6 1952 also includes, among other achievements, active service during World War 2 with the Australian Army’s 2/10 Cavalry Commando Squadron and being stationed in Hiroshima, Japan with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) only months after the detonation of the atomic bomb there, has been chronicled in a Owen Zupp’s book Without Precedent.
In a statement, the Zupp family thanked Air Chief Marshal Binskin and his staff for their “tireless efforts in seeing Flying Officer Zupp’s service recognised in this way”.
— Owen Zupp. Author. (@owenzupp) July 3, 2018