Capt. Michal P. Polidor, a 2004 Air Force Academy graduate, was presented the 2011 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship Friday today in Mitchell Hall. He distinguished himself through his heroic actions in an Operation Enduring Freedom sortie supporting United States and Afghan National Army ground forces.
As a cadet, Polidor earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2004 as he carried a 3.9 grade point average as an astronautical engineering major. A two-time academic all-district selection, Polidor was named the Air Force Academy's scholar-athlete of the year and the College Hockey America conference student athlete of the year in 2004. The Imperial, Penn., native was the team's starting goaltender for three seasons and played in 95 games, the sixth most in school history.
Captain Polidor is currently a member of the Air Force Global Strike Command, and assigned at Whiteman AFB, Mo. On Oct. 3, 2009, Captain Polidor was the Flight Lead of an F-15E Strike Eagle two-ship tasked to support Coalition Observation Post Keating in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. More than 80 coalition soldiers were pinned down and taking fire from a well-orchestrated 360-degree attack of 250 Taliban insurgents in the steep and rugged Kamdesh Valley.
Shortly after arriving on station, Captain Polidor assumed the Tactical Air Control-Airborne role, deconflicting aircraft and establishing a communications relay amid smoke, approaching thunderstorms, and radio communication that was severely degraded by the surrounding terrain
During his 7.8-hour sortie, Captain Polidor was able to coordinate and integrate 19 aircraft, to include F-15Es, A-10s, AH-64s and a B-1, orchestrating precision strikes on the enemy. He expertly expended four bombs and executed a perfect 20mm strafe against a target in close proximity to friendly forces. He also performed a battle damage check for his wingman, who experienced a severe hydraulics failure.
Low on fuel, Captain Polidor continued to orchestrate incoming air assets while aerial refueling. Over 30,000 pounds of ordnance and 170 rounds of strafe eliminated enemy strongholds, saving 72 American and Afghan National Army lives.
Capt. Polidor joins an extremely exclusive group, becoming the fiftieth Air Force Academy graduate selected for the Jabara Award. Among the previous winners are such notable alumni as Vietnam War heroes Karl Richter and Steve Ritchie, pioneering astronaut Karol Bobko, and Hudson River landing pilot Chesley Sullenberger.
Established in 1967, the award is presented to an Academy graduate, living or deceased, whose actions directly associated with an aerospace vehicle set him or her apart from contemporaries.
The award is jointly presented on behalf of the Academy, the Association of Graduates, and the Jabara family. Col. Jabara was the first jet ace and the second leading ace in the Korean War. Captain Polidor was excited and humbled to learn he had won the Jabara Award. "I am tremendously honored to be receiving this award from the Jabara Family, the AOG, and the Air Force Academy," he said. "Adding my name to a list of [distinguished] aviators is a very proud moment in my Air Force career.