history of the distinguished flying cross society
The road to the Distinguished Flying Cross Society began when Alexander D. Ciurczak, a retired Air Force Captain who was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II, could not locate an organization that was dedicated to the DFC. Ciurczak, known to everyone as Al, explained how with incredible determination he began to turn an idea into a national organization. “It all started with an advertisement in the Retired Officers Magazine of September 1993.”
The ad read as follows: USAF Distinguished Flying Cross: Is there an organization or society whose members have been awarded the USAF DFC? If not, why not? I would be willing to start one. Write: A.D. Ciurczak, 34552 Camino Capistrano, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624.
With many individual responses, a letter from an editor of a military-oriented magazine and the Defense Department indicated there was no record of an organization made up of members who were awarded the DFC. A handwritten letter-writing campaign began. Letters went to HQ Air Force, HQ AFMPC/DPMASSA, Randolph AFB, Texas, the Legion of Valor Association, Airmen Memorial Museum, the Chief of Staff, US Air Force, and any other address that sounded promising. Several negative responses almost led to abandonment, and it wasn’t until a reply was received from General Merrill A. McPeak, Chief of Staff, USAF, that he felt the Society could become a reality.
The Chief of Staff’s letter got the program going again. Letters went to every organization relating to aviation that could be found. In the meantime, the local library came in handy and solved the problem of how to get a non-profit organization started. Then we had to deal with the development of the articles of incorporation and the bylaws. About this time, wishes to win the lottery or have a family lawyer/friend to help were in order. Talk about paperwork! There were letters and forms to the Secretary of State, the IRS, phone calls, applications more complicated than income tax forms, etc.
Finally, in April of 1994, a letter from the Secretary of State indicated that the approval process was officially started, which meant the paperwork was forwarded to the IRS for review. Then more forms…then a letter from the IRS saying the review could take up to 100 days.
The letter writing campaign continued with lists from ‘Who’s Who’ and a list of Vietnam organizations supplied by the Chief of Public Affairs in the Pentagon. The most disappointing aspect of this campaign was to find that none of the services maintained a listing of DFC recipients.
Meanwhile, individuals responded to notices placed in newsletters such as Kings Cliffe, published by the 20th Fighter Group Association; Military, published in California and covering all branches; Journal, published by the Second Air Division Association; WWII Air Commando, published by that association and Flak News, published by the 398th Bomb Group (H) Memorial Association.
It wasn’t until 31 May 1994 that The Distinguished Flying Cross Society received recognition from the California Secretary of State. Then on 6 June 1994, the Internal Revenue Service gave its approval for a non-profit, tax-free organization under Section 501 (C) (19) of the Internal Revenue Code”
The DFC Society was Inaugurated on the Fiftieth Anniversary of D-Day
On the auspicious fiftieth anniversary of D-Day, The Distinguished Flying Cross became an official non-profit organization. In actuality, the real work of creating a fraternal society had just gotten under way. The first Board of Directors consisted of the following members and provided the direction for the DFC Society: Al Ciurczak, Bill Coats, Jack Mates and Wayne Turner.
Ciurczak’s basement served as the initial headquarters for the fledging organization. The formative meetings were held at Ciurczak’s house in Capistrano Beach, California or in the homes of the other board members in San Diego. However, as the group swelled to twenty members, a suitable hotel was found for the gathering of DFC recipients.
While the base of the organization was in Southern California, written communication and telephone correspondence was conducted throughout all fifty states and Canada. As the months progressed, meetings were held and plans were developed for a convention. With the concentration of membership in San Diego, that location seemed the logical selection.
The first convention was held in San Diego, California in October 1996 at the Town and Country Resort Hotel and concluded with a banquet on the final evening. It was attended by 275 people; a number which exceeded all expectations and got the DFC Society off to a successful start. Even more importantly, the organization accomplished its goal of bringing together the first significant group of individuals with a common background and purpose.
As the DFC Society’s membership has grown, so have its goals. In the first decade of its existence, the Society had 4,100 members and created an Honor Roll listing its recipients on the organization’s website. As of the present time, the DFC Society has more than 7,500 active and posthumous members.