Joel Gentz

Joel Gentz
(awarded posthumously)

58th Rescue Squadron, Nellis AFB
United States Air Force
BSAAE 2007





Joel Gentz graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 2007. Gentz attended Purdue on an ROTC scholarship and after graduation completed the U.S. Air Force's two-year pararescue training program.

Gentz had dreams of becoming an astronaut and piloting the Space Shuttle. He met combat rescue officers through the ROTC program and found the opportunity to help people and save lives compelling. That led him to pursue pararescue training.

Gentz was serving as a first lieutenant when he died in a helicopter crash while on a rescue mission in Afghanistan in June 2010. He was a member of the 58th Rescue Squadron from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

Gentz earned a Purple Heart and Air Force Combat Action Medal for his military service.