Duane Vavroch was born in 1947 in Tama, Iowa. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Iowa on May 23, 1970, and went on active duty beginning July 2, 1970. Lt Vavroch next completed Undergraduate Navigator Training and was awarded his navigator wings at Mather AFB, California, in April 1971, followed by Navigator-Bombardier training and B-52 Stratofortress Combat Crew Training before joining the 716th Bomb Squadron at Kincheloe AFB, Michigan, in March 1972. He was forced to eject from his stricken B-52 while flying a bombing mission over North Vietnam on December 26, 1972, and was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 94 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. Capt Vavroch was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Scott AFB, Illinois, and then served as an instructor navigator with the 452nd Flying Training Squadron at Mather AFB from July 1973 until he left active duty on November 22, 1974.
His Distinguished Flying Cross w/Valor Citation reads:
First Lieutenant Duane P. Vavroch distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a B-52 Navigator near Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 26 December 1972. On that date, Lieutenant Vavroch participated in a high-priority bombing mission against a vital military target in heavily-defended areas of North Vietnam. Despite the extreme hazards presented by surface-to-air missiles and hostile interceptors, Lieutenant Vavroch displayed an extraordinary and courageous ability to perform under severe stress and a willingness to place the mission above his personal safety in order to successfully release his ordnance on the designated target. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Vavroch reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.