Paul Stierwalt was born on April 21, 1932, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on April 18, 1951, and served as an ICBM Rocket Propellent Specialist until cross-training as a Motion Picture Cameraman in April 1955. SSgt Stierwalt served in that career field until again cross-training, this time as an Airborne Radio Operator in April 1961. His first flight crew assignment was as an EC-121 Warning Star airborne radio operator with the 961st Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, from April 1961 to January 1962, followed by service as a radio operator and alternate flight engineer with the Office of the Air Attache in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, from May 1962 to March 1964. During this time, he participated in numerous flights in support of humanitarian relief efforts during the 1963 Skopje, Yugoslavia, earthquake disaster in July and August 1963. His next assignment was as an EC-121 airborne radio operator with the 966th Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron at McCoy AFB, Florida, and deployed to South Vietnam, from April 1964 to February 1967, followed by service as a C-130 Hercules airborne radio operator with Detachment 1 of the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing at Nha Trang AB, South Vietnam, from February to September 1967. TSgt Stierwalt served as a C-130 radio operator with the 779th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from October 1967 to March 1968, and then as a C-123 Provider radio operator with the 319th Air Commando Squadron and the 1st Special Operations Wing at Pope AFB from March to December 1968. His next assignment was as an EC-121 radio operator with the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron of the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from December 1968 to December 1969, followed by service as an MC-130E Combat Talon I radio operator with the 1st Special Operations Wing at Pope AFB from January 1970 until his retirement from the Air Force on May 1, 1971. During this time he served as radio operator aboard the MC-130E "Cherry Two" during the Son Tay Raid, a clandestine mission to rescue American Prisoners of War in North Vietnam on November 21, 1970. Paul Stierwalt died on January 13, 2004.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
Technical Sergeant Paul W. Stierwalt distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force during the Prisoner of War search and rescue operation at Son Tay, North Vietnam, on 21 November 1970. On that date, Sergeant Stierwalt voluntarily participated as a Radio Operator in a combat flight which safely led the Force into Son Tay. With complete disregard for his own safety in the face of intense enemy fire and through his superior skill, Sergeant Stierwalt maintained continuous radio contact throughout the mission. He appraised the commander of mission programs which were essential to the command and control of the mission. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Stierwalt has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.