Hector Acosta was born in 1949 in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from St. Mary's University in San Antonio and then entered Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, receiving his commission as a 2d Lt on August 18, 1970. Lt Acosta next attended Undergraduate Pilot Training, but did not complete the course, and later completed Undergraduate Navigator Training, receiving his Navigator Wings in September 1971. He then completed Weapon Systems Operator training in the RF-4C Phantom II before serving with the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from November 1971 to July 1972. Lt Acosta deployed to Southeast Asia where he served with the 14th TRS at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from July 1972 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam on December 9, 1972. He was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War the next day, December 10, and was held in captivity until being released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. After being hospitalized briefly to recover from his injuries, Capt Acosta served as an instructor navigator with the 452nd Flying Training Squadron at Mather AFB, California, from August 1973 to August 1977. He then received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to New Mexico State University, where he received his Master's Degree in Experimental Psychology in June 1981. Maj Acosta then served as Chief, Experimental Testing Function, in the Manpower and Personnel Division of the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory at Brooks AFB, Texas, from June 1981 to August 1984, followed by Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1984 to June 1985. Col Acosta then attended RF-4C Weapon Systems Officer training before serving as Chief of Safety for the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Zweibruecken AB, West Germany, from February 1986 to February 1989. He then returned to Brooks AFB, where he served as Chief of the Research and Technology Development Division with Headquarters Air Training Command from February 1989 to April 1992, and then as a Scientific Manager at Armstrong Laboratory until his retirement from the Air Force on August 31, 1998. After retiring from the Air Force, Hector earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology in May 2004 from New Mexico State University, and he has worked for Northrop Grumman Information Technology since 2001.
His 2nd Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
First Lieutenant Hector M. Acosta distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an RF-4C Weapon Systems Officer near Quang Khe, North Vietnam, on 3 December 1972. On that date, Lieutenant Acosta skillfully planned and flew a mission assigned to obtain photography of several heavily defended lines of communication leading out of Quang Khe. Maneuvering to avoid intense anti-aircraft artillery, Lieutenant Acosta obtained excellent photography which revealed three anti-aircraft artillery sites and five large supply storage areas. The professional competence, aerial skill and devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Acosta reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.