Hub Zemke was born on March 14, 1914, in Missoula, Montana. He entered the Flying Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on February 17, 1936, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Randolph Field, Texas, on June 21, 1937. His first assignment was with the 36th Pursuit Squadron of the 8th Pursuit Group at Langley Field, Virginia, and Mitchel Field, New York, from June 1937 to March 1941, followed by service as a military observer in England from March to August 1941. Lt Zemke served as Assistant Military Attache in Moscow, USSR, from August to December 1941, and then served with the 80th Fighter Group at Farmingdale AAF, New York, until September 1942. He became commander of the 56th Fighter Group at Bridgeport AAB, Connecticut, in September 1942, and deployed with the group to England in January 1943. Col Zemke became commander of the 479th Fighter Group in August 1944, and was credited with destroying 17.75 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 2 probables, 9 damaged, and 6.5 on the ground while strafing enemy airfields, before being forced down due to engine trouble and taken as a Prisoner of War on October 30, 1944. After being repatriated in May 1945, he served as assistant chief of staff and executive officer for the 610th Army AFB Unit at Eglin Field, Florida, until January 1946, when he became assistant chief of staff for the 41st Army AFB Unit at Maxwell Field, Alabama. Col Zemke served as Director and then Chief of the Tactics Division at Tyndall Field, Florida, from July 1946 to January 1949, and then as commander of the 36th Fighter Group at Furstenfeldbruck AB, Germany, from January to November 1949. He was chief of staff of the 2nd Air Division at Landsberg AB, Germany, from November 1949 to May 1951, and then Chief of Combat Operations for 12th Air Force at Wiesbaden AB, Germany, until November 1951. Zemke then served on the staff of Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, also at Wiesbaden, from November 1951 to June 1952, followed by Air War College from August 1952 to July 1953. His next assignment was on the staff with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon, where he served from July 1953 to August 1955, and then as commander of the 31st Strategic Fighter Wing at Turner AFB, Georgia, from August to October 1955. He was commander of the 40th Air Division, also at Turner, from October 1955 to March 1957, and then commander of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Laughlin AFB, Texas, until December 1957. Col Zemke next served on the staff of NORAD with Headquarters Air Defense Command at Ent AFB, Colorado, from December 1957 to August 1959, followed by service as Chief of the Air Force Section of the Military Assistance and Advisory Group in Madrid, Spain, from August 1959 to October 1962. His final assignment was as commander of the Reno Air Defense Sector and Reno NORAD Sector at Stead AFB, Nevada, from October 1962 until his retirement from the Air Force on July 31, 1966. Hub Zemke died on August 30, 1994. He was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2002.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in aerial action over Berlin and other enemy territories. Colonel Zemke, on 11 February 1944, attacked a German airdrome, flying into the face of persistent, heavy and accurate defensive fire. He destroyed one enemy aircraft, damaged two others, damaged two airplane hangers and other buildings in the airdrome. Displaying this same cool, calculated courage on 6 March 1944, he attacked a large formation of airborne German fighter aircraft, delivering his attack so skillfully, and with such tenacity of purpose, without thought of personal safety, as to destroy two and probably destroy one other of the enemy's airplanes. Colonel Zemke's courage, coolness and determination greatly contributed to the successes of aerial operations against the enemy and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.