George “Zambo” Zamka
George Zamka is a retired US Marine Colonel, former FAA Executive in Commercial Space, and former Astronaut. His ancestry is Milwaukee Polish on his father’s side and Colombian on his mother’s side. As a child he lived in New York City, where he idolized NewYork City firefighters, the 1969 Amazin’ Mets, and the Apollo Astronauts. He got the flying bug as a youngster when his Colombian uncle, a commercial airline pilot, took him flying through the Andes mountains. A seventh grade field trip to the Naval Academy at Annapolis got him interested in serving in the US Navy. At graduation from the Naval Academy years later he decided to pursue the challenge of being one of the Few and the Proud, and he signed onto fly as a Marine Corps pilot, flying in A-6 and F-18 squadrons. After several tours in Marine Corps, he applied for the astronaut program at NASA and got to achieve one of his childhood dreams, that of being an American Astronaut. He got to work with some of the smartest, most adaptable people in the world and had two amazing flights into space (STS-120 in 2007, and STS-130 in 2010) on board the Space Shuttle to the International Space Station. After leaving NASA in 2013, he has served in government and private roles in commercial space and aviation. I addition to rockets and airplanes, George enjoys sports, the outdoors, cars and trucks from Michigan, music and history.
Awards and Accolades
Military: Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Strike Air Medal (six), Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V and various other military service and campaign awards.
NASA: Two NASA Space Flight Medals, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal.
International: Awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
Academic: Distinguished Graduate, United States Naval Academy.
George uses his spaceflight and military experiences to discuss Strategizing, Planning, Decision-Making, Dealing with Adversity, and Team Building with various Government and Business groups. He also likes to inspire people to use their dreams to take them to places that they would otherwise not be able to go.