Dec 07, 2017

TAPS: Mr. Paul S. Kozemchak

10 November 2017, Mr. Paul S. Kozemchak, age 69, died from injuries sustained after being struck by an automobile while crossing the street outside his office in Arlington a week earlier. PK, as he was known to his friends, was among the longest serving members of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he had served for nearly 28 years as an advisor to successive Directors, especially concerning matters related to the Intelligence Community. He also was  personal friend to Naval Intelligence and regular at the famous Willow Restauarant in the Ballston neighborhood.

Over the course of his career, Paul built coalitions between the U.S. government, international partners, private sector, and universities to address some of the most sensitive security and technology issues facing our nation.

Born on February 29, 1948, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Paul was the son of the late Peter J. Kozemchak and Florentina T. (Zahurak) of Emmaus. He attended a Catholic primary school and Liberty High School. During sophomore English class in 1962, he met Stephanie Kozemchak (Sikorski) of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The two dated that summer while Stephanie worked as a lifeguard at the pool near Paul’s childhood home. After high school, Paul went on to pursue undergraduate studies in engineering mechanics at Lehigh University, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. While there, he reconnected with Stephanie, and the two married in 1969. The newlyweds moved to Florida, though Paul returned to Lehigh University to complete a master’s degree in international relations. While working as an experimental engineer in Florida, Paul, ever a risk taker, could often be found feeding peanut butter crackers to the alligators during lunch breaks. Then, the couple headed to Chicago, Illinois, where Paul continued graduate studies in applied mathematics and international relations. At nights, he worked as a computer assistant in Argonne National Laboratory supporting research focused on sickle cell anemia. As a student at the University of Chicago in the early 70s, Paul studied under Dr. Albert Wohlstetter, a leader in nuclear strategy.

In 1974, Paul came to Washington, DC to work as an analyst and strategy advisor, beginning to guide technology implementation and security policy. Paul and Stephanie moved to the Lake Barcroft community in Falls Church, Virginia in 1976, where they started a family. Paul loved spending afternoons on the lake and often remarked on how peaceful he felt there. In 1982, Paul took a position at Pan Heuristics with his mentor, Wohlstetter. While there, he served as the Task Leader for the Department of Defense (DOD) Future Security Strategy Study and advised on the President’s Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy. In 1990, he joined DARPA. There, he was involved in the development of sensor systems, command and control, precision guidance, and stealth technologies that helped realize the “offset strategy” to counter Warsaw Pact advantages in numerical strength.  In his continued work at DARPA, Paul became a strong advocate for the use of advanced technology, as only DARPA could seed for the benefit of national security, together with mathematical analysis, data analytics, and rational analytic thought imbued with historical understanding.

His devotion to counter proliferation and national security was evidenced by his participation as a member of the Expert Advisory Group to the Director of National Intelligence’s (DNI’s) Scientific and Technical Intelligence Committee; the DNI's Intelligence Community Strategic Studies Group; and an advisor to the National Intelligence University. He worked with the National Intelligence Council on Global Trends studies, and served as a government advisor on multiple Defense Science Boards including: DOD 21st Century R&D Strategy; Countering Proliferation (Executive Secretary); Transnational Threats; Desert Storm Lessons Learned; and the Discriminate Use of Force.

He was passionate about making an impact for future generations, while often downplaying his own accomplishments. In 2009, Paul was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service. His continuing contributions lead the US Naval Special Warfare Command (the Navy SEALs) to designate him as an Honorary Frogman in 2016. Paul counseled and mentored countless program managers at DARPA and throughout DOD and the intelligence community; daring them to excel, to allow outlandish ideas due consideration and helping to foster technology and security leadership. In 2017, the National Intelligence University dedicated the Science & Technology Intelligence library in his honor, recognizing Paul’s effort to strengthen the position of current and future intelligence analysts. Paul’s wish, as he put it, would be that they wield the sword of surprise and none of their fights be fair.

Outside of professional settings, Paul enjoyed strategy games and classical music. Ever proud of his family, he cheered the athletic, artistic, and academic pursuits of his children and grandchildren. Paul completed his first Marine Corps Marathon in 1997 and became an avid runner, participating in a number of marathons and races over the last 20 years. He encouraged discourse and debate, earning a reputation as a gadfly by posing provocative questions and challenging experts on their assumptions through his participation in frequent industry and government associations. Paul exhibited a wicked sense of humor and an infectious laugh; those who knew him can almost still hear him saying: “You can’t make this stuff up.” Paul possessed a deep love for others, a profound respect for history, and drive for innovation that he channeled to the cause of leaving the nation safer and the world a better place.

He is survived by three children who were with him to the end; Christopher of Falls Church, Virginia, Kyra Fussell and her husband Jarrett of Annandale, Virginia, Christiana Hardy and her husband Richard of Springfield, Virginia; and five grandchildren, nieces and nephews. His 42-year marriage to Stephanie Kozemchak ended in divorce in 2012.

Visitation will be held at Everly Funeral Home in Falls Church, Virginia on December 3, 2017 in Falls Church to be followed by a memorial gathering at 3:00 pm and then reception. Paul was always proud of the technologies that DARPA contributed to medicine and rehabilitation over the years. He cared deeply about protecting the generations that followed him and had a deep respect for service members. In keeping with those values, the family requests that donations be made to Mobius Bionics & Soldier Strong, Enabling the Future, or Mayo Clinic in lieu of flowers.

His hundreds of friends and colleagues from DARPA, including DARPA alumni, as well as a multitude of associates from the many intelligence community groups that counted him as a constant companion grieve for his loss. A community tribute is being planned for a later date to celebrate PK’s life and role in providing for national security.