A decoration is an award given to an individual as a distinctively designed mark of honor denoting heroism, or meritorious or outstanding service or achievement. U.S. military decorations authorized for wear on Army uniforms are listed below in order of precedence. 


Medal of Honor (Army, Navy, and Air Force) 

Medal of Honor (Army, Navy, and Air Force) 

The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of Congress to a person who, while a member of the Army, distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. Incontestable proof of the performance of the service will be exacted and each recommendation for the award of this decoration will be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit. 


Distinguished Service Cross

Distinguished Service Cross

The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army, distinguished himself or herself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of a MOH; while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing or foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The act or acts of heroism must have been so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from their comrades. 


Navy Cross

Navy Cross

The Navy Cross is the second highest military decoration that may be awarded to a member of the United States Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, (and to members of the Coast Guard when operating under the authority of the Department of the Navy). It is awarded for extraordinary heroism: 

  • While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; 
  • While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or 
  • While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. 

Actions that merit the Navy Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not merit award of the Medal of Honor. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross (Air Force).


Air Force Cross

Air Force Cross

The Air Force Cross is the second highest military decoration that may be awarded to a member of the United States Air Force. It is awarded for extraordinary heroism: 

  • While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; 
  • While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or 
  • While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. 

 Actions that merit the Air Force Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not merit award of the Medal of Honor. The Air Force Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps, and Coast Guard when operating under the authority of the Department of the Navy).


Coast Guard Cross

Coast Guard Cross

The President may award a Coast Guard cross of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard, when the Coast Guard is not operating under the Department of the Navy, distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of a medal of honor-

(1) while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;

(2) while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force or international terrorist organization; or

(3) while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.


Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

BACKGROUND

This award was established by Executive Order 11545 on July 9, 1970. A rather unique feature of this decoration is that it is awarded by the Secretary of Defense and has no delegated authority. No one else can even initiate a recommendation; it is awarded solely at the initiative and pleasure of the Secretary of Defense. It is awarded to high ranking military officers (generals or admirals), who perform exceptionally meritorious service in a degree of great responsibility with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Special or outstanding command in a defense agency or for any other joint activities designated by the Secretary of Defense. It is rarely awarded.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal was designed by Mildred Orloff and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., both of the Institute of Heraldry. The medal is gold in color and on the obverse it features a medium blue enameled pentagon (point up). Superimposed on this in an American bald eagle with wings outspread facing left grasping three crossed arrows in its talons and on its breast is a shield of the United States. The pentagon and eagle are enclosed within a gold pieced circle consisting, in the upper half of thirteen five-pointed stars and in the lower half, a wreath of laurel on the left and olive on the right. At the top is a suspender of five graduated gold rays. The reverse of the medal has the inscription For Distinguished Service at the top in raised letters, and within the pentagon the inscription “From the Secretary of Defense to,” all in raised letters.

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon has a center stripe of dark red flanked on either side by wide stripes of gold and medium blue. This decoration takes precedence over the Distinguished Service Medals of the separate services and is not to be awarded to any individual for a period of service for which an Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard DSM is awarded.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster


Distinguished Service Medal (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard)

Distinguished Service Medal (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard)

The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the government in a duty of great responsibility. The performance must be such as to merit recognition for service that is clearly exceptional. Exceptional performance of normal duty will not alone justify an award of this decoration.

For service not related to actual war, the term "duty of great responsibility" applies to a narrower range of positions than in time of war and requires evidence of conspicuously significant achievement. However, justification of the award may accrue by virtue of exceptionally meritorious service in a succession of high positions of great importance.

Awards may be made to persons other than Servicemembers of the Armed Forces of the United States for wartime services only, and then only under exceptional circumstances with the express approval of the President in each case. 


Silver Star

Silver Star

The Silver Star is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for the DSC, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.

Those individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, received a citation for gallantry in action in World War I published in orders issued by a headquarters commanded by a general officer may convert the citation to the SS upon letter application to Commander, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Awards and Decorations Branch (AHRC–PDP–A), 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Fort Knox, KY 40122–5408.

The SS is a valor award and will not be awarded for service. 


Defense Superior Service Medal

Defense Superior Service Medal

BACKGROUND

The Defense Superior Service Medal was established by Executive Order 11904 on Feb. 6, 1976, when President Gerald R. Ford signed the order formally establishing this medal.

 

CRITERIA

The DSSM (pictured above) is awarded by the Secretary of Defense to military officers who perform exceptionally with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, special or outstanding command in a defense agency or any other joint activity designated by the secretary. The service rendered will be similar to that required for award of the Legion of Merit. At the time of its creation it was decided that this medal would be obtained at the lowest possible cost and with as little involvement as possible.

 

For these reasons and because it would rank just below the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for similar service, it was decided to use the same design as the DDSM, except that it would be finished in silver rather than gold and the inscription on the reverse would be properly modified.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal was designed by Mildred Orloff and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., both of the Institute of Heraldry. In the center is a silver-rimmed, light blue enameled pentagon. Surrounding this, at the top, are 13 five-pointed stars, and at the base is a wreath of laurel and olive leaves, superimposed on the pentagon and wreath, is an American eagle facing left with wings outstretched, holding three arrows in its talons. The reverse is inscribed at the top: “For Superior Service,” and on the pentagon: “From The Secretary of Defense To.”

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon has a narrow center stripe of red, flanked on either side by equal stripes of white, light blue and gold.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster


Legion of Merit

Legion of Merit

The Legion of Merit is awarded to any Servicemember of the Armed Forces of the United States or a friendly foreign nation who has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.

Criteria for members of the Armed Forces of the United States are as follows:


(1) The performance must have been such as to merit recognition of key individuals for service rendered in a clearly exceptional manner. Performance of duties normal to the grade, branch, specialty, assignment, or experience of an individual is not an adequate basis for this award.

(2) For service not related to actual war, the term "key individuals" applies to a narrower range of positions than in time of war, which requires evidence of significant achievement. In peacetime, service should be in the nature of a special requirement or of an extremely difficult duty performed in an unprecedented and clearly exceptional manner. However, justification of the award may accrue by virtue of exceptionally meritorious service in a succession of important positions.

(3) Award will be made without reference to degree.
 


Distinguished Flying Cross

Distinguished Flying Cross

The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, distinguished himself or herself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The performance of the act of heroism must be evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty. The extraordinary achievement must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from his or her comrades or from other persons in similar circumstances. Awards will be made only to recognize single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement and will not be made in recognition of sustained operational activities against an armed enemy. 


Soldier's Medal

Soldier's Medal

The Soldier's Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, including RC Soldiers not serving in a duty status, as defined in 10 USC 101(d), at the time of the heroic act, who distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. The same degree of heroism is required as that of the award of the DFC. The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy. Awards will not be made solely on the basis of having saved a life.

A Soldier's Medal recommendation that is downgraded will be approved as an ARCOM. 


Navy and Marine Corps Medal

Navy and Marine Corps Medal

(a)The President may award a medal called the “Navy and Marine Corps Medal” of appropriate design with accompanying ribbon, together with a rosette or other device to be worn in place thereof—

        (1)to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Navy or the Marine Corps, distinguishes himself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy; or

         (2) to any person to whom the Secretary of the Navy, before August 7, 1942, awarded a letter of commendation for heroism, and who applies for that medal, regardless of the date of the act of heroism.

(b)The authority in subsection (a) includes authority to award the medal to a member of the Ready Reserve who was not in a duty status defined in section 101(d) of this title when the member distinguished himself by heroism.


Airman's Medal

Airman's Medal

BACKGROUND

This decoration was established by 10 U.S. Code 8750, on July 6, 1960, and takes the place of the Soldier's Medal for Air Force personnel.

 

CRITERIA

It is awarded to any member of the armed forces of the United States or of a friendly nation who, while serving in any capacity with the United States Air Force after the date of the award's authorization, who have distinguished himself or herself by a heroic act, usually at the voluntary risk of his or her life but not involving actual combat. The saving of a life or the success of the voluntary heroic act is not essential. Do not award for normal performance of duties.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

This medal was designed and sculpted by Thomas Hudson Jones of the Institute of Heraldry. On the obverse of the circular medal is the figure of the Greek god Hermes, son of Zeus, resting on one knee. He has just released from his open hands an American Bald Eagle, shown rising into flight. Within the raised rim of the medal, is the inscription Airman's Medal in raised letters. The reverse of the medal, has a raised outer edge and bears the inscription: “For Valor” above a space for the recipient's name which is within a stylized laurel wreath open at the top and tied at the bottom.

 

The Airman's Medal is unique in that its shape does not follow the octagonal shape of its counterparts, the Soldier's Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Coast Guard Medal. It had been established practice heretofore to design military decorations with a distinctive shape, so that they would not be confused at a distance with service or campaign medals, which are always circular in shape. The reason for this is because the design was originally approved for use as The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal.

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon is based on that of the Soldier's Medal but using different colors. In the center are alternating thin stripes of yellow and ultramarine, (seven and six, respectively) bordered at the edges with wide stripes of brittany blue.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster

 

WEIGHTED AIRMAN PROMOTED SYSTEM POINT VALUE: 5


Coast Guard Medal

Coast Guard Medal

Congress authorized the establishment of the Coast Guard Medal (Public Law 207 of the 81st Congress) on 4 August 1949.  The actual medal was designed by Thomas Hudson Jones of the United States Army's Institute of Heraldry.  As designed, the seal of the Coast Guard appears in the center of a bronze octagon.  The seal is contained within a border of continuous cable.  The octagon shape is copied from the Soldier's Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and the seal in the center refers to Coast Guard service.  The border of continuous cable refers to both naval service and perfection of ideals in the service of man.  The medal's ribbon is decorated with central and edge stripes of light blue and centered on either half of the ribbon is a field of white containing three red stripes.  The colors were adapted from those of the Coast Guard seal.

The Coast Guard Medal is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces who, while serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard, distinguishes himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.  To justify this decoration, the individual must have performed a voluntary act of heroism in the face of great personal danger of such a magnitude that it stands out distinctly above normal expectations.


Bronze Star Medal

Bronze Star Medal

The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Armed Forces of the United States, or a friendly foreign nation, after 6 December 1941, distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military operations against an armed enemy; or while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. 10 USC 1133 limits award of the BSM to Servicemembers receiving imminent danger pay and members of a friendly military force who are serving in a geographic area in which special pay is authorized under 37 USC 310 or 37 USC 351(a) (1) and (3) or special pay under any of the following circumstances:

(1) While engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.
(2) While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.
(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

Awards may be made for acts of heroism, performed under circumstances described above, which are of lesser degree than required for the award of the SS.

When the BSM is awarded for heroism, a bronze letter "V" (for valor) is worn on the suspension and service ribbon of that medal.

A BSM recommendation that is downgraded will be approved as an ARCOM.

The BSM may be awarded for meritorious achievement or meritorious service according to the following: (1) Awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit or meritorious service. The lesser degree than that required for the award of the LM must nevertheless have been meritorious and accomplished with distinction. (2) Award may be made to each Servicemember of the Army who, after 6 December 1941, has been cited in orders or awarded a certificate for exemplary conduct in ground combat against an armed enemy between 7 December 1941 and 2 September 1945, inclusive, or whose meritorious achievement has been otherwise confirmed by documents executed prior to 1 July 1947. For this purpose, an award of the CIB or CMB is considered as a citation in orders. Award of the BSM from these documents will not negate the original award or the CIB or CMB. Documents executed since 4 August 1944 in connection with recommendations for the award of decorations of higher degree than the BSM will not be used as the basis for an award under this paragraph. Veterans and retirees may submit letter application to National Personnel Records Center (NPRC–MPR), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138–1002. Soldiers who retired or were discharged after 1 October 2002 and the primary next of kin of Soldiers who died after 1 October 2002 should send their letter application to Commander, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Awards and Decorations Branch (AHRC–PDP–A), 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Fort Knox, KY 40122–5408. The letter application should include documentary evidence, if possible.

Upon letter application, award of the BSM may be made to eligible Soldiers who participated in the Philippine Islands Campaign between 7 December 1941 to 10 May 1942. Performance of duty must have been on the island of Luzon or the Harbor Defenses in Corregidor and Bataan. Only Soldiers who were assigned or attached to units that were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation (redesignated as the PUC) may be awarded this decoration. Letter application should be sent to National Personnel Records Center (NPRC–MPR), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138–1002. 


Purple Heart

Purple Heart

Army regulations specified the design of the medal as an enamel heart, purple in color and showing a relief profile of George Washington in Continental Army uniform within a quarter-inch bronze border. Above the enameled heart is Washington’s family coat of arms between two sprays of leaves. On the reverse side, below the shield and leaves, is a raised bronze heart without enamel bearing the inscription “For Military Merit.” The 1 11/16 inch medal is suspended by a purple cloth, 1 3/8 inches in length by 1 3/8 inches in width with 1/8-inch white edges.

Army regulations’ eligibility criteria for the award included:

  • Those in possession of a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate issued by the Commander-in Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. (The Certificates had to be exchanged for the Purple Heart.)

  • Those authorized by Army regulations to wear wound chevrons. (These men also had to apply for the new award.)

    The newly reintroduced Purple Heart was not intended primarily as an award for those wounded in action -- the “wound chevron” worn by a soldier on his sleeve already fulfilled that purpose. Establishing the Meritorious Service Citation as a qualification for receiving the Purple Heart was very much in keeping with General Washington’s original intent for the award.

    However, authorizing the award in exchange for “wound chevrons” established the now familiar association of the award with injuries sustained in battle. This was reinforced by Army regulations, which stated that the award required a "singularly meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity service" and that "a wound which necessitates treatment by a medical officer and which is received in action with an enemy, may, in the judgment of the commander authorized to make the award, be construed as resulting from a singularly meritorious act of essential service."

Until Executive Order 9277 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in December 1942 authorized award of the Purple Heart to personnel from all of the military services (retroactive to December 7, 1941), the medal was exclusively an Army award. The Executive Order also stated that the Purple Heart was to be awarded to persons who “are wounded in action against an enemy of the United States, or as a result of an act of such enemy, provided such would necessitate treatment by a medical officer.”

In November 1952, President Harry S. Truman issued an Executive Order extending eligibility for the award to April 5, 1917, to coincide with the eligibility dates for Army personnel.

President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11016 in April 1962 that further extended eligibility to "any civilian national of the United States, who while serving under competent authority in any capacity with an armed force , has been, or may hereafter be, wounded" and authorized posthumous award of the medal.

Executive Order 12464 signed by President Ronald Reagan in February 1984, authorized award of the Purple Heart as a result of terrorist attacks or while serving as part of a peacekeeping force subsequent to March 28, 1973. The 1998 National Defense Authorization Act removed civilians from the list of personnel eligible for the medal.

The Purple Heart is ranked immediately behind the bronze star and ahead of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal in order of precedence.

Possession of the Purple Heart medal does not by itself qualify veterans for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation. However, since November 1999, Purple Heart recipients have been placed in VA’s enrollment priority group 3, unless eligible for the higher priority groups (1 or 2) based on service-connected disabilities. Recipients are also exempt from co-payments for VA hospital care and medical outpatient care, but not from pharmacy co-payments for medications prescribed for non- service connected conditions. 


Defense Meritorious Service Medal

Defense Meritorious Service Medal

BACKGROUND

This medal was established by Executive Order 12019 on Nov. 3, 1977, when President Carter signed the order establishing it. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to military personnel serving with or assigned to a number of joint activities including The Secretary of Defense, Organizations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Headquarters of Joint Commands. Other joint activities and specified commands such as Military Assistance Advisory Groups and Joint Missions; and jointly manned staffs within Allied Command Europe, Allied Command Atlantic, the NATO Military Committee, and military agencies associated with functions of the military or other joint activities as may be designated by the Secretary are also included.

 

CRITERIA

The medal (pictured above) is awarded for noncombat meritorious achievement or service that is incontestably exceptional and of magnitude that clearly places the individual above his peers while serving in one of the assignments for which the medal has been designated.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal was designed by Mildred Orloff and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., both of the Institute of Heraldry. It is one and one-half inches in diameter overall, consisting of a circular wreath of laurel tied with a ribbon at the base. In the center is a pentagon shape; superimposed over the pentagon is an American eagle with wings upraised and overlapping the wreath, standing on the bottom edge of the pentagon. On the reverse the medal has the inscription, "Defense Meritorious Service" in three horizontal lines; and around the bottom are the words, "United States of America," with space between for engraving the recipient's name.

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon has three light blue and two white narrow stripes in the center flanked by a wide stripe of white and wide stripe of purplish red edged by a narrow stripe of white.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster


Meritorious Service Medal

Meritorious Service Medal

It is awarded to any Servicemember of the Armed Forces of the United States or to any member of the armed forces of a friendly foreign nation who has distinguished himself or herself by outstanding meritorious achievement or service.

After 16 January 1969 but prior to 11 September 2001, the MSM is authorized to be awarded only for meritorious service or achievement while serving in a noncombat area.

Effective 11 September 2001 to a date to be determined, the DCS, G–1 granted an exception to policy to award the MSM in a combat theater for noncombat meritorious achievement and service for the Global War on Terrorism era. This exception does not authorize the MSM to be used as an upgrade or downgrade to or from a recommended BSM.

An MSM recommendation that is downgraded will be approved as an ARCOM. 


Air Medal

Air Medal

The Air Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Armed Forces of the United States, who has distinguished himself or herself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight. Awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit or heroism, or for meritorious service as described below:

(1) Awards may be made for acts of heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy or while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party, which are of a lesser degree than required for award of the DFC.

(2) Awards may be made for a single act of meritorious achievement, involving superior airmanship, which are of a lesser degree than required for award of the DFC, but nevertheless were accomplished with distinction beyond that normally expected.

(3) Awards for meritorious service may be made for sustained distinction in the performance of duties involving regular and frequent participation in aerial flight for a period of at least 6 consecutive months (a month is considered 30 calendar days). In this regard, accumulation of a specified number of hours and missions will not serve as the basis for award of the AM. Criteria in paragraph 3–17b(1) concerning conditions of conflict are applicable to award of the AM for meritorious service.

Award of the Air Medal is primarily intended to recognize those personnel who are on current crewmember or non- crewmember flying status which requires them to participate in aerial flight on a regular and frequent basis in the performance of their primary duties. However, it may also be awarded to certain other individuals whose combat duties require regular and frequent flying in other than a passenger status, or individuals who perform a particularly noteworthy act while performing the function of a crewmember, but who are not on flying status as prescribed in AR 600–106. These individuals must make a discernible contribution to the operational land combat mission or to the mission of the aircraft in flight. Examples of personnel whose combat duties require them to fly include those in the attack elements of units involved in air-land assaults against an armed enemy and those directly involved in airborne command and control of combat operations. Involvement in such activities, normally at the brigade and/or group level and below, serves only to establish eligibility for award of the AM; the degree of heroism, meritorious achievement, or exemplary service determines who should receive the award. Awards will not be made to individuals who use air transportation solely for the purpose of moving from point to point in a combat zone.

Numerals, starting with 2, will be used to denote second and subsequent awards of the AM (see para 6–4).

Operators of unmanned aerial vehicles may only be awarded the AM if they are physically on an aircraft during the cited period and meet the above criteria for the AM. The intent of this addition is not to award the AM for unmanned aerial vehicles operations, but rather to recognize unmanned aerial vehicles operators for their actions in flight under conditions that warrant the AM.

All AM recommendations that are downgraded will be approved as an ARCOM. 


Aerial Achievement Medal

Aerial Achievement Medal

BACKGROUND

This decoration, established by the Secretary of the Air Force on Feb. 3 1988, is awarded by the Department of the Air Force to U.S. military and civilian personnel. It is awarded for sustained meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight. The achievements must be accomplished with distinction above and beyond that normally expected of professional airmen. Approval or disapproval authority is delegated to wing commanders for military and Secretary of the Air Force for civilians. Major commands (MAJCOMs) will identify the missions and positions that qualify for this award. HQ USAF/XO must certify MAJCOM criteria.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

In the center of a bronze disc one and three-eighths inches in diameter, an eagle facing to its right is shown with its wings displayed. The tips of the eagle's wings extend beyond the edge bringing the medal to an overall width of one and three-quarters inches. Above the eagle, and following the contour of its upper quarter (but just inside its raised edge), are thirteen five-pointed stars (point up). The stars on either end of this array and the one in the center are larger than the remaining ten. Behind the eagle are two intersecting arcs which cross behind the eagle's head. The eagle is clutching a cluster of six lightning bolts in its talons, and the bottom two extend beyond the rim of the medal forming a triangular configuration of which the bottom leg is the lower rim of the medal.

 

The eagle is the American bald eagle, symbol of the United States, and its wings extending beyond the boundaries of the medal allude to freedom. The thirteen stars allude to the thirteen original colonies and thereby to all of the United States; the arcs represent the flight paths of aircraft, while the lightning bolts represent the Air Force.

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The predominant color of the ribbon to the Aerial Achievement Medal is bird blue, which is bordered on either side by an eighth-inch stripe of golden yellow and edged with flag blue.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster

 

WEIGHTED AIRMAN PROMOTED SYSTEM POINT VALUE: 3


Joint Service Commendation Medal

Joint Service Commendation Medal

BACKGROUND

This decoration, established by the Department of Defense on June 25, 1963, is awarded by the office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other Department of Defense agencies or joint activities reporting through the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Any member of the armed forces who distinguishes himself by meritorious achievement or service while serving in any specified activity after Jan. 1, 1965, is eligible for this award. However, it will not be awarded for any period of service for which any of the Commendation Medals of the branches of the armed forces are given.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal (pictured above) consists of four conjoined hexagons of green enamel. Centered on this is an eagle in gold with outspread wings, grasping three arrows in its talons (as depicted on the seal of the Department of Defense). Above the eagle are 13 gold stars, and at the base is a gold stylized heraldic delineation representing land, sea, and air. This design is enclosed by a circular wreath of laurel bound with bands, also in gold. The reverse has a tablet in the center, suitable for engraving, and the words “For Military Merit.” At the bottom is a sprig of laurel.

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon has a center stripe of laurel green, on either side of which are stripes of white, green, and white, and at the edges wide stripes of light blue.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster


Army Commendation Medal

Army Commendation Medal

The ARCOM is awarded to any Servicemember of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving in any capacity with the Army after 6 December 1941, distinguishes himself or herself by heroism, meritorious achieve- ment, or meritorious service. Award may be made to a member of the armed forces of a friendly foreign nation who, after 1 June 1962, distinguishes himself or herself by an act of heroism, extraordinary achievement, or meritorious service, which has been of mutual benefit to a friendly nation and the United States.

The ARCOM may be awarded for combat related service or achievement after 29 February 1964.

Awards of the ARCOM may be made for acts of valor performed under circumstances described above which are of lesser degree than required for award of the BSM. These acts may involve aerial flight.

The ARCOM may be awarded for acts of noncombatant-related heroism which do not meet the requirements for an award of the SM or for acts of aerial flight which do not meet the requirements for award of the AM.

The ARCOM will not be awarded to general officers.

Award of the ARCOM may be made to any individual commended after 6 December 1941 and before 1 January 1946 in a letter, certificate, or order of commendation, as distinguished from letter of appreciation, signed by an officer in the rank or position of a MG/O–8 or higher. Veterans and retirees may submit letter applications to National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138–1002. Soldiers who retired or were discharged after 1 October 2002 will send their letter application to Commander, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Awards and Decorations Branch (AHRC–PDP–A), 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Fort Knox, KY 40122–5408. Awards of the Army Commendation Ribbon and of the Commendation Ribbon with Metal Pendant were redesignated by DAGO 1960–10, as awards of the ARCOM, without amendment of orders previously issued. 


Navy Commendation Medal

Navy Commendation Medal

Eligibility Requirements. Awarded to individuals (including foreign military personnel) who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps, distinguish themselves on or after 7 December 1941, by heroic or meritorious achievement or service. To merit this award, the acts or services must be accomplished or performed in a manner above that normally expected, and sufficient to distinguish the individual above those performing similar services as set forth in the following:

(1) HeroicAchievementorService. Act(s)of heroism worthy of special recognition, but not to the degree required for the Bronze Star Medal when combat is involved, or the Navy and Marine Corps Medal when combat is not involved.

(2) Meritorious Achievement or Service. A single achievement or a period of service worthy of special recognition, but not to the degree required for the Bronze Star Medal or Air Medal when combat is involved, or the Meritorious Service Medal or Air Medal when combat is not involved.

(a) An award for meritorious service may cover an extended period of time; such award does not preclude an additional award for a specific act within that period, if warranted. The criteria, however, should not be the period of service involved, but rather the circumstances and conditions under which the service was performed.

(b) The performance should be well above that usually expected of an individual commensurate with his or her grade or rate, and above that degree of excellence that can be appropriately reflected in.the individual's fitness report, performance evaluation, or personnel record.

c. Combat Distinguishing Device. The Combat Distinguishing Device may be authorized for this award 


Air Force Commendation Medal

Air Force Commendation Medal

BACKGROUND

This medal was authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force on March 28, 1958, for award to members of the armed forces of the United States who, while serving in any capacity with the Air Force after March 24, 1958, shall have distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement and service. The degree of merit must be distinctive, though it need not be unique. Acts of courage which do not involve the voluntary risk of life required for the Soldier's Medal (or the Airman's Medal now authorized for the Air Force) may be considered for the Air Force Commendation Medal.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal (pictured above) is a bronze hexagon, with one point up, centered upon which is the seal of the Air Force, an eagle with wings spread, facing left and perched upon a baton. There are clouds in the background. Below the seal is a shield bearing a pair of flyer's wings and a vertical baton with an eagle's claw at either end; behind the shield are eight lightning bolts.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster and V Device (if applicable)

 

WEIGHTED AIRMAN PROMOTED SYSTEM POINT VALUE: 3


Coast Guard Commendation Medal

Coast Guard Commendation Medal

Eligibility requirements. May be awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Coast Guard, including foreign military personnel, distinguishes him or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service. To merit this award, the acts or services must be accomplished or performed in a manner above that normally expected and sufficient to distinguish the individual above others of comparable grade or rating performing similar services, as set forth in the following:

  1. For acts of heroism worthy of special recognition but not to the degree required for the Bronze Star Medal when combat is involved; or the Coast Guard Medal or MSM when combat is not involved;

  2. For meritorious achievement that is outstanding and worthy of special recognition, but not to the degree required for the Bronze Star Medal or Air Medal when combat is involved; or the LOM, MSM or Air Medal when combat is not involved. The achievement should be such as to constitute a definite contribution to the Service, such as an invention, or improvement in design, procedure, or organization;

  3. For meritorious service that is outstanding and worthy of special recognition but not to the degree required for the Bronze Star Medal or Air Medal when combat is involved; or the MSM or Air Medal when combat is not involved. The award may cover an extended period of time during which another award may have been recommended or received for a specific act or acts. The criteria, however, should not be the period of service involved, but rather the circumstance and conditions under which the service was performed. The performance should be well above that usually expected commensurate with an individual’s rank or rate. If the meritorious service is not sufficient to warrant the award of a CGCM, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal (CGAM) should be considered.

  4. Standard opening phrases for citations: “. . . is cited for (heroic or outstanding) achievement while . . .”

  5. Standard closing phrase for citations: “. . . dedication, judgment, and devotion to duty are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.” 


Joint Service Achievement Medal

Joint Service Achievement Medal

BACKGROUND

Established on Aug. 3, 1983, this award was established by and is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense for either outstanding achievement or meritorious service and takes precedence before the achievement medals of the military services. It may not be awarded for any act or period of service which an Achievement Medal of a military service is awarded, and it should not be awarded for retirement.

 

CRITERIA

To be eligible for this award, the individual must be a member of the armed forces of the United States below the grade of O-6, and assigned to a qualifying organization such as The defense agencies, Headquarters of Unified Commands, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The required service or achievement, while of a lesser degree than that required for award of the Joint Service Commendation Medal, must have been accomplished within distinction.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal was designed by Jay Morris and sculpted by Donald Borja, both of the Institute of Heraldry. It is a star of 12 points, on the obverse is an American bald eagle, facing left with wings spread, grasping three arrows and a shield upon its breast as adapted from the seal of the Department of Defense. The reverse of the medal is plain with the inscription, “Joint Service Achievement Award” in raised letters in circular form in the center.

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon has a center stripe of red flanked on either side by a wide stripe of light blue and equal stripes of white, green, white and dark blue at the edge.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster


Army Achievement Medal

Army Achievement Medal

The Army Achievement Medal is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States, or to any member of the armed forces of a friendly foreign nation, who distinguished himself or herself by meritorious service or achievement of a lesser degree than required for award of the ARCOM.

The AAM will not be awarded to general officers.

Effective 11 September 2001 to a date to be determined, the DCS, G–1 granted an exception to policy to award the AAM in a combat theater for noncombat meritorious achievement and service for the Global War on Terrorism era. 


Navy Achievement Medal

Navy Achievement Medal

Eligibility Requirements. Awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the grade of lieutenant commander or major and junior thereto, for service performed on or after 1 May 1961. The award may be authorized for meritorious service or achievement in a combat or non-combat situation, based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature, and shall be of such merit as to warrant more tangible recognition than is possible by a fitness report or performance evaluation, but which does not warrant a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

(1) Professional achievement that merits the award must: 

     (a) Clearly exceed that which is normally required or expected, considering the individual's grade or rate, training, and experience; and,

     (b) Be an important contribution of benefit to the United States and the Naval Service.

(2) Leadership achieyement that merits the award must:

     (a) Be noteworthy;

     (b) Be sustained so as to demonstrate a high state of development or, if for a specific achievement, be of

          such merit as to earn singular recognition for the act(s); and,

     (c) Reflect most creditably on the efforts of the individual toward the accomplishment of the unit mission.

c. Limitations. The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal will not be awarded for service involving participation in aerial flight after 1 January 1969. The Air Medal is the more appropriate recognition for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight. This does not preclude award of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal to individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for service during which participation in aerial flight was incidental.

d. CombatDistinguishingDevice. TheCombat Distinguishing Device was authorized for service subsequent to 17 July 1967, and discontinued in April 1974; it was reauthorized on 17 January 1991. 


Air Force Achievement Medal

Air Force Achievement Medal

BACKGROUND

This award was authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force on Oct. 20, 1980. It is awarded to Air Force personnel for outstanding achievement or meritorious service rendered specifically on behalf of the Air Force. It may also be awarded for acts of courage lesser than for award of the Air Force Commendation Medal (AFCM). 

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The distinctive outer border of this medal is composed of 11 cloudlike shapes, centered on the obverse a medallion portraying thunderbolts and wings, signifying striking power through aerospace, adapted from the Seal of the Air Force. This striking medal was designed by Capt. Robert C. Bonn, Jr., USAF. On the reverse of the medal in raised letters is the circular inscription, “Air Force Meritorious Achievement.”

 

RIBBON DESCRIPTION

The ribbon has three sets of four vertical stripes of ultramarine blue on a silver gray background.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Oak Leaf Cluster and Valor "V" Device

 

WEIGHTED AIRMAN PROMOTED SYSTEM POINT VALUE: 1


Coast Guard Achievement Medal

Coast Guard Achievement Medal

Eligibility requirements. May be awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Coast Guard, including foreign military personnel, distinguishes him or herself for professional and/or leadership achievement in a combat or non-combat situation based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature which must be of such merit as to warrant more tangible recognition than the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation (LOC) Ribbon, but which does not warrant a Coast Guard Commendation Medal or higher award.

(1)  Professional achievement: To merit the award, professional achievement must clearly exceed what is normally required or expected, considering the individual’s rank or rate, training and experience, and must be an important contribution that is beneficial to the United States and the United States Coast Guard.

(2)  Leadership achievement: To merit the award, leadership achievement must be noteworthy and sustained or, if for a specific achievement, be of such merit as to earn singular recognition; and reflect most creditably on the individual’s efforts towards mission accomplishment.

(3) Standard opening phrases for citations: “. . . is cited for superior performance of duty while . . .”

(4) Standard closing phrase for citations: “. . . diligence, perseverance, and devotion to duty are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.” 


Combat Action Ribbon (Navy and Marine Corps, and Coast Guard)

Combat Action Ribbon (Navy and Marine Corps, and Coast Guard)

Eligibility requirements. This may be awarded to any military person of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard, when the U.S. Coast Guard or units thereof operate under the control of the U.S. Navy, in the grade of captain and junior, who have actively participated in ground or surface combat. Personnel who earned the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) or Combat Medical Badge (CMB) while a member of the U.S. Army may be authorized to wear the Combat Action Ribbon in lieu of the CIB or CMB upon submission of evidence of having earned the CIB or CMB. The principal eligibility criteria is that the individual must have participated in a ground or surface combat firefight or action during which the individual was under enemy fire and performance while under fire must have been satisfactory. The Combat Action Ribbon is intended to be restrictive and awarded only in bona fide cases of combat and not as a campaign ribbon. The Department of the Navy has determined that receipt of the Combat Action Badge (CAB) does not qualify an individual for the Combat Action Ribbon. The following amplifying remarks are furnished as guidance:

  1. Personnel in riverine and coastal operations, assaults, patrols, sweeps, ambushes, convoys, amphibious landings, and similar activities who have participated in firefights are eligible.

  2. Personnel assigned to areas subjected to sustained mortar and artillery attacks and who have actively participated in retaliatory or offensive actions are eligible.

  3. Personnel in clandestine or special operations such as Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), reconnaissance, and SEAL teams are eligible when the risk of enemy fire was great and is expected to be encountered.

  4. Personnel aboard a ship are eligible when the safety of the ship and the crew were endangered by enemy attack, such as a ship hit by a mine or a ship engaged by shore, surface, air, or subsurface elements.

  5. Personnel eligible for the award of the Purple Heart Medal would not necessarily qualify for the Combat Action Ribbon.

  6. The Combat Action Ribbon will not be awarded to personnel for aerial combat; however, a pilot or crewmember forced to escape or evade after being forced down would be eligible for the award.

  7. The Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps may delegate authority to award the Combat Action Ribbon to commanders of flag or general officer ranks. Delegated authorities will forward copies of correspondence authorizing the award of the Combat Action Ribbon to the Chief of Naval Operations or the Commandant of the Marine Corps for record purposes. The original of all correspondence authorizing the award to Coast Guard personnel will be transmitted to the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard for final action. The Commandant is delegated authority to award the Combat Action Ribbon to Coast Guard personnel serving under control of the U.S. Navy. 


Air Force Combat Action Medal

Air Force Combat Action Medal

BACKGROUND

On March 15, 2007, the Secretary of the Air Force approved the establishment of the Air Force Combat Action Medal to recognize any military member of the Air Force (airman basic through colonel), who actively participated in either air or ground combat.

 

CRITERIA

The principle eligibility criterion is that the individual must have been under direct and hostile fire while operating in unsecured space (defined as outside the defended perimeter), or physically engaging hostile forces with direct and lethal fire.

 

The Commander, Air Force Forces (COMAFFOR) is the award authority for the AFCAM. The award criteria for the AFCAM are similar to that of other U.S. services, but are more specific with regard to combat conditions criteria.  Personnel who earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, or Combat Action Ribbon while assigned with the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps may submit a copy of that award, along with other documentation required in this message, to the COMAFFOR for consideration for award of the AFCAM. The AFCAM may be awarded to members from the other U.S. armed forces and foreign military members serving in a U.S. Air Force unit, provided they meet the award criteria.

 

Combat Conditions Defined: For purposes of this award, the combat conditions are met when:

 

-Individual(s) deliberately go outside the defended perimeter to conduct official duties, either ground or air, and

-Come under enemy attack by lethal weapons while performing those duties, and

-Are at risk of grave danger

 

Or:

-Individual(s) are defending the base (on the defended perimeter), and

-Come under fire and engage the enemy with direct and lethal fire, and

-Are at risk of grave danger, and also meet the intent of the combat conditions for this award.

 

Additionally, personnel in ground operations who actively engage the enemy with direct and lethal fire may qualify even if no direct fire is taken, as long as there was risk of grave danger and other criteria are met.  Central to the integrity of this combat recognition is the adherence to these combat conditions prerequisites.

 

Criteria - Ground:

 

Individual(s) must be in combat conditions as defined above.  Combat must take place in a combat zone defined as a geographic area designated by the President via Executive Order, or a qualified hazardous duty area in which a member is receiving Imminent Danger Pay or Hostile Fire Pay (IDP/HFP). Individual must be physically present, at risk of grave danger, and performing in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement.

 

Personnel outside the defended perimeter must be fired upon by the enemy with lethal weapons; returning fire is situation dependent and not necessarily a precondition of award. Risk of grave danger to the individual must be detailed in the award submission.

 

Encampments, compounds, and protected areas inside the defended perimeter will normally not qualify as venues for this award unless the individual is serving in a defensive capacity, taking fire, and engaging the enemy. Augmenting a defensive fighting position and taking fire, regardless of official duties, would also qualify as combat action if all other criteria were met. Receiving mortars, responding to alarm conditions, reporting to bunkers, etc., do not independently constitute combat action for the purpose of this award. However, should combat conditions arise out of such events, then exceptions to policy with full justification can be submitted.

 

Personnel eligible for the award of the Purple Heart do not automatically qualify for the AFCAM. Purple Heart recipients must apply for the AFCAM through the appropriate award channels.

 

Criteria - Air:

 

Individual(s) must be flying as authorized aircrew members on aeronautical orders in direct support of a combat zone and in combat as defined in the above combat conditions.  Combat must take place in a combat zone defined as a geographic area designated by the president via Executive Order, or a qualified hazardous duty area in which a member is receiving Imminent Danger Pay or Hostile Fire Pay (IDP/HFP). Individual(s) must be physically present, at risk of grave danger, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement.

 

Individual must be performing assigned duties. Passengers traveling, including aircrew manifested as passengers, on an aircraft which comes under enemy fire, are not eligible based solely on their presence on the aircraft.

 

The AFCAM may be awarded for qualifying service from Sept. 11, 2001 to a date to be determined. Retroactive awards prior to Sept. 11, 2001 are not authorized.

 

There is no minimum time-in-theater requirement to qualify for the AFCAM. Only one AFCAM may be awarded during a qualifying period. Subsequent qualifying periods will be determined by the Secretary of the Air Force (SECAF). Only one award per operation is authorized. Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM are considered one operation. Subsequent operations will be approved by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and will be indicated by the use of the Gold Star on the ribbon and medal.

 

Requests for exceptions to policy established here or in future instructions must be justified and forwarded through command channels. The requesting member's home station will route requests through MAJCOM/CC to the COMAFFOR to AF/CV. AF/CV has been designated decisional authority by SECAF for all AFCAM Exception to Policy requests.  In-theater requests for exception will route through COMAFFOR to AF/CV.

 

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

The medal is designed to evoke Air Force heritage, scarlet with diagonal yellow stripes - adapted from the art insignia on the aircraft of Gen. Billy Mitchell, who coordinated the first air-to-ground offensive in history. Further, the AFCAM features an eagle grasping arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other, the arrows reflecting preparedness for war while the olive branch represents a goal of peace.

 

AUTHORIZED DEVICES

Gold Star

 

WEIGHTED AIRMAN PROMOTED SYSTEM POINT VALUE: 0