The Medal of Honorwas established by Congress on July 6, 1960, as the highest of several awards created specifically for the Air Force. It is given in the name of Congress to officers and enlisted members who distinguished themselves by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives, above and beyond the call of duty, in action involving actual combat with an armed enemy of the United States. It is only presented by the President and is awarded in the name of Congress of the United States.
Award: For Conspicuous Gallantry and Intrepidity at the Risk of Life, Above and Beyond the Call of Duty, in Action Involving Actual Conflict with an Opposing Armed Force.
Medal's Design: by Lewis J. King, Jr., of the Army's Institute of Heraldry. It is a gold finished five pointed star, one point down, tipped with trefoils and each point containing a crown of laurel and oak on a green enamel background. Centered on the star is an annular of thirty-four stars which surround the profile of the head from the Statue of Liberty. The star is surrounded by a green enameled laurel wreath, edged in gold. The medal is suspended from a design, taken from the Air Force coat of arms. In the center is a baton with eagle claws at both ends resting on a pair of aviator's wings emitting thunderbolts from the center. This is attached to a horizontal bar bearing the word "Valor." The reverse of this decoration is blank and suitable for engraving.
Ribbon: Traditional light blue moiré ribbon with five white stars.
History: The first presentation of this Medal of Honor was made at the White House in Washington on Jan. 19, 1967, when the President placed it around the neck of Maj. Bernard F. Fisher, United States Air Force.
The Air Force Medal of Honor has been awarded 12 times for actions during the war in Vietnam. Three of these decorations, to Capt. Steven L. Bennett, Capt. Lance P. Sijan and Capt. Hillard A. Wilbanks were posthumously awarded. Two of the medals were awarded for extraordinary heroism while the recipient's were prisoners of war, one to Captain Sijan and the other to Col. George E. Day who was the most highly decorated officer in the Air Force.
Others who received the medal for their actions
in the war in Vietnam are: Maj. Merlyn Hans Dethlefsen, Capt. James P. Fleming,
Lt. Col. Joe M. Jackson, Sgt John L. Levitow -- the only Air Force enlisted
member to receive the medal, Lt. Col. Leo K. Thorsness, Capt. Gerald O. Young,
and Col. William A. Jones III, who received the medal posthumously.
Pension: Persons on the Medal of Honor Roll and otherwise eligible may, upon application, qualify for a special lifetime pension of $200 per month.
The medal is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor as it is awarded by the Department of Defense "in the name of Congress," although the official and correct title is Medal of Honor.
Award: Awarded for extraordinary heroism, not justifying the award of a Medal of Honor, to any person, who while serving with the U.S. Air Force while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States in not a belligerent party.
Medal's Design: by Eleanor Cox, an employee of the Air Force and was sculpted by Thomas Hudson Jones of the Institute of Heraldry. It is a bronze cross with an oxidized satin finish. Centered on the obverse of the cross is a gold-plated American bald eagle, wings displayed against a cloud formation, (as used on the seal of the Air Force). This design is encircled by a laurel wreath in green enamel, edged in gold. The reverse of the cross is blank and suitable for engraving.
History: The first award of the Air Force Cross was a posthumous presentation to Maj. Rudolf Anderson Jr., For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy from 15 October 1962 to 27 October 1962. The action took place during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cross was presented by President Kennedy to the widow of the major at the White House.
The Ribbon has a very wide center stripe of Brittany blue with narrow stripes of white and red at the edges. Almost identical to the Distinguished Service Cross, except for the lighter blue center stripe, indicating the close connection of these awards.
Defense Distinguished Service Medal 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.
Award: 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.
Design: 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. 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 Distinguished Service Medal is awarded.
Ribbon: The Ribbon has a center stripe of dark red flanked on either side by wide stripes of gold and medium blue.
first Defense Distinguished Service Medal was awarded
to Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, U.S. Army, upon his retirement
as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff.
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was established by Congress on July 6, 1960.
Award: Awarded to members of the United States Air Force who distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the government in a duty of great responsibility, in combat or otherwise.
Designed by Frank Alston of the Institute of Heraldry. The sunburst
design is one of the most striking examples of the medalist's
art and is a radical departure from the designs used
in the Distinguished Service Medals of the other services.
The obverse design has a sunburst of thirteen gold rays
separated by thirteen white enameled stars, with a semiprecious
blue stone in the center. The blue stone in the center
represents the vault of the heavens; the thirteen stars
represent the original colonies and man's chain of achievements.
The sunburst represents the glory that accompanies great
achievements, and the rays depict man's quest for light
and knowledge. The reverse of the medal is plain and
suitable for engraving. The star is suspended from the
ribbon by a wide slotted bar which consists of stylized
wings symbolic of the Air Force.
Ribbon: The Ribbon has a wide center stripe of white flanked on either side by a thin stripe of old gold, a wide stripe of ultramarine blue and a narrow stripe of old gold at the edges.
Silver Star was established by Congress on 9 JUL 18.
Award: Awarded for each Citation received by US Air Force personnel for gallantry in action not sufficient to warrant the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross. The Silver Star is currently awarded by all branches of the armed forces to any person who, while serving in any capacity, 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 forces against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
Designed by the firm of Bailey, Banks and Biddle. On August 8, 1932, the Silver Star was re-designed as a medal by an Act of Congress. This medal, is a gilt-toned star of five points. On the obverse side in the center, is a small silver star (the same size as the original citation star), centered within a wreath of laurel. Eighteen rays radiate from the star to the wreath. The reverse of the star has the inscription, "For Gallantry in Action" in raised letters, below which is a blank area suitable for engraving the recipient's name.
Ribbon: The Ribbon, one of the most striking of all American awards has a wide center stripe of red flanked on either side by a wide stripe of dark blue, a wide stripe of white, a thin stripe of white and a narrow stripe of dark blue at the edges.
Silver Star Medal had its beginning during World
War I. An Act of Congress of July 9, 1918, authorized
the wearing by Army personnel of a small silver star,
3/16 of an inch in diameter, upon the service ribbon
of a campaign medal, to indicate "a citation for gallantry in action, published in orders issued from headquarters of a general officer, not warranting the award of a Medal of Honor or Distinguished Service Cross." Known in the Army as the "citation star," the
award was made retroactive, so that all those cited
for gallantry in action in previous campaigns, even
as far back as the Spanish-American War, were eligible
to wear it.
Award: 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.
Design: 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 thirteen 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, has a narrow center stripe of red, flanked
on either side by equal stripes of white, light blue and
The Legion Of Merit was established by Congress on 20 JUL 42, in four degrees: Chief Commander, Commander, Officer, and Legionnaire; for award to personnel of Armed Forces of friendly foreign nations and personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States and the Philippines. Awarded for actions since the Presidential
Proclamation of Emergency, 8 SEP 39.
Award: For Exceptionally Meritorious Conduct in the Performance of Outstanding Service. Created specifically for award to citizens of other nations, conferred on officers and enlisted men of the armed forces of the United States and on nationals of other counties "who shall have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services" since September 8, 1939, the date of the President's proclamation of the state of emergency that led to World War II. The Legion of Merit may be awarded for combat or noncombat services; in the case of American military personnel, if the award is for combat service it is shown by the wearing of a combat "V."
Designed by COL Townsend Heard, USA.
Legion of Merit established by Act of Congress of 20
JUL 42, amended by an executive order of March 15, 1955.
medal is awarded to any officer or enlisted man of the
armed forces of the United States who shall have distinguished
himself by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918." The
decoration may also be given for an act performed prior
to November 11, 1918, when the individual has been
recommended for, but has not received the Medal of
Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, or
Distinguished Service Medal.
Design: by Elizabeth Will and Arthur E. DuBois. It is
a bronze cross pattee, with rays between the arms of
the cross. On the obverse is a propeller of four blades,
with one blade in each arm of the cross and in the re-entrant
angles of the cross are rays which form a square. The
cross is suspended by a rectangular-shaped bar and
centered on this is a plain shield. The reverse is
blank and suitable for engraving the recipients name
The Ribbon has a narrow red center stripe, flanked on either side by a thin white stripe, a wide stripe of dark blue, a narrow white stripe and narrow dark blue at the edge of The Ribbon. Bronze V device worn to denote Valor/Heroism.
Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded first to Captain
Charles A. Lindbergh, of the U.S. Army Corps Reserve,
for his solo flight of 3600 miles across the Atlantic
in 1927, a feat which electrified the world and made "Lindy" one of America's most popular
heroes. The first D.F.C. to be awarded to a Navy man
was to Commander Richard E. Byrd, of the U.S. Navy
Air Corps, on May 9, 1926, for his exciting flight
to and from the North Pole. Both these famous aviators
also received the Medal of Honor with the Distinguished
Flying Cross. The Aviatrix Amelia Earhart also received
the Distinguished Flying Cross. Hers was the only such
award, as an executive order on March 1, 1927, ruled
that D.F.C. should not be conferred on civilians.
Airman's Medal was established by Congress on 6 JUL 60, for Heroism by those serving with the United States Air Force in any capacity that Involves the Voluntary Risk of Life under conditions Other Than Those of Conflict with an Opposing Armed Force.
decoration, one of several Air Force awards established
by Congress, and takes the place of the Soldier's Medal
for Air Force personnel. 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, shall have distinguished himself or
herself by a heroic act, usually at the voluntary risk
of his or her life but not involving actual combat.
Design: by 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
a falcon, 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
Ribbon: The Ribbon is based on that of the Soldier's Medal but using different colors. In the center are alternating thin stripes of gold and dark blue (seven gold and six dark blue), bordered at the edges with wide stripes of pale (sky) blue.
Award: To Army and Air Force.
Bronze Star Medal was established by Executive Order No. 0410 on 4 FEB 44, awarded to personnel of the US Armed Forces, who on or after 7 DEC 41, distinguished themselves For Heroic or Meritorious Achievement of Service, not involving aerial flight, in connection with Operations Against an Opposing Armed Force.
Award: The award recognizes acts of heroism performed in ground combat if they are of lesser degree than that required for the Silver Star. It also recognizes single acts of merit and meritorious service if the achievement or service is of a lesser degree than that deemed worthy of the Legion of Merit; but such service must have been accomplished with distinction.
Design: Designed by the firm of Bailey, Banks and Biddle, is in the shape of a five-pointed star 1 1/2 inches from point to point. In its center is a smaller raised star. The small star is set on a raised ten-pointed figure, from which rays extend to the points of the outer star, giving the whole a sculptured effect. The reverse of the medal also has a raised center, with rays extending to the five points of the star. Inscribed on this are the words "Heroic or Meritorious Achievement,' encircling a blank space for the recipient's name.
The Ribbon is predominately red, with a narrow blue center stripe flanked on either side by a narrow white stripe, and a narrow white stripe at the outer edge. A bronze "V" on The Ribbon denotes combat service.
The Purple Heart Medal today, is the modern form of the original Purple Heart established by General George Washington in 1782, and is conferred on any person wounded in action while serving with the armed forces of the United States. It is also awarded posthumously to the next of kin of personnel killed or having died of wounds received in action after April 5, 1917.
Award: The Purple Heart is awarded for combat action only, to any member of the Armed Forces killed or wounded in an armed conflict. Second and subsequent awards of the Purple Heart are denoted by a gold star for Navy and Marine Corps personnel and by an oak-leaf cluster for Army and Air Force personnel.
Elizabeth Will and modeled by John R. Sinnock. The heart-shaped
medal, one of the best known and also one of the most
beautiful of our decorations. The inner heart on the
obverse is of purple plastic (originally enamel), and
the sculptured outer heart of gold-colored metal. On
the purple heart General Washington is shown in profile,
facing left, in a relief also of gold-colored metal.
Above this heart is Washington's coat of arms, and enamel
shield of white with two horizontal bands of red, and
above them three red stars with sprays of green leaves
on either side of the shield.
The Ribbon is deep purple with narrow white edges.
History: Originally established by GEN George Washington
on 7 AUG 1782, at Newburgh on the Hudson, New York,
as an award for outstanding military merit, or the
'Badge of Merit'. The decoration was in the form of
an embroidered, heart-shaped badge of purple cloth
and only three non-commissioned officers received the
Order at that time. Though never officially abolished
it was not again awarded for almost one hundred and
In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an Executive Order which provided that the Purple Heart would be made available to members of all the US Armed Services who were wounded in action. Since then the Purple Heart has become one of the most highly respected decorations of the US Armed Forces. The decoration holds a very unique position in that it can be earned in only one way, by being wounded. An attendant requirement is that the wound must have been received as a direct result of enemy actions.
Defense Meritorious Service Medal was established by Executive Order 12019 on November 3, 1977, when President Carter signed the order establishing it. 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.
Award: The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is awarded Exceptionally Meritorious Service in a Duty of Great Responsibility while Assigned to a Joint Activity. 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.
The medal was Designed by Mildred Orloff and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., both of the Institute of Heraldry. It is a 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.
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 purple red edged by a narrow stripe
Award: Outstanding Non-combat Meritorious Achievement or Service to the United States. Established as the counterpart of the Bronze Star Medal for the recognition of meritorious noncombat service.
Jay Morris and sculptured by Lewis J. King, Jr., both
of the Army's Institute of Heraldry. It is a one and
one-half inch medallion in bronze, on the obverse as
eagle wings upraised, standing upon two upward curving
branches of laurel tied with a ribbon between the talons
of the eagle, above and behind the eagle the upper
part of a five-pointed star (with two smaller stars
outlined within) on a incised plaque with six points
starting at the top of each wing of the eagle. The
reverse is plain with a circular inscription in raised
letters, "United States of America" and Meritorious Service" separated
The Ribbon is purplish red with a one and quarter inch white
stripe one-eighth inch from the edge.
Air Medal was established on May 11, 1942, by Executive Order 9158 and amended by Executive Order 9242-A, on Sept. 11, 1942, is given to any person who, while serving with the armed forces of the United States in any capacity subsequent to Sept. 8, 1939, shall have distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.
Award: The Award is given for combat or non-combat action, and conferred in recognition of single acts of heroism or merit for operational activities against an armed enemy, or for meritorious services, or for sustained distinction in performance of duties involving regular and frequent participation in aerial flight. This decoration is the same for all branches of the Armed Forces of the United States. Bronze V device worn to denote Valor/Heroism. Subsequent awards denoted by bronze Arabic numerals.
Designed by Walker K. Hancock, after an open competition. The medal is a bronze compass rose of sixteen points that is surrounded by a fleur-de-lis design in the top point. On the obverse, in the center, is an American Eagle, swooping downward (attacking) and clutching a lightning bolt in each talon. The reverse has a raised disk on the compass rose, left blank for the recipient's name and rank.
The Ribbon has a broad stripe of ultramarine blue
in the center flanked on either side by a wide stripe
of golden orange, and with a narrow stripe of ultramarine
blue at the edge. The original colors of the Army Air
Aerial Achievement Medal was instituted in 1988.
for sustained meritorious achievement while participating
in aerial flight. Considered on a par with the Air
Medal but more likely to be awarded during peace time.
Award: The degree of merit need not be unique but must be distinctive. Bronze V device worn to denote Valor/Heroism in Combat.
the Institute of Heraldry, US Air Force.
The Ribbon has a center stripe of ultramarine blue, flanked
on either side by a wide stripe of white, with a stripe
of ultramarine blue at the center, and a narrow stripe
of blue at the edge.
Award: The medal 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, 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.
Bronze V device worn to denote Valor/Heroism in Combat.
History: Originally established by the Secretary of War as only a ribbon award in 1945, the medal was added in 1949. Awarded to members of the US Air Force, on or after 7 DEC 41.
Joint Service Achievement Medal was 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 Assigned to a Joint Activity after January 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 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
thirteen 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.
Design: by the Institute of Heraldry, US Air Force.
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.
Air Force Achievement Medal was established 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.
Award: The medal may be awarded for acts of heroism which do not meet the requirements for award of the commendation medal.
Designed by Capt. Robert C. Bonn, Jr., USAF. The striking medal's 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. On the reverse of the medal in raised letters is the circular inscription, "Air Force Meritorious Achievement."
The Ribbon has three sets of four vertical stripes of ultramarine
blue on a silver gray background.
Presidential Unit Citation (Air Force and Army) was created by Executive Order 9075 on Feb. 26, 1942, and was superseded by Executive Order 9396 on Dec. 2, 1943, which authorized the Distinguished Unit Citation, and this executive order was superseded by Executive Order 10694, on Jan. 10, 1957 which redesignated the Distinguished Unit Citation as the Presidential Unit Citation.
Award: The Citation is conferred on units of the armed forces of the United States and of cobelligerent nations, for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after Dec. 7, 1941. The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. The degree of heroism required is the same that which would warrant award of the Distinguished Service Cross to an individual.
Army and Air Force Presidential Unit Citation is a dark blue ribbon, 1 3/8 inches wide and 3/8 of an inch high, set in a decorative gold metal frame simulating a laurel wreath.
Air Force Presidential Unit Citation is
slightly smaller than that of the Army, being the regulation size, so that
it can be worn in alignment with other Air Force ribbons.
Joint Meritorious Unit Award is authorized by the Secretary of Defense on June 10, 1981, this award was originally called the Department of Defense Meritorious Unit Award.
Award: It is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to joint activities for meritorious achievement or service, superior to that which is normally expected, for actions in the following situations; combat with an armed enemy of the United States, a declared national emergency, or under extraordinary circumstances that involve national interests.
Joint Meritorious Unit Award ribbon is identical to the Department of Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon, indicative of the fact that the service performed would have been similar to warrant the award of this medal to an individual. It has a center stripe of red, flanked on either side by equal stripes of white, light blue and gold, with a narrow stripe of light blue at the edge.
The Ribbon is within a gold colored 1/16 inch wide metal
frame with laurel leaves. Similar to other Army and Air
Force unit awards, it is worn in the same manner. Additional
awards are indicated by an oak-leaf cluster worn on The
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award was authorized by Department of the Air Force General Order 1, Jan. 6, 1954. It is awarded by the Secretary of the Air Force to units which have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units.
Award: Award to units which have distinguished themselves by Exceptionally Meritorious Service or Outstanding Achievement that clearly above and apart from similar units, the services include; performance of exceptionally meritorious service, accomplishment of a specific outstanding achievement of national or international significance, combat operations against an armed enemy of the United States, or military operations involving conflict with or exposure to hostile actions by an opposing foreign force.
The Ribbon has a narrow red stripe, flanked by a thin white
stripe, a wide blue stripe, a thin white stripe, edged
with a narrow red stripe. A Bronze V device is worn
on The Ribbon to denote award for combat or direct
combat support actions.
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award was authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force on Aug. 26, 1969. The Air Force Organizational Excellence award recognizes the achievements and accomplishments of U.S. Air Force organizations or activities that do not meet the eligibility requirements for the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
Award: Awarded to Air Force internal organizations that are entities within larger organizations. They are unique, unnumbered organizations or activities that perform functions normally performed by numbered wings, groups, squadrons, etcetera.
award is a Ribbon with a narrow blue center stripe,
flanked by a thin white stripe, a wide red stripe,
a thin white stripe, edged with a narrow blue stripe.
A Bronze V device is worn on The Ribbon to denote award
for combat or direct combat support actions.
Prisoner Of War Medal was authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Reagan in 1986. The medal may be awarded to any person who was a prisoner of war after April 5, 1917 (the date of the United States entry into World War One).
Award: Awarded to any person who was taken prisoner or held captive while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force; or while serving with friendly forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The person's conduct, while in captivity, must have been honorable. This medal may be awarded posthumously to the surviving next of kin of the recipient.
Designed by Jay C. Morris of the Institute of Heraldry. On the obverse of the medal is an American eagle, wing folded, and completely enclosed (imprisoned) by a ring a circle and following the outline of the medal. The reverse of the medal has the inscription, "Awarded To" (with a blank area for the recipient's name) "For Honorable Service While a Prisoner of War" in three centered lines. Below this is a shield of the United States, and below, following the curvature of the medal, are the words, "United States of America."
The Ribbon has a very wide center stripe of black, flanked
on either side by a narrow white stripe, thin red stripe,
thin white stripe and a thin stripe of dark blue at the
edge of the medal.
Air Force Combat Readiness Medal was authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force on March 9, 1964, as amended Aug. 28, 1967. Originally created as a personal decoration ranking above the Commendation Medals, Lifesaving Medals and the Purple Heart, its current status has been changed to an achievement/service medal.
to members of the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve,
and to members of other services after Aug. 1, 1960,
for sustained individual combat or mission readiness
or preparedness for direct weapon-system employment.
Specifically, a service member must meet the following
criteria: Complete an aggregate three years of sustained
professional performance as a member of U.S. Air Force
combat or mission-ready units subject to combat readiness
reporting. Or be individually certified as combat or
mission ready and have maintained individual readiness
the entire period according to a major headquarters,
or subject to an individual positional evaluation program
according to a higher headquarters standard. The term "Combat Ready" is
defined as being professionally and technically qualified
in an aircraft crew position in an aircraft that can
be used in combat.
This striking medal was designed by the Institute of Heraldry, on the obverse it has an inverted triangle on top of a delta-swept wing like object, both representing supersonic aircraft. This design is enclosed by a stylized compass rose with triangles at the points indicating the world-wide nature of the mission of the Air Force. The reverse of the medal has the inscription, "For Combat Readiness--Air Force" in a circle, near the outer edge of the medal.
The Ribbon has a wide center stripe of red, flanked on either
side by a narrow stripe of light blue, thin stripe of
dark blue, narrow stripe of light blue with a stripe
of red at the edge.
Air Force Good Conduct Medal was authorized by Congress on July 6, 1960, with the creation of the other medals of the Air Force. The medal was not created until June 1, 1963 when the Secretary of the Air Force established it.
Award: Awarded to Air Force enlisted personnel for exemplary conduct during a three-year period of active military service, (or for a one-year period of service during a time of war). Persons awarded this medal must have had character and efficiency ratings of excellent or higher throughout the qualifying period, including time spent in attendance at service schools, and there must have been no convictions of court martial during this period. Air Force personnel who were previously awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal and after June 1, 1963 qualified for the Air Force Good Conduct Medal could wear both medals.
Designed by Joseph Kiselewski. On the obverse is an American eagle with wings displayed and inverted, standing on a closed book and a Roman sword. Encircling this are the words "Efficiency, Honor, Fidelity" at the medal's outer edge. The reverse has a five-pointed star above a blank scroll suitable for engraving the recipient's name and above the star are the words, "For Good" and below the scroll "Conduct." Is encircled by a wreath of laurel and oak leaves.
The Ribbon is predominantly light blue with a tin stripe
of dark blue, thin stripe of white, thin stripe of red
and a thin stripe of light blue at the edge.
Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Award was originally established as a ribbon bar by the Secretary of the Air Force on April 1, 1964 and was amended on May 1, 1973 when the medal was created.
Award: Awarded for exemplary behavior, efficiency and fidelity during a four-year period while serving in an enlisted status in the U.S. Air Reserve Forces (Air Force Reserve).
This circular bronze medal was designed by the Institute of Heraldry. In the center of the obverse is an American eagle, wings outstretched perched on a wide circle containing a five-pointed star with a disk in the center (like the symbols on early U.S. Aircraft). Above the eagle and between its wing tips is a banner with the words, "Meritorious Service." Around the edge to the left are the words, "Air Reserve" and to the right, the word "Forces" with delta wing shapes on either side of the word. Behind this design are thirteen rays or lines from the center. The reverse of the medal has a cloud design in the center and within this at the top are the wings and thunderbolts of the Air Force Coat of Arms. Below this is the word, "To," and encircling the outer edge of the medal is the inscription, "Exemplary Behavior--Efficiency--Fidelity."
The Ribbon has a very wide light blue center stripe flanked
on either side by a narrow blue stripe, a thin gold stripe,
a narrow blue stripe, a wide white stripe and at the
edges a thin stripe of blue.
Outstanding Airman Of The Year Ribbon was authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force on Feb. 21, 1968.
Award: Awarded to enlisted members of the U.S. Air Force who are nominated by their respective major commands and separate operating agencies for competition in the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year Program. Award of this ribbon is retroactive to June 1960.
The Ribbon has a narrow white center stripe, flanked on either side
by a narrow dark blue stripe, a narrow orange stripe,
and very wide stripe of oriental blue. Subsequent awards
will be denoted by an oak-leaf cluster worn on The Ribbon.
Air Force Recognition Ribbon was authorized by the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force on Oct. 12, 1980.
Award: Awarded to named individual Air Force recipients of special trophies and awards except the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year nominees. Bronze oak-leaf clusters will be worn on the ribbon bar to indicate subsequent awards.
Award Ribbon is predominatingly light blue, with a narrow
center stripe of red, flanked on either side by a wide
stripe of light blue, and thin stripes of white and red
at the edge.
American Defense Service Medal was instituted in 1941.
Awarded for any active duty service.
Award: Only U.S. award authorized for women only. Service with both the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and Women's Army Corps during 1941-1946.
American Campaign Medal was instituted in 1942.
Award: for service outside the U.S. in the American theater for 30 days, or within the continental U.S. for one year.
Europe-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal was instituted in 1942.
Awarded for service in the European-African-Middle Eastern theater for 30 days or receipt of any combat decoration year.
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal was instituted in 1942.
Awarded: for service outside the U.S. in the Asiatic-Pacific theater for 30 days, or receipt of any combat decoration.
World War II Victory Medal was instituted in 1945.
Awarded: for service in the U.S. during the period of 1941-1946.
Army Of Occupation Medal was instituted in 1946.
Awarded for 30 consecutive days of service in occupied territories of former enemies during the periods of 1945-1955; 1945-1990.
Medal For Humane Action was instituted in 1949.
Awarded for 120 consecutive days of service participating in the Berlin Airlift or in support thereof.
National Defense Service Medal was authorized by Executive Order 10448, April 22, 1953, and amended by Executive Order 11256, Jan. 11, 1966.
Award: Awarded for honorable active military service as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States including the Coast Guard, between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954, (Korean War Period) and between Jan. 1, 1961 and Aug. 14, 1974 (Vietnam War Period). Members of the National Guard and Reserves were not usually eligible, however if any member of these units became eligible for the award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the Vietnam Service Medal, between Jan. 1, 1961 and Aug. 14, 1974, the person would be eligible for this medal also.
Designed by the Army of Heraldic Section. The obverse shows the American bald eagle, perched on a sword and palm. Above this, in a semicircle, is the inscription "National Defense." The reverse shows a shield, as it appears in the Great Seal of the United States; it is half encircled below with an oak leaf to left an laurel spray to the right, knotted in the center.
The Ribbon has a wide yellow stripe in the center, flanked
by narrow stripes of red, white, blue, white, wide red
stripes. Service members who earned the medal during
the first qualifying period and who again became entitled
to the medal wear a bronze star on The Ribbon to denote
the second award of the medal.
Korean Service Medal was authorized on Nov. 8, 1950, for members of the United States armed forces for service in Korea.
Awarded: to members of the United States armed forces for service in Korea, 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days between June 27, 1950, and July 27, 1954.
Designed by the Army Heraldic Section. The obverse shows a Korean gateway, encircled by the inscription "Korean Service." On the reverse is a symbol representing the unity of all being, taken from the national flag of Korea. Encircling this is the inscription "United States of America," with a spray of oak at the left joined to a spray of laurel at the right.
The Ribbonis light blue with a thin stripe in the center
and narrow white edges--the colors of the United Nations.
Antarctica Service Medal was established by an Act of Congress on July 7, 1960. The Ribbon was authorized in 1961, and the design of the medal received final approval in 1963.
Awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States, U.S. citizen, or resident alien of the United States, who after Jan. 1, 1946 to a date to be announced, served on the Antarctic continent or in support of U.S. operations there. The first recipients of this award were members of the U.S. Navy operation "High Jump" under the late Admiral R.E. Byrd in 1946 and 1947. Deserving civilians including scientists and polar experts can also be awarded this medal.
Designed by the United States Mint, is a green-gold disc. On the obverse is a heroic figure of a man in Antarctica clothing, with hood thrown back, arms extended, hands closed, and legs spread to symbolize stability, determination, courage and devotion. The figure stands on broken ground, with clouds in the background and mountains in the far distance. The reverse shows a polar projection map of the Antarctic Continent, across with the words "Courage Sacrifice Devotion" set in three centered lines, all within a symbolic circular border of penguins and marine life.
Vietnam Service Medal was established by Executive Order 11213, July 9, 1965.
Award: Awarded to all service members of the Armed Forces who between July 4, 1965 and March 28, 1973, served in the following areas of Southeast Asia: In Vietnam and the contiguous waters and airspace; in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia or the airspace there over or in the direct support of military operations in Vietnam.
Thomas H. Jones, a sculptor and former employee of
the Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army. Centered on the
obverse of the medal is the figure of a dragon, behind
a grove of bamboo trees. Below this design is the inscription, "Republic of Vietnam Service." On the reverse of the medal is a cross-bow (the ancient weapon of Vietnam), surmounted by a lighted torch. Below this, along the outer edge are the words, "United States of America" in
History: There were 17 different campaign periods, but the first, which was called the Vietnam Advisory Campaign, covered the period from March 15, 1962 to March 7, 1964. During this time there were never more than a few thousand U.S. troops involved in Vietnam.
The Ribbon has a thin stripe of red in the center, flanked on either side by a narrow stripe of yellow, thin stripe of red, wide stripe of yellow, and a narrow stripe of green at the edges, or predominately yellow with three red stripes at the center and green stripes at the edges. Campaign stars were worn on The Ribbon to indicate the number of campaigns the recipients served in during their service in Vietnam.
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