U.S. Army Medals & Awards 

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Military Decoration

 Description of Award

Silver Star

 


For each Citation received by US Army personnel for gallantry in action, not sufficient to warrant the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross, a 'Silver Star', 3/16-inch in diameter was authorized for wear on the suspension and service ribbons of appropriate service medals (World War I Victory Medal). This award was called the 'Citation Star'. On 08 AUG 1932, this decoration was revised by Congress and redesigned to its present form.

"For Gallantry in Action Against an Opposing Armed Force."

Second and subsequent awards are denoted by bronze Oak Leaf Clusters;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.

Distinguished Flying Cross
"For Heroism or Extraordinary Achievement while Participating in Aerial Flight."

Second and subsequent awards are denoted by bronze Oak Leaf Clusters;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.

Solders Medal
"For Heroism by those serving with the US Army in any capacity that Involves the Voluntary Risk of Life under conditions Other Than Those of Conflict with an Opposing Armed Force."  
The SM is awarded for heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. The SM may be awarded to members of other service branches or friendly foreign nations when the act of heroism occurs while serving in a capacity with the U.S. Army.

The same degree of Heroism is required as for the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Second and subsequent awards are denoted by bronze Oak Leaf Clusters;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.
Bronze Star
"For Heroic or Meritorious Achievement of Service, not involving aerial flight,

in connection with Operations Against an Opposing Armed Force."
A Bronze "V" device worn to denote Valor/Heroism.

Second and subsequent awards are denoted by bronze Oak Leaf Clusters;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.
Purple Heart


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.

Second and subsequent awards are denoted by bronze Oak Leaf Clusters;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.

Meritorious Service Medal

 


"Outstanding Non-combat Meritorious Achievement or Service to the United States"

by any member of the US Armed Forces. Some portion of the completed service or achievement must have been made on or after 16 JAN 1969. In actuality, this decoration could be described as a 'fifth class' or grade of the Legion of Merit and finally one that could be awarded to enlisted personnel. This is exemplified by the reversal of the color (red-purple instead of purple-red) of the ribbon of the Legion of Merit.

Second and subsequent awards are denoted by bronze Oak Leaf Clusters;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.

Air Medal
&
Air Medal w/ V

"For Meritorious Achievement while Participating in Aerial Flight."

Bronze "V" device worn to denote Valor/Heroism.

Subsequent awards denoted by bronze arabic Numerals.
Oak Leaf Clusters were initially used to denote subsequent awards of the Air Medal, but
the numbers of additional awards became so great that the OLC's did not fit on the ribbon.
As a result, the policy was changed, in September 1968, to require the use of Numerals.

Army Commendation Medal
"For Heroism, Meritorious Achievement, or Meritorious Service"

Bronze "V" device worn to denote Valor/Heroism in Combat.
Second and subsequent awards are denoted by bronze Oak Leaf Clusters;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.

Army Good Conduct Medal


"For enlisted personnel who, on or after 27 Aug 1940, had or shall have honorably completed three years of active  federal military service, or who, after 7 Dec 1941, have or shall have honorably served one year of federal military service while the United States is at war."

A metal clasp; 1/8-inch by 1 3/8-inches; of bronze, silver, or gold; indicates second and subsequent award.
 
08 Feb 2005; For Reserve Component Soldiers mobilized onto active duty, service for the GCM begins the first day on active duty and ends the last day of active duty.  The service for the ARCAM ends the first day of active duty and starts over from day one on the day after the Soldier is off active duty.

National Defense Medal

 


Awarded for honorable active service of any length, during the national emergency, from:
bullet27 Jun 1950 to 27 Jul 1954
bullet01 Jan 1961 to 14 Aug 1974
bullet02 Aug 1990 to 30 Nov 1995
bullet11 Sep 2001 to Date to be Announced

Persons on active duty for reasons other than 'extended active duty' are not eligible.
Subsequent awards are designated by bronze service stars.

Army Service Ribbon
Established by the Secretary of the Army 10 APR 1981 and effective 01 AUG 1981,
the Army Service Ribbon is awarded to members of the US Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve who have successfully completed initial entry training.

Officers receive the ribbon upon completion of their basic orientation or higher level course.
Those officers assigned a specialty, special skill identifier, or MOS based on civilian or other-service acquired skills are eligible for the ribbon after completion of four months honorable active service.

Enlisted personnel are eligible upon completion of initial MOS-producing courses.
For those enlisted personnel assigned an MOS based on civilian or other-service acquired skills, it is awarded after four months of honorable active service.

This ribbon is retroactive during the individual's service as long as service continued to or past 01 AUG 1981.

Overseas Service Ribbon
Established by the Secretary of the Army 10 APR 1981 and effective 01 AUG 1981,
the Overseas Service Ribbon is awarded to members of the US Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve credited with a normal overseas tour completed in accordance with AR 614-30.


A soldier who has overseas service credited by another armed service is eligible for this ribbon.

The ribbon is not authorized for completion of an overseas tour of duty
for which a service medal has been authorized.

Second and subsequent awards of the ribbon are designated by bronze Arabic Numerals.

This ribbon is retroactive during the individual's service as long as service continued to or past 01 AUG 1981.

VN Campaign Medal


The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal is awarded to personnel who meet one of the following requirements:

    a. Served in the Republic of Vietnam for six months during the period of 1 March 1961 and 28 March 1973.
    b. Served outside the geographical limits of the Republic of Vietnam and contributed direct combat support to the Republic of Vietnam and Armed Forces for six months. Such individuals must meet the criteria established for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (for Vietnam) or the Vietnam Service Medal, to qualify for the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
    c. Six months service is not required for individuals who were wounded by hostile forces; killed in action or otherwise in line of duty; or captured by hostile forces.

Background: a. The Secretary of Defense approved a request for approval of foreign awards to US Military personnel on 7 February 1966. As a result of this approval, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with device bar (1960- ) was awarded to US Armed Forces personnel by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam per Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Order No. 48, dated 24 March 1966. The acceptance, criteria and description was announced in the Federal Register, Volume 31, No. 147, 30 July 1966 (Title 32, Code of Federal Regulation 47).

    b. The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Memorandum 2655 prescribed there were two devices to be worn on the ribbon. The first device was for the period 8 March 1949 - 20 July 1954 and is not authorized for wear by American Military Personnel. The second period was from 1 January 1960 with the last period to be decided after the war was over. The ending period remains blank, since the Republic of Vietnam Government ceased to exist before the ending period was established. The devices for the medal are in two sizes - - the large size is 1 13/64 inches in width and is worn on the suspension ribbon of the full size decoration. The regular size is 19/32 inch wide and is worn on the miniature decoration and service ribbon bar.

    c. Since the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal is a foreign award, it is not issued by the United States Government. The medal may be purchased from commercial sources.

 

Vietnam Service Medal


Established by order of the President on 01 Oct 1965, for service in Vietnam

and contiguous waters or airspace after 03 Jul 1965 and through 28 Mar 1973.
Service in direct support of Vietnam from Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia is also eligible.

One bronze service star may be worn for each campaign;
one silver service star in lieu of five bronze:

bulletAdvisory -- 15 Mar 1962-07 Mar 1965
bulletDefense -- 08 Mar 1965-24 Dec 1965
bulletCounteroffensive -- 25 Dec 1965-30 Jun 1966
bulletCounteroffensive, Phase II -- 01 Jul 1966-31 May 1967
bulletCounteroffensive, Phase III -- 01 Jun 1967-29 Jan 1968
bulletTet Counteroffensive -- 30 Jan 1968-01 Apr 1968
bulletCounteroffensive, Phase IV -- 02 Apr 1968-30 Jun 1968
bulletCounteroffensive, Phase V -- 01 Jul 1968-01 Nov 1968
bulletCounteroffensive, Phase VI -- 02 Nov 1968-22 Feb 1969
bulletTet 69 Counteroffensive -- 23 Feb 1969-08 Jun 1969
bulletSummer-Fall 1969 -- 09 Jun 1969-31 Oct 1969
bulletWinter-Spring 1970 -- 01 Nov 69-30 Apr 1970
bulletSanctuary Counteroffensive -- 01 May 1970-30 Jun 1970
bulletCounteroffensive, Phase VII -- 01 Jul 1970-30 Jun 1971
bulletConsolidation I -- 01 Jul 1971-30 Nov 1971
bulletConsolidation II -- 01 Dec 1971-29 Mar 1972
bulletCease-Fire -- 30 Mar 1972-28 Jan 1973
The Valorous Unit Award
[VUA]

The Valorous Unit Award is to be awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed 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 part for actions occurring on or after 3 August 1963.  The Valorous Unit Award requires a lesser degree of gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps than that required for the Presidential Unit Citation. Nevertheless, the unit must have performed with marked distinction under difficult and hazardous conditions in accomplishing its mission so as to set it apart from the other units participating in the same conflict.  The degree of heroism required is the same as that which would warrant award of the Silver Star to an individual.  Extended periods of combat duty or participation in a large number of operational missions, either ground or air, is not sufficient. This award will normally be earned by units that have participated in single or successive actions covering relatively brief time spans. It is not reasonable to presume that entire units can sustain Silver Star performance for extended time periods under the most unusual circumstances. Only on rare occasions will a unit larger than a battalion qualify for this award.

The emblem is a scarlet ribbon with the Silver Star color design superimposed in the center.

Second and subsequent awards are denoted by wear of the bronze Oak Leaf Cluster;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.

The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army)
[MUC]

Awarded for, at least, six months of exceptionally meritorious conduct in support of military operations to service and support units of the US Armed Forces and cobelligerent nations during the period 01 JAN 1944 through 15 SEP 1946, during the Korean War, and after 01 MAR 1961.  The degree of achievement is that which would merit the award of the Legion of Merit to an individual.

Second and subsequent awards are denoted by wear of the bronze Oak Leaf Cluster;
a silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.

VN Civil Act 1st Class Medal

Awarded to officers for achievements in the area of civil actions.


The Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal was awarded as an individual foreign award to some members of the United States Army. The unit citation of the Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal was awarded certain units by the Vietnamese government for meritorious service during the period 1 March 1961 to 28 March 1974. Individuals who received the RVN Civil Actions Medal as an individual award are authorized to wear the medal. Personnel assigned to an unit which was awarded the medal are authorized to wear the unit award emblem.

Background: a. The Republic of Vietnam Civil Action unit citation is authorized for permanent wear only. Personnel assigned to the organization during the period cited may wear the emblem.

    b. Organizations which have been awarded the Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions unit award may display a streamer on the organizational flag. The streamer is the same pattern as the ribbon with the palm near the heading of the streamer. The inscription will be as indicated on the unit's lineage and honors.

    c. The Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Medal was awarded as an individual foreign decoration in certain instances. When worn as an individual foreign decoration, it is worn without the gold frame.

VN Civil Act 2nd Class Medal

Awarded to enlisted service members for achievements in the area of civil actions.


See the award above.

 

VN Cross of Gallantry
w palm Medal



U.S. Military units were individually cited for award of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) Gallantry Cross; however, the Vietnamese Government issued the award to all units subordinate to Military Assistance Command (MACV) during the period 8 February 1962 and 28 March 1973 and to U.S. Army Vietnam and its subordinate units for the period 20 July 1965 to 28 March 1973. This permits all personnel who served in Vietnam to wear the RVN Gallantry Cross unit citation.

The medal was awarded by the Vietnam Government to military personnel who have accomplished deeds of valor or displayed heroic conduct while fighting the enemy and have been cited individually at the regiment, brigade, division, corps, or armed forces level.

Reference:  US Army Human Resources Command https://www.perscom.army.mil/tagd/tioh/Awards/VIETNAM%20GALLANTRY%20CROSS1.html

 

VN Cross of Gallantry
w Star

Awarded for valor and heroic conduct while fighting the enemy.

Gold Star device is for citation at the Corps level.
Silver Star device is for citation at the Division level.
Bronze Star device is for citation at the Brigade and Regiment levels.

 

VN Wound Medal
For military personnel who had been wounded in action and to government officials wounded in the line of duty by the enemy or rebels.
   
The "V" device
There are several decorations awarded by the US Army which are earned for achievement and service, or, in battle, for valor and heroism. To distinguish the award of the decorations for valor a bronze "V" for Valor device is attached. No more than one "V" may be worn on a ribbon.

These decorations are:
bulletThe Bronze Star Medal
bulletThe Air Medal
bulletThe Joint Service Commendation Medal
bulletThe Commendation Medal

Oak Leaf Clusters 

The bronze Oak Leaf Cluster is awarded to and worn by Army and Air Force personnel on all US decorations, except the Air Medal, to denote the second and subsequent awards.  A silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.  OLC's are also worn on unit citations, The Prisoner of War Medal, and the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal for the same purpose.

 

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Revised: June 29, 2012 .

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