The U.S. military has created a large number of awards, decorations, and campaign ribbons that are given to awardees as a result of their notable actions or service. The most rare and significant award is the Medal of Honor while one of the most common is the Purple Heart, awarded for a service related injury. There are many medals of lower precedence than the Purple Heart, awarded for specific service or accomplishments.
For the U.S. military, the Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir, VA, an arm of the office of the Secretary of the Army, furnishes services related to official symbolic items to the Armed Forces and other United States government organizations, including the Executive Office of the President. The activities of the Institute encompass research, design, development, standardization, quality control, and other services relating to seals, decorations, medals, insignia, badges, flags, and other items awarded to or authorized for official wear or display by government personnel and agencies. Limited research and information services concerning official symbolic items are also provided to the general public.
Silver Star and Purple Heart Medals.
Today in WW II: 26 Nov 1942 Battle of Brisbane: American and Australian soldiers fight in Brisbane, Australia with multiple fatalities [26-27 Nov].
Medals and Awards
Awards to individuals serving in the U.S. Military are given for distinguished heroism, valor and service. The highest ranking medals, in order of precedence, are:
1. Medal of Honor (Army)
2. Distinguished Service Cross
3. Defense Distinguished Service Medal
4. Distinguished Service Medal (Army)
5. Silver Star
6. Defense Superior Service Medal
7. Legion of Merit
8. Distinguished Flying Cross
9. Soldier's Medal
10. Bronze Star Medal
11. Purple Heart
12. Defense Meritorious Service Medal
13. Meritorious Service Medal
14. Air Medal
15. Joint Service Commendation Medal
16. Army Commendation Medal
17. Joint Service Achievement Medal
18. Army Achievement Medal
19. POW Medal
20. Good Conduct Medal (Army)
21. Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal
22. American Defense Service Medal
23. Women's Army Corps Service Medal
24. American Campaign Medal
25. Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
26. European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
27. World War II Victory Medal
28. Army of Occupation Medal
29. Medal for Humane Action
30. National Defense Service Medal
31. Korean Service Medal
32. Antartica Service Medal
33. Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
34. Vietnam Service Medal
35. Southwest Asia Service Medal
36. Armed Forces Service Medal
37. Humanitarian Service Medal
38. Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
39. Armed Forces Reserve Medal
40. NCO Professional Development Ribbon
41. Army Service Ribbon
42. Overseas Service Ribbon
43. Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon
Private Andrew Shestock receiving the Soldiers Medal from Lieutenant Colonel E.E. Reid of the Newfoundland Command for saving a Newfoundland citizen from drowning. 1942 photo.
In addition to individual awards, units of the U.S. Military may be collectively recognized by one of these awards:
Presidential Unit Citation (Army)
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Valorous Unit Award (Army)
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army)
Army Superior Unit Award
These lists of awards are not exhaustive and may change from time to time. The requirements for awards and how they are to be worn are governed by regulations, according to the written documents issued and updated. For the U.S. Army these include:
AR 600-8-22: Military Awards
AR 670-1: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia
AR 840-10: Flags, Guidons, Streamers, Tabards, and Automobile and Aircraft Plates
Books About Medals and Awards
For more comprehensive information on this subject, the following books are recommended:
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