The highest military medals in the U.S. Army

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Since George Washington bestowed the first badge of military merit in 1782, the names of various military medals and honors have become common from time to time. Yet many Americans may not be particularly familiar with what is needed to earn them. The top three medals are awarded for outstanding service in the performance of their duties on the battlefield, while other significant medals recognize the exceptional service of individuals in combat and non-combat roles. Read on for a breakdown of the six best medals military personnel can receive.

The medal of honor

Presented for bravery, a Medal of Honor exists for each branch of the military in three distinct versions: one for the US Army, a second for the US Air Force and a third for the US Navy, US Coast Guard and the US Marine Corps. The Medal of Honor is still the only military award approved by Congress and presented by the President. The US Department of Defense designates the criteria for the recipient of the award as members of the armed forces who “are distinguished by their bravery and fearlessness at the risk of dying beyond the call of duty” while they are engaged in “action against an enemy of the United States.” States ”,“ military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force ”or“ serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party ”.

Previous recipients include General Douglas MacArthur and his son, Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur Jr.

Military service cross

The second highest military decoration, the Service Cross, also features a trio of versions each recognizing extraordinary heroism: the Distinguished Service Cross (US Army), Navy Cross (US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Coast Guard) and the ‘Air Force. To cross. According to the United States Department of Defense, actions that deserve one of these military service crosses “must be of such a high degree that they are superior to those required for all other American combat decorations, but do not deserve not the award of the Medal of Honor ”.

Previous recipients include Virginia Hall and Colonel James H. Coffman Jr.

The silver star

The third highest military combat decoration, the Silver Star, is awarded to a member of one of the United States armed forces who demonstrates bravery and exceptional service under fire. Actions which deserve the Silver Star “must be of such a high degree as to be superior to those required for all other American Combat Decorations, but do not deserve the award of the Medal of Honor or any award. service cross ”. The award ceremony must be chaired by a “theater commander” who is at least a three-star general.

Previous recipients include Colonel David Hackworth and the Brigadier. General Charles “Chuck” Yeager.

Distinguished Flying Cross

This medal is awarded for extraordinary achievement in aerial flight or for the heroism and bravery associated with flight. Combat service is not required to receive this honor.

Previous recipients include Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and President George HW Bush.

The bronze star

Not only can the Bronze Star be awarded for the heroism or achievements of US troops, it can also be awarded to qualified members of foreign military entities as well as to civilians serving in the US armed forces. It is not a combat specific award, but recognizes bravery or meritorious service, or a combination of the two.

Past recipients include actors George Kennedy and Henry Fonda, as well as Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The purple heart

Dating back to the American Revolution, this military honor is bestowed on those injured or killed in combat as a result of an “act of any opposing force” or friendly fire. Unlike other medals, Purple Heart recipients do not need to be recommended for honor and only need to meet a specific set of criteria regarding enemy-related injuries.

Past recipients include President John F. Kennedy, US Representative John McCain and Senator Tammy Duckworth.


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