.United States Army Historic Medals.


Historic Medals of Honor

The Army Medal of Honor, 1862 - 1896


...Above and Beyond the Call of Duty...
                                   Ribbon © RWD PLOESSL

A Senate Resolution, of 17 Feb 1862, signed into law by President Lincoln on 12 Jul 1863, provided for the presentation of 'Medals of Honor':

"In the name of Congress, to such non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most
distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other soldier-like qualities, during the Civil War."


On 03 Mar 1863, Congress changed the law to include officers and to make the only qualification
"Gallantry in Action".


Designed by Joseph Kiselewski



The Army Medal of Honor, 1896 - 1904

...Above and Beyond the Call of Duty...

The ribbon of the Medal of Honor was being copied by any number of societies or veterans' organizations.
So, on 02 May 1896, Congress authorized a change in the ribbon design.


Designed by Joseph Kiselewski



The Army Medal of Honor, 1904 - 1945

...Above and Beyond the Call of Duty...

On 23 Apr 1904, Congress authorized a new design and on 20 Sep 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt ordered:

"The recipient of a Medal of Honor will, whenever practicable,
be ordered to Washington and the presentation will be made by the President."


Designed by General George L. Gillespie

 





The Fidelity Medal
(The Andre Capture Medal)

The Andre Medal--The Fidelity Medal
                      © RWD PLOESSL

The only medal awarded by the United States before the Civil War, was created by Congress in 1780 and presented to
three members of the New York Militia.  Private John Paulding, Private David Williams, and Private Isaac Van Wart
were the three men who captured Major John Andre.  Major Andre was a British intelligence officer (spy), representing
the British Forces in America, and a co-conspirator of, the traitor, Gen. Benedict Arnold.

 



The Badge of Merit


Established by General and Commander-in-Chief George Washington, on 07 Aug 1782,
at Newburgh on the Hudson, New York, as an award for outstanding military merit.

"The road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all." G.Washington

The award was in the form of an embroidered, heart-shaped, badge of purple cloth. General Washington personally bestowed it on only three noncommissioned officers during the Revolutionary War:

On 03 May 1783;
SGT William Brown, 5th Connecticut Infantry Regiment
SGT Elijah Churchill, 2nd Regiment of the Continental Light Dragoons

On 10 Jun 1783;
SGT Daniel Bissell, 2nd Connecticut Infantry Regiment


Four additional recipients authorized by General Washington;

On 05 Jun 1783;
Fifer John Sithens, 2nd New Jersey Infantry Regiment

On 08 Jun 1783;
PVT John Pasko, 3rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

On 09 Jun 1783;
PVT Peter Shumway, 4th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

On 10 Jun 1783;
SGT William Dutton, 7th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment


Though never officially abolished it was not again awarded for almost 150 years. Upon its revival, in 1932, as the Purple Heart medal, the new decoration was to be awarded in two categories:

"For being wounded in action, in any war or campaign..."
"For performing any singularly meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity or essential service."


Designed by General George Washington


The Certificate of Merit - Army

The Certificate of Merit
                       © RWD PLOESSL

'Virtutis et Audaciae Monumentum et Premium'
(Virtue and Audacity Are Their Own Monument and Reward)

 Created by Congress on 03 Mar 1847, during the War with Mexico, for U.S. Army Privates.  In 1854, coverage was extended to also include Non-Commissioned Officers.  Awarded for:

"Distinguished service in battle or peacetime,
for heroism involving saving life or property at the risk of one's own life, or
for other services deemed deserving by the President."

 On 11 Jan 1905, Congress authorized a medal for recipients of the Certificate of Merit.

 On 9 Jul 1918, Congress discontinued the Certificate of Merit Medal
and authorized recipients to receive the Distinguished Service Medal in exchange, if requested.

In 1934, this authorization to exchange was upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross.
 

Designed by Francis D. Millet



The Kearny Medal for Officers

The Kearny Medal
                      © RWD PLOESSL

'Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori'
(Sweet and Fitting it is to Die for One's Country)

On 29 Nov 1862, the officers of the 1st Division, III Corps met and adopted the resolution establishing
a "medal of honor" to be known as the "Kearny Medal", which would be presented to all officers
(and those soldiers promoted to officers prior to 01 Jan 1863) who had

"Honorably served in battle under General Kearny in his Division."

Major General Phillip Kearny was killed in the Battle of Chantilly on 01 Sep 1862.
 

Designed by Ball, Black, and Company; New York



The Kearny Cross
for Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates

The Kearny Cross
                      © RWD PLOESSL

On 13 Mar 1863, Brigadier General Birney issued an order establishing
a "cross of valor", to be known as the "Kearny Cross" and awarding it to
Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates who had distinguished themselves in battle.

Major General Phillip Kearny, former Commander of the 1st Division, III Corps,
was killed in the Battle of Chantilly on 01 Sep 1862.
 

Designed by Jacobus; Philadelphia



The Gillmore Medal
(The Fort Sumter Medal)

The Gillmore Medal
                      © RWD PLOESSL

On 28 Oct 1863, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore issued an order creating
"medals of honor for gallantry and meritorious conduct during the operations before Charleston"
and awarding them to enlistedmen of his command who had been in action in the batteries and trenches.

This medal is suspended by a swivel, from a metal clasp; there was no ribbon.
 

Designed by Ball, Black, and Company; New York



The Army of the James Medal
(The Butler Medal) (The Colored Troops Medal)

The Butler Medal--The Colored Troops Medal
                        © RWD PLOESSL

'Ferro iis Libertas Perveniet'
(Liberty Wrought by Iron)

On 11 Oct 1864, Major General Benjamin F. Butler, the Commander of the Army of the James,
announced that a special medal would be struck in honor of certain black soldiers of his command
for gallantry in action in the storming of New Market Heights, 29 Sep 1864.

For this one action there were nearly two hundred medals presented.
Following are known names of recipients from the National Archives:

  PVT William H. Barnes Co. C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
1SG Powhattan Beatty Co. G, 5th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
CPT Oscar Boggess Co. E, 43rd U.S. Colored Troops
SGT James Branson Co. D, 5th U.S. Colored Troops
SGT Randolph Driver Co. I, 2nd U.S. Colored Troops
SGT Ellsbry Co. G, 6th U.S. Colored Troops
SGM Christian Fleetwood   4th U.S. Colored Troops
SGT James Gardiner Co. I, 36th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
SGT Samuel Gilchrest Co. K, 36th U.S. Colored Troops
SGT Gilbert Harris Co. F, 2nd U.S. Colored Cavalry
SGT Isaac Harris Co. F, 2nd U.S. Colored Cavalry
SGT James H. Harris Co. B, 38th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
Color SGT Alfred B. Hilton Co. H, 4th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
SGM Milton M. Holland 5th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
SGT George Honesty Co. I, 2nd U.S. Colored Cavalry
CPL Miles James Co. B, 36th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
SGT Alexander Kelley Co. F, 6th U.S. Colored Troops
SGT Reuben Parker Co. F, 2nd U.S. Colored Cavalry
1SG Robert Pinn Co. I, 5th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
1SG Edward Ratcliff Co. C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
SGT Charles Veal Co. D, 4th U.S. Colored Troops
Medal of Honor
1LT Martin Weisy Co. ?, 38th U.S. Colored Troops
CPL William Williams Co. K, 6th U.S. Colored Troops


Medal designed by Anthony C. Paquet
Ribbon and attachments designed by Charles W. Kennard & Co.



The Gold Lifesaving Medal

The Gold Lifesaving Medal
                                    Ribbon © RWD PLOESSL

Established by Congress on 20 JUN 1874.
Awarded by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (formerly, Dept. of Treasury) to U.S. Armed Forces members
and civilians who endanger their lives in saving or attempting to save lives of others from dangers of the sea.

Between 1882 and 1946 the ribbon for the medal was two inches wide and colored scarlet red:

The old Gold Lifesaving Ribbon
                        © RWD PLOESSL

Since 1946, it has been standard width and a combination of deep red, white, and gold:

The new Gold Lifesaving Ribbon
                        © RWD PLOESSL

When worn with other Army medals, it ranks just after the Soldier's Medal.
 

Designed by Anthony C. Paquet



The Silver Lifesaving Medal

The Silver Lifesaving Medal
                                   Ribbon © RWD PLOESSL

Established by Congress on 20 JUN 1874.
Awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (formerly, Dept. of Treasury) to U.S. Armed Forces members
and civilians who endanger their lives in saving or attempting to save lives of others from dangers of the sea.
However, it is secondary to the Gold Lifesaving Medal and therefor permits a lesser degree of heroism for award.

Between 1882 and 1946 the ribbon for the medal was two inches wide and colored light blue:

The old Silver Lifesaving Ribbon
                        © RWD PLOESSL

Since 1946, it has been standard width and a combination of blue, white, and silver-gray:

The new Silver Lifesaving Ribbon
                        © RWD PLOESSL

When worn with other Army medals, it ranks just after the Air Medal.
 

Designed by Anthony C. Paquet



The Southern Cross of Honor

Southern Cross of Honor - Obverse Southern Cross of Honor - Reverse
Obverse Reverse

While attending a reunion of Confederate veterans in Atlanta in July 1898, Mrs. Alexander S. (Mary Ann Lamar Cobb) Erwin, of Athens, Georgia, conceived the idea of bestowing the Southern Cross of Honor upon Confederate veterans. Mrs. Erwin and Mrs. Sarah E. Gabbett, of Atlanta, are credited with the design of the medal: a Maltese cross with a wreath of laurel surrounding the words "Deo Vindice (God our Vindicator) 1861-1865" and the inscription, "Southern Cross of Honor" on the face. On the reverse side is a Confederate battle flag surrounded by a laurel wreath and the words "United Daughters of the Confederacy to the UCV."

Mr. Charles W. Crankshaw, of Atlanta, was chosen to manufacture the Crosses. However, the first order was not given until the UDC had secured a copyright (20 FEB 1900). During the first 18 months of the Cross's availability, 12,500 were ordered and delivered. Only a Confederate veteran could wear the Southern Cross of Honor and it could only be bestowed through the UDC. Money could not buy the Cross; "they were bought by loyal, honorable service to the South and given in recognition of this devotion". The first Cross ever bestowed was upon Mrs. Erwin's husband, Captain Alexander S. Erwin, by the Athens, Georgia, Chapter on 26 APR 1900.



 The Army Wound Ribbon

The US Army Wound Ribbon
                           © RWD PLOESSL

The Army Wound Ribbon was established by Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, on 06 SEP 1917,
and implemented by War Department General Order 134 of 12 OCT 1917,
to be awarded to officers or enlistedmen who were "honorably wounded in action."

It was rescinded by War Department General Order 6 of 12 JAN 1918,
and replaced by the Wound Chevron.


No order of precedence was ever established for this ribbon and no devices were authorized;
additional ribbons were to be worn for successive awards.




The Distinguished Warfare Medal


Established by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, on 13 FEB 2013,

Subsequently canceled by Secretary Hagel, on 15 APR 2013,
who made the decision to instead offer "devices" to existing medals
.


"For extraordinary achievement related to a military operation that occurred after 11 SEP 2001,
including the remote launching of a weapon and including efforts in space or cyberspace.
The extraordinary achievement must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and
outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from comrades or from other persons in similar situations."

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


Designed by The Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army

 


The Chaplains' Medal for Heroism

Chaplain George Fox


Chaplain Alexander Goode

The Chaplains' Medal for Heroism
Ribbon © RWD PLOESSL

Chaplain Clark Poling


Chaplain John Washington


During the Second World War, four Chaplains showed extreme heroism and made great sacrifice after the torpedoing of their transport ship in the North Atlantic. The four First Lieutenants; Rev. George L. Fox, Methodist Church; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Jewish Faith; Rev. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed Church; and Fr. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic Church; quickly and quietly spread out among the soldiers. They tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded, and guide the disoriented toward safety. When there were no more lifejackets in the storage room, the Chaplains removed their own and gave them to four frightened young men. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four Chaplains--arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their voices could also be heard offering prayers.
That night, the four Chaplains passed life's ultimate test. In doing so, they became an enduring example of extraordinary faith, courage, and selflessness.

The Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart were awarded posthumously, 19 DEC 1944, to the next of kin, by Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, Commanding General of the Army Service Forces, in a ceremony at the post chapel at Fort Myer, VA.

A posthumous Special Medal for Heroism, never before given and never to be given again, was authorized by Congress and awarded by the President, 18 JAN 1961. Congress wished to confer the Medal of Honor, but was blocked by the stringent requirements which required heroism performed under fire. The special medal was intended to have the same weight and importance as the Medal of Honor.
 

 


The Congressional Space Medal of Honor


The Congressional Space Medal of Honor
© RWD PLOESSL

Established by Congress on 29 SEP 1969.  Awarded by the President, in the name of Congress, to
civilian or military astronauts who, while performing their duties,

"Distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and humanity."

The design contains a 1/4-carat diamond at its center, which makes it the only U.S. decoration with a precious stone.

It is a non-military decoration and ranks after all military decorations.

Awardees include:

  • 1978, Neil Armstrong - Commander Apollo XI  'First Moon Landing'
       [Lieutenant-Junior Grade , U.S. Navy]
  • 1978, Frank Borman - Commander Apollo VIII  'First Moon Orbit'
       [Colonel , U.S. Air Force]
  • 1978, Charles "Pete" Conrad - Commander First Skylab Space Station Crew
       [Captain , U.S. Navy]
  • 1978, John Glenn - Mercury Spacecraft; Friendship 7  'First American in Orbit'
       [Colonel , U.S. Marine Corps]
  • 1978, Virgil I."Gus" Grissom (posthumous) - Commander Gemini III & Apollo I
       [Lieutenant Colonel , U.S. Air Force]
  • 1978, Alan Shepard - Mercury Spacecraft; Freedom 7  'First American in Space'
       [Rear Admiral , U.S. Navy]
  • 1981, John W. Young - Commander STS-1; Columbia  'First Shuttle Flight'
       [Captain , U.S. Navy]
  • 1993, Thomas P. Stafford - Apollo Commander, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
       [Lieutenant General , U.S. Air Force]
  • 1995, James Lovell - Commander Apollo XIII
       [Captain , U.S. Navy]
  • 1996, Dr. Shannon Lucid - STS-76 & Mir Space Station 'Longest Female Duration in Space'
  • 1997, Roger Chaffee (posthumous) - Apollo I
       [Lieutenant Commander , U.S. Navy]
  • 1997, Edward White (posthumous) - Gemini IV  'First American Space Walk' & Apollo I
       [Lieutenant Colonel , U.S. Air Force]
  • 2003, William Shepherd - Commander First International Space Station Crew
       [Captain , U.S. Navy]
  • 2004, Dick Scobee (posthumous) - Commander STS-51L; Challenger
       [Lieutenant Colonel , U.S. Air Force]
  • 2004, Michael Smith (posthumous) - Pilot STS-51L; Challenger
       [Captain , U.S. Navy]
  • 2004, Dr. Judith Resnik (posthumous) - STS-51L; Challenger
  • 2004, Ellison Onizuka (posthumous) - STS-51L; Challenger
       [Lieutenant Colonel , U.S. Air Force]
  • 2004, Dr. Ronald McNair (posthumous) - STS-51L; Challenger
  • 2004, Greg Jarvis (posthumous) - STS-51L; Challenger
       [Captain , U.S. Air Force]
  • 2004, Christa McAuliffe (posthumous) - STS-51L; Challenger
  • 2004, Rick Husband (posthumous) - Commander STS-107; Columbia
       [Colonel , U.S. Air Force]
  • 2004, Willie McCool (posthumous) - Pilot STS-107; Columbia
       [Commander , U.S. Navy]
  • 2004, Michael P. Anderson (posthumous) - STS-107; Columbia
       [Lieutenant Colonel , U.S. Air Force]
  • 2004, Dr. Kalpana Chawla (posthumous) - STS-107; Columbia
  • 2004, David M. Brown (posthumous) - STS-107; Columbia
       [Captain , U.S. Navy]
  • 2004, Dr. Laurel B. Clark (posthumous) - STS-107; Columbia
       [Captain , U.S. Navy]
  • 2004, Ilan Ramon (posthumous) - STS-107; Columbia
       [Colonel , Israel Air and Space Arm]
  • 2006, Robert Crippen - Pilot STS-1; Columbia  'First Shuttle Flight'
       [Captain , U.S. Navy]

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    FtgoG

    Chaplains' Medal for Heroism Distinguished Service Cross Silver Star Purple Heart, 2 awards Victory Medal, WW I with 7 Bronze Campaign Stars American Campaign Medal with Bronze Campaign Star Victory Medal, WW II French Croix de Guerre with Palm, WW I Chaplains' Medal for Heroism Distinguished Service Cross Purple Heart American Campaign Medal with Bronze Campaign Star Victory Medal, WW II Chaplain Fox Chaplain Goode Chaplain Poling Chaplain Washington