Air Medal is a military
decoration of the United States which was established by Executive Order 9158,
signed by Franklin
on 11 May 1942. The Air Medal was awarded retroactive to 8
Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity
in or with the Armed Forces of the United States, shall have distinguished himself/herself by
meritorious achievement while participating in aerial
Awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit or heroism, or
for meritorious service. Award of the Air Medal is primarily
intended to recognize those personnel who are on current crew
member or non-crew member flying status which requires them to
participate in aerial flight on a regular and frequent basis in the
performance of their primary duties. However, it may also be
awarded to certain other individuals whose combat duties require
regular and frequent flying in other than a passenger status, or
individuals who perform a particularly noteworthy act while
performing the function of a crew member but who are not on flying
status. These individuals must make a discernible contribution to
the operational land combat mission or to the mission of the
aircraft in flight.
Examples of personnel whose combat duties require them to fly
include those in the attack elements of units involved in air-land
assaults against an armed enemy and those directly involved in
airborne command and control of combat operations. Awards will not
be made to individuals who use air transportation solely for the
purpose of moving from point to point in a combat zone.
Subsequent decorations of the Air Medal are denoted in the U.S. Army
by award numerals
displayed on the medal and
ribbon. The Army originally used oak
, however changed to numerals during the Vietnam War
when the number of Air Medals
awarded became too large to be annotated on a single ribbon. The
Army and the Air Force also awards the Air Medal with a Valor device
for acts of heroism.
The Secretary of the Air Force
the award of the "V" Device for valor to Air Medals awarded for
heroism effective 21 Oct 2004. It applies to all Air Force members
(Active Duty, ANG, AFRes), retirees and veterans, but this change
is not retroactive to any earlier date; only decorations approved
on or after 21 Oct 2004 are affected by this policy change.
The Air Force does not utilize numerals on the Air Medal.
Subsequent awards are annotated with the traditional oak leaf
clusters. Enlisted members are also awarded three points toward
The U.S. Navy
U.S. Marine Corps
have two types of Air Medals
awards: "individual" for singular meritorious acts and
"strike/flight" for participation in sustained aerial flight
operations. Bronze Strike/Flight
denote "strike/flight" awards. As of September 27,
2006, gold award numerals
are used to
denote "individual" Air Medals. This is a return to the standard
used before November 22, 1989. In the interval between November 22,
1989 and September 27, 2006, gold and silver award stars
denoted subsequent "individual" Air
Medals. Gold stars were used for the second through the fifth,
seventh through tenth awards, and so on. Silver stars were used in
lieu of five gold stars, and denote the sixth and eleventh (and so
on) awards. For "individual" Air Medals, the valor device
may be authorized.
The United States Coast
issues the Air Medal with subsequent awards denoted by
gold and silver stars. There are no additional devices authorized
on the Coast Guard Air Medal.
During World War II, the Air Medal was also awarded to members of
the Civil Air Patrol that had been participants in that
organization's anti-submarine patrol program.
A Bronze compass rose
1 11/16 inches circumscribing
diameter and charged with an eagle volant carrying two lightning
flashes in its talons. A fleur-de-lis at the top point holds the
suspension ring. The points of the compass rose on the reverse are
modeled with the central portion plain for engraving the name of
The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and
consists of the following stripes:
- 1/8 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118;
- ¼ inch Golden Orange 67109;
- center 5/8 inch Ultramarine Blue;
- ¼ inch Golden Orange; and
- 1/8 inch Ultramarine Blue.
The following are authorized
components of the Air Medal and the applicable specifications for
- a. Decoration (regular size): MIL-D-3943/23. NSN for decoration
set is 8455-00-269-5747. For replacement medal NSN
- b. Decoration (miniature size): MIL-D-3943/23. NSN
- c. Ribbon: MIL-R-11589/7. NSN 8455-00-252-9963.
- d. Lapel Button: MIL-L-11484/17. NSN 8455-00-257-4308.
. Hancock had competed for the medal design as a
civilian, but prior to the award of the competition had been
inducted into the army.