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The Distinguished Flying Cross is a medal awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918." The decoration may also be given for an act performed prior to that date when the individual has been recommended for, but has not received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross or Distinguished Service Medal.


The Distinguished Flying Cross, was authorized by an Act of Congress of July 2, 1926, an act amended by Executive Order 7786 on January 8, 1938. DFC #1 was awarded to Charles Lindbergh although Herbert Dargue is reported to have received the award two weeks before Lindbergh.

The first DFC to be awarded to a Naval Aviator was to then-Commander Richard E. Byrd, United States Navy, for his flight on May 9, 1926, to and from the North Polemarker. Both of these aviators, Lindbergh and Byrd, also received the Medal of Honor for their feats.

Recipients of the medal also include former President George H. W. Bush; retired Navy Captain and current U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ); General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold; U.S. Army General and former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig; Tex Hill (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), former U. S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK); General Jimmy Doolittle (with two Oak Leaf Clusters); Brigadier General and former Governor Joe Foss (R-SD); former Governor Bruce Sundlun (D-RI); William T. Kane; Paul Hartsfield; Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault (with Oak Leaf Cluster); General Curtis LeMay (with three Oak Leaf Clusters); retired Marine Corps Colonel, astronaut and retired U. S. Senator John Glenn (D-OH) (with four Gold Stars); retired Brigadier General Chuck Yeager (with two Oak Leaf Clusters); Robert L. Coffey; retired U. S. Senator George McGovern (D-SD); Mayor Lo Walker of Bossier Citymarker, Louisianamarker, Kim Campbell; Sabu Dastagir; Morgan E. Lilly (with eight Oak Leaf Clusters); Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart (with Oak Leaf Cluster); Clark Gable; retired Navy Captain Tony F. Schneider (with two Gold Stars); James Fitzmaurice; Stephen Coonts; William F. Burke, Sr.; Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry [43814]; and Joseph McCarthy. Civilians who have received the award include Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, Wiley Post, Jacqueline Cochran, Roscoe Turner, Amelia Earhart, Kim Campbell and Eugene Ely.

During wartime, members of the Armed Forces of friendly foreign nations serving with the United States are eligible for the Distinguished Flying Cross. It is also given to those who display heroism while working as instructors or students at flying schools.


The Distinguished Flying Cross was designed by Elizabeth Will and Arthur E. DuBois. It is a bronze cross pattee, with rays between the arms of the cross. On the obverse is a propeller of four blades, with one blade in each arm of the cross and in the re-entrant angles of the cross are rays which form a square. The cross is suspended by a rectangular-shaped bar and centered on this is a plain shield. The reverse is blank and suitable for engraving the recipient's name and rank.

The ribbon has a narrow red center stripe, flanked on either side by a thin white stripe, a wide stripe of dark blue, a narrow white stripe and narrow dark blue at the edge of the ribbon.

Subsequent awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross are indicated by oak leaf clusters, for Army and Air Force personnel, and by award stars for members of the Navy and Coast Guard.


Except when authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, any false written or verbal claim to a decoration or medal or any wear, purchase, attempt to purchase, solicitation for purchase, mailing, shipping, import, export, manufacture, sale, attempt to sell, advertising for sale, trade, or barter of a decoration or medal authorized for wear by authorized military members or veterans is a federal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

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