United States

list of awards | list of persons

The history of decorations in the United States can be traced back to the American Revolution. The very first American medal was one struck to honor George Washington. These medals were large plaques, very unlike the medals we know today. In 1780, the Andre Medal was presented by the Congress. This was a first medal to be worn around the neck. But in August 1782, the Badge of Military Merit was established by George Washington, which was the first real medal to be awarded to all enlisted service men that would applicate for it. This Badge would become the model for the Purple Heart, established on February 22nd 1932.

The 80 year’s that followed, did not see the establishment of any new decoration, although the United States were part of two major conflicts, the War of 1812 and the War with Mexico. A certificate of Merit was established in 1847, but was not accompanied with a medal. In 1861 the Navy Medal of Honor was established, followed in 1862 by the Army Medal of Honor.

Nearly twenty following years, this was all that remained. Although in 1880 the Navy and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals were established, now other medals were installed during the Spanish-American War. It would last until the 20th century, until medals were established to honour the Military of that war. Even when the First World War started, the only decorations in the United States were the Medal of Honor, the Certificate of Merit and the Navy/Marine Good Conduct Medals. In order to prevent the Medal of Honor to be presented for minor actions, in 1918 the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal were established. Also in 1918 it was permitted to receive foreign medals to US military. In 1919 the Navy Cross and the Navy Distinguished Medal followed. With the introduction of the World War I Victory Medal, the use of clasps and bronze or silver stars was introduced for separate battles involved. Also was introduced a 3/16” Silver Star to denote gallantry in action, which would evolve into the Silver Star Medal in 1932.

With the mobilisation of forces on September 8th 1939, for the first time a decoration was introduced for peacetime service, the American Defence Service Medal. After December 7th 1941, one after the other decoration was established. This tradition would be continued after the war until the day of today.

Order of Precedence of US World War Two medals and ribbons

1. Medal of Honor
2. Distinguished Service Cross
3. Navy Cross
4. Air Force Cross
5. Army Distinguished Service Medal
6. Navy Distinguished Service Medal
7. Silver Star
8. Legion of Merit
9. Distinguished Flying Cross
10. Soldier’s Medal
11. Navy and Marine Corps Medal
12. Gold Lifesaving Medal
13. Bronze Star Medal
14. Purple Heart
15. Air Medal
16. Silver Lifesaving Medal
17. Army Commendation Medal
18. Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal
19. Combat Action Ribbon
20. Distinguished Unit Badge
21. Navy Presidential Unit Citation
22. Navy Unit Commendation
23. Army Meritious Unit Commendation
24. Prisoner of War medal
25. Army Good Conduct Medal
26. Reserve Special Commendation Ribbon
27. Navy Good Conduct Medal
28. Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
29. Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal
30. Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal
31. Navy Expeditionary Medal
32. Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
33. China Service Medal
34. American Defence Medal
35. Woman’s Army Corps Service Medal
36. American Campaign Medal
37. Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
38. European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
39. World War Two Victory Medal
40. US Antarctic Expedition Medal
41. Naval Reserve Medal
42. Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon
43. Foreign Medals and decorations
44. Commemorative Medals

On this website we add decorations for the United States that were received within the period of September 8th, 1939 until December 31st, 1946 for when related to campaign and service awards and December 7th, 1941 until September 2nd, 1945 for actions. The mobilisation of U.S. Forces started on September 8th, 1939, but the hostilities in which U.S. Forces were active involved started not before December 7th, 1941. On September 2nd, 1945, the Japanese surrender was signed, ending the actual fightings. It was not until December 31st, 1946 when President Truman by Presidential Decrete decided that formally hostilities against U.S. Forces ended, formally ending World War Two for the United States on that date.
In relation to China we make an exception to the mentioned dates in the vieuw that U.S. Forces, voluntarily or not, were involved in armed contact with Japanese occupation forces before the mentioned dates. In this is considerdif the decoration is awarded in relation with activities against the Japanese.
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