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Awards and Commendations

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Awards and Commendations

Medals, ribbons, citations and badges issued and awarded by the 173rd Airborne Brigade to soldiers for excellence.

Armed Forces Reserve Medal
The Armed Forces Reserve Medal is a service medal of the United States Armed Forces that has existed since 1950. The medal recognizes service performed by members of the reserve components and is awarded to both officers and enlisted personnel. The medal is considered a successor award to the Naval Reserve Medal and the Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon, which were discontinued in 1958 and 1967 respectively.
1. 90+ days Time in Service as a Reservist.
2. Acceptable level of active participation while in Reserves.
Armed Forces Service Medal
The Armed Forces Service Medal (AFSM) is a military award of the United States military which was created on January 11, 1996 by President Bill Clinton under Executive Order 12985. The medal is a theater service award which is presented to those service members who engage in "significant activity" for which no other campaign or service medal is authorized.

The Armed Forces Service Medal was originally intended to be a replacement for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, however the two awards are considered separate awards with different award criteria. The primary difference between the two is that the Armed Forces Service Medal is awarded for actions "through which no foreign armed opposition or imminent threat of hostile action was encountered". This definition separates the two medals in that the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is normally awarded for combat operations and other combat support missions.
The 173rd utilizes this medal in recognition of our members who are currently serving on active duty or honorably discharged from their country's respective military.
National Defense Service Medal
The National Defense Service Medal is a service medal of the United States Armed Forces established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. The medal was first intended to be a "blanket campaign medal" awarded to service members who served honorably during a designated time period of which a "national emergency" had been declared during a time of war or conflict. It may also be issued to active military members for any other period that the Secretary of Defense designates.

Currently, the National Defense Service Medal is the oldest "service medal" in use by the United States Armed Forces.
The 173rd currently recognizes this medal in honor of completion of Advanced Individual Training (AIT)
Army Good Conduct Medal
The Good Conduct Medal is one of the oldest military awards of the United States Armed Forces. The U.S. Navy's variant of the Good Conduct Medal was established in 1869, the Marine Corps version in 1896, the Coast Guard version in 1923, the Army version in 1941, and the Air Force version in 1963; the Air Force Good Conduct Medal was discontinued from February 2006 to February 2009.
6 Months Time in Service with the 173rd without any significant punitive disciplinary actions.
Army Achievement Medal
The Achievement Medal is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces. The Achievement Medal was first proposed as a means to recognize the contributions of junior officers and enlisted personnel who were not eligible to receive the higher Commendation Medal or the Meritorious Service Medal.

Each military service issues its own version of the Achievement Medal, with a fifth version authorized by the U.S. Department of Defense for joint military activity. The Achievement Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service not of a nature that would otherwise warrant awarding the Commendation Medal.
This award is issued to unit members who have contributed to the 173rd and gone above and beyond what is required of them to improve this unit. This award cannot be issued for valor.

Next Lowest: N/A
Next Highest: Army Commendation Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
The last Commendation Medal to be created (in 1963) is the Joint Service Commendation Medal. This award is intended for service in joint military organizations and is senior in precedence to the service-specific Commendation Medals.
Participate in a combined joint operation or a joint combined exchange training with another unit.
Meritorious Service Medal
At the Tri-Department Awards Conference (February 5, 1968), there was a discussion on the need for a third meritorious award to provide appropriate recognition for non-combat achievement or service comparable to that of the Bronze Star Medal for combat achievement or service. It was felt that the Legion of Merit's prestige was slipping because it was being used with increasing frequency to reward service below the Legion of Merit's intended standard, but higher than that required for the Commendation Medals of the various military services.

An ad hoc committee was formed by the Secretary of Defense (M&RA) to select a name. On November 8, 1968, the committee unanimously approved the name "Meritorious Service Medal". President Lyndon B. Johnson established the Meritorious Service Medal per Executive Order 11448, dated January 16, 1969. The Executive Order was amended by President Ronald Reagan per Executive Order 12312, dated July 2, 1981, to authorize award to members of the armed forces of friendly foreign nations.

The medal was designed by Mr. Jay Morris of the Institute of Heraldry, and the design was approved by the committee on March 20, 1969. The ribbon design purposely follows the colors used for the Legion of Merit to reflect the parallel between the two medals. The eagle, symbol of the United States, stands on laurel branches denoting achievement. The star is used to represent the military service and the rays emanating therefrom denote the constant efforts of individuals to achieve through excellent and meritorious service.
1. At least 1 year Time in Service with no recorded punitive disciplinary actions greater than a ten-day time in grade suspension.
2. At least 1 award issued for valor or non-valor rated Army Achievement Medal or higher
Air Medal
The Air Medal was established by Executive Order 9158, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, on 11 May 1942. The Air Medal was awarded retroactive to 8 September 1939. The medal is awarded to anyone who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes himself or herself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.
The recipient must perform outstanding flight-related duties while in a combat zone. The recipient must be assigned an MOS such as Detachment Commander, Pilot, or Crew (W1-W5). The medal may be awarded with a Combat "V" for Valor for an act of meritorious action or bravery against an armed enemy less than the criteria for the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Distinguished Flying Cross
The first award of the Distinguished Flying Cross was made by President Calvin Coolidge on May 2, 1927, to ten aviators of the Air Corps who had participated in the U.S. Army Pan American Flight, which took place from December 21, 1926 to May 2, 1927. Two of the airmen died in a mid-air collision trying to land at Buenos Aires on February 26, 1927, and received their awards posthumously. Since the award had only been authorized by Congress the previous year, no medals had yet been struck, and the Pan American airmen initially received only certificates. Among the ten airmen were Major Herbert A. Dargue, Captains Ira C. Eaker and Muir S. Fairchild, and 1st Lt. Ennis C. Whitehead. Charles Lindbergh received the first presentation of the medal little more than a month later, from Coolidge during the Washington, D.C. homecoming reception on June 11, 1927, from his trans-Atlantic flight. The medal had hurriedly been struck and readied just for that occasion. Interestingly, the 1927 War Department General Order (G.O. 8), authorizing Lindbergh's DFC states that it was awarded by the President, while the General Order (G.O. 6) for the Pan American Flyers' DFC citation notes that the War Department awarded it "by direction of the President." The first Distinguished Flying Cross to be awarded to a Naval Aviator was received by then-Commander Richard E. Byrd, for his trans-Atlantic flight from June 29 to July 1, 1927 from New York City to the coast of France. Byrd, along with pilot Floyd Bennett, received the Medal of Honor for their historic flight to the North Pole on May 9, 1926 but they did not receive the DFC for that flight as the DFC had not yet been created. Numerous military recipients of the medal would later earn greater fame in other occupations—several astronauts, actors and politicians (including former President George H. W. Bush) are Distinguished Flying Cross holders. DFC awards could be retroactive to cover notable achievements back until the beginning of World War I. On February 23, 1929, Congress passed special legislation to allow the award of the DFC to the Wright brothers for their December 17, 1903 flight. Other civilians who have received the award include Wiley Post, Jacqueline Cochran, Roscoe Turner, Amelia Earhart, Glenn H. Curtiss and Eugene Ely. Eventually, it was limited to military personnel by an Executive Order. Amelia Earhart became the first woman and first civilian to receive the DFC on July 29, 1932 when it was presented to her by Vice President Charles Curtis in Los Angeles. Earhart received the decoration for her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean earlier that year.
The recipient must distinguish himself or herself in support of operations by showing "great heroism or extraordinary action" in an aerial flight as Pilot or Crew Chief to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This award is given for a single action or series of actions that go above and beyond the normal duties of an aviator.
Army Commendation Medal
The Commendation Medal is a mid-level United States military decoration which is presented for sustained acts of heroism or meritorious service. For valorous actions in direct contact with an enemy, but of a lesser degree than required for the award of the Bronze Star Medal, a Commendation Medal with "V" Device or Combat "V" (Navy/Marine) is awarded; the "V" device may be authorized for wear on the service and suspension ribbon of the medal to denote valor. Each branch of the United States Armed Forces issues its own version of the Commendation Medal, with a fifth version existing for acts of joint military service performed under the Department of Defense.

The Commendation Medal was originally only a service ribbon and was first awarded by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard in 1943. An Army Commendation Ribbon followed in 1945, and in 1949, the Navy, Coast Guard, and Army Commendation ribbons were renamed the "Commendation Ribbon with Medal Pendant." By 1960, the Commendation Ribbons had been authorized as full medals and were subsequently referred to as Commendation Medals.
This award is issued for acts of bravery in the face of danger. It is the lowest valor award issued in the unit, but can also be issued without valor to someone who has done outstanding work to improve the unit.

Next Lowest: Army Achievement Medal
Next Highest: Bronze Star
Bronze Star
Colonel Russell P. "Red" Reeder conceived the idea of the Bronze Star Medal in 1943; he believed it would aid morale if captains of companies or of batteries could award a medal to deserving people serving under them. Reeder felt another medal was needed as a ground equivalent of the Air Medal, and suggested calling the proposed new award the "Ground Medal".

The idea eventually rose through the military bureaucracy and gained supporters. General George C. Marshall, in a memorandum to President Franklin D. Roosevelt dated 3 February 1944, wrote

"The fact that the ground troops, Infantry in particular, lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who must close in personal combat with the enemy, makes the maintenance of their morale of great importance. The award of the Air Medal has had an adverse reaction on the ground troops, particularly the Infantry Riflemen who are now suffering the heaviest losses, air or ground, in the Army, and enduring the greatest hardships."

The Air Medal had been adopted two years earlier to raise airmen's morale. President Roosevelt authorised the Bronze Star Medal by Executive Order 9419 dated 4 February 1944, retroactive to 7 December 1941. This authorisation was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 3, dated 10 February 1944.

President John F. Kennedy amended Executive Order 9419 per Executive Order 11046 dated 24 August 1962 to expand the authorisation to include those serving with friendly forces. This allowed for awards where US service members become involved in an armed conflict where the United States was not a belligerent. At the time of the Executive Order, for example, the US was not a belligerent in Vietnam, so US advisers serving with the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces would not have been eligible for the award.

Since the award criteria state that the Bronze Star Medal may be awarded to "any person...while serving in any capacity in or with" the US Armed Forces, awards to members of foreign armed services serving with the United States are permitted. Thus, a number of Allied soldiers received the Bronze Star Medal in World War II, as well as U.N. soldiers in the Korean War, Vietnamese and allied forces in the Vietnam War, and coalition forces in recent military operations such as the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom and the Iraq War. A number of Bronze Star Medals with the "V" device were awarded to veterans of the Battle of Mogadishu.
A Bronze Star is an award issued for bravery in the face of danger. Specifically, the recipient must perform heroic actions which save the mission, and allow for its continuation. This medal can also be issued without valor, for someone who has made exceptional changes to the unit, and inspired the unit to be better from their influence.

Next Lowest: Army Commendation Medal
Next Highest: Legion of Merit
Legion of Merit
The medal was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 40, dated August 5, 1942. Executive Order 9260, dated October 29, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established the rules for the Legion of Merit and required the President's approval for the award. However, in 1943, at the request of General George C. Marshall, approval authority for U.S. personnel was delegated to the War Department.

The reverse of the medal has the motto taken from the Great Seal of the United States, "ANNUIT COEPTIS" ("He [God] has favored our undertakings") and the date "MDCCLXXXII" (1782) which is the date of America's first decoration, the Badge of Military Merit, now known as the Purple Heart.
The Legion of Merit can be issued for valor for an individual showing outstanding courage in the face of danger. Specifically, the member's actions must not only save the mission, but completely turn the tide of battle, and allow for a victory against opposition forces. A non valorous version of this award can be given to a unit member whose actions have done so much for the unit, that they are directly attributed to its success.

Next Lowest: Bronze Star
Next Highest: Silver Star
Silver Star
The Silver Star is the successor award to the "Citation Star" (3⁄16 silver star) which was established by an Act of Congress on July 9, 1918. On July 19, 1932, the Secretary of War approved the conversion of the "Citation Star" to the Silver Star Medal. The original "Citation Star" is incorporated into the center of medal. The Silver Star's suspension and service ribbon resembles the red, white, and blue suspension and service ribbon of the Certificate of Merit Medal.[3]

Authorization for the Silver Star Medal was placed into law by an Act of Congress for the U.S. Navy on August 7, 1942 and an Act of Congress for the U.S. Army on December 15, 1942. The current statutory authorization for the medal is Title 10 of the United States Code, 10 U.S.C. § 3746 for the U.S. Army, 10 U.S.C. § 8746 for the U.S. Air Force, and 10 U.S.C. § 6244 for the U.S. Navy.

The US Army and Air Force award the medal as the "Silver Star". The US Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard continue to award the medal as the "Silver Star Medal".
The Silver Star is the only valor award which does not have a non valor option. For it to be awarded, a soldier must constantly perform acts of valor and bravery in the battlefield, above and beyond the call of duty. Acts that constantly change the tide of battle, and lead to decisive victories against opposition forces. This is the highest valor award that we can issue in this unit.

Next Lowest: Legion of Merit
Next Highest: N/A
Distinguished Service Medal
The Distinguished Service Medal was authorized by Presidential Order dated 01-02-1918, and confirmed by Congress on 07-09-1918. It was announced by War Department General Order No. 6, 1918-01-12, with the following information concerning the medal: "A bronze medal of appropriate design and a ribbon to be worn in lieu thereof, to be awarded by the President to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army shall hereafter distinguish himself or herself, or who, since 04-06-1917, has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility in time of war or in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States." The Act of Congress on 07-09-1918, recognized the need for different types and degrees of heroism and meritorious service and included such provisions for award criteria. The current statutory authorization for the Distinguished Service Medal is Title 10, United States Code, Section 3743.
At least 2 years Time in Service with no punitive disciplinary actions taken against you.
At least 1 award issued for valor or non-valor rated Bronze Star or Higher.
173rd Medal of Conspicuous Service and Integrity
Created and approved by Former CPT A.Myers in recognition of those who devoted time, effort, and financing for the creation of the new 173rd Airborne website, as well as related platforms and administrative utilities.
Issued by the 173rd C.O.