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Distinguished Service Medal

The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the United States military, has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility. The performance must be such as to merit recognition for service which is hclearly exceptional. Exceptional performance of normal duty will not alone justify an award of this decoration.

Do not confuse this award with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

For service not related to actual war, the term "duty of a great responsibility" applies to a narrower range of positions, than in time of war, and requires evidence of conspicuously significant achievement. However, justification of the award may accrue by virtue of exceptionally meritorious service in a succession of high positions of great importance.

Awards may be made to persons other than members of the Armed Forces of the United States for wartime services only, and then only under exceptional circumstances, with the express approval of the President in each case.

Design of the Distinguished Service Medal

The medal consists of the Coat of Arms of the United States in Gold surrounded by a circle of Dark Blue enamel, 1.5 inches in diameter, bearing the inscription "FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MCMXVIII". On the reverse is a scroll for the name of the recipient (which is to be engraved) upon a trophy of flags and weapons. The medal is suspended by a bar attached to the ribbon. The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 5/16 inch Scarlet 67111; 1/16 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 5/8 inch White 67101; 1/16 inch Ultramarine Blue; and 5/16 inch Scarlet.

History of the Distinguished Service Medal

The Distinguished Service Medal was authorized by Presidential Order dated January 2, 1918, and confirmed by Congress on July 9, 1918. It was announced by War Department General Order No. 6, January 12, 1918, 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 April 6, 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 July 9, 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.

Among the first awards of the Distinguished Service Medal for service in World War I, were those to the Commanding Officers of the Allied Armies: Marshals Foch and Joffre, General Petain of France, Field Marshal Haig of Great Britain, General Diaz of Italy, General Gillain of Belgium, and General Pershing.

Recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal



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