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Five Commendation ribbons are awarded by branch or service. Top row: Joint Service, Army. Bottom row: Air Force, Navy & Marine Corps, Coast Guard.

The Commendation Medal
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
Commendation Medal
with "V" Device
"V" Device
or Combat "V" (Navy/Marine Corps/Coast Guard) 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
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
Commendation Medal
was originally only a service ribbon and was first awarded by the U.S. Navy
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 Metal Pendant". By 1960, the Commendation Ribbons had been authorized as full medals and were subsequently referred to as Commendation Medals. Additional awards of the Army and Air Force Commendation Medals are denoted by bronze and silver oak leaf clusters. The Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
and Coast Guard Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
are authorized gold and silver 5/16 inch stars to denote additional awards. The Operational Distinguishing Device
Operational Distinguishing Device
("O" device) is authorized for wear on the Coast Guard Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
upon approval of the awarding authority. Order of Precedence is following the Air Medal
Air Medal
but before the Prisoner of War Medal
Prisoner of War Medal
and all campaign medals. Each of the military services also awards separate Achievement Medals which are below the Commendation Medals in precedence.

Contents

1 Commendation Medals by service and branch

1.1 Joint Service 1.2 Army 1.3 Air Force 1.4 Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard

2 See also 3 References 4 Further reading 5 External links

Commendation Medals by service and branch[edit] Joint Service[edit]

Joint Service Commendation Medal

The Joint Service Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
was authorized on 25 June 1963 and is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, after 1 January 1963, distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement or service in a joint duty capacity. This award is intended for senior service on a joint military staff and is senior in precedence to service-specific Commendation Medals. As such, it is worn above the service Commendation Medals on a military uniform.[1][2]

Devices

Oak leaf cluster
Oak leaf cluster
(for subsequent awards) "V" Device
"V" Device
(for valorous actions in direct contact with an enemy)

Army[edit]

Army Commendation Medal

The Army Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States other than General Officers who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army
U.S. Army
after December 6, 1941, distinguished themselves by heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service. The medal may be awarded to a member of another branch of the U.S. Armed Forces or of a friendly foreign nation who, after June 1, 1962, distinguishes themselves by an act of heroism, extraordinary achievement, or significant meritorious service which has been of mutual benefit to the friendly nation and the United States.[3]

Criteria and appearance

The Army Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
is awarded to American and foreign military personnel in the grade of O-6 (Colonel in the U.S. Army) and below who have performed noteworthy service in any capacity with the United States Army. Qualifying service for the award of the medal can be for distinctive meritorious achievement and service, acts of courage involving no voluntary risk of life, or sustained meritorious performance of duty. Approval of the award must be made by an officer in the grade of Colonel (O-6) or higher. The medallion of the Army Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
is a bronze hexagon, 1​3⁄8 inches wide. On the medallion is an American bald eagle with wings spread horizontally, grasping in its talons three crossed arrows. On its breast is a shield paly of thirteen pieces and a chief. The reverse bears a panel for naming between the words FOR MILITARY above and MERIT below, all placed above a laurel sprig. The ribbon is 1​3⁄8 inches wide primarily of myrtle green. It is edged in white and in the center are five thin white stripes spaced equally apart.[3]

Devices

Oak leaf cluster
Oak leaf cluster
and "V" Device

Air Force[edit]

Air Force Commendation Medal

The U.S. Air Force began issuing its own Air Force Commendation Medal in 1958 with additional awards denoted by oak leaf clusters. Prior to this time, USAF recipients received the Army Commendation Medal. It was not until 1996 that the "V" device was authorized on the Air Force Commendation Medal; prior to 1996, there was not a valor distinction in effect for the Air Force Commendation Medal. For USAF enlisted personnel, the Air Force Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
is worth three points under the Air Force enlisted promotion system.[4]

Criteria and appearance

The Air Force Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
is awarded to both American and foreign military personnel of any service branch in the U.S. military grade of O-6 and below, the NATO grade of OF-5 and below, or of any other Allied or Coalition nation in the grade of Colonel or equivalent or below, or the naval grade of Captain or equivalent or below, who have performed noteworthy service in any capacity with the United States Air Force. Qualifying service for the award of the medal can be for distinctive meritorious achievement and service, acts of courage involving no voluntary risk of life, or sustained meritorious performance of duty. Approval of the award must be made by an officer in the grade of Colonel or higher.[5] The Air Force Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
is a bronze hexagonal medallion. On the medallion is a shield surmounted by an eagle superimposed over clouds. On the shield bears a pair of flyer's wings and a vertical baton with an eagle's claw at either end; behind the shield are eight lightning bolts. The design on the shield is derived from the Seal of the Department of the Air Force. The ribbon of the Air Force Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
is golden yellow with blue edges. In the center are three bands of blue, the outer stripes are thin with the center stripe being wider.[5]

Devices

Oak leaf cluster
Oak leaf cluster
and "V" Device

Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard [edit]

Coast Guard Commendation Medal

Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal

After the First World War, the Department of the Navy authorized the Navy Commendation Star, a ribbon device to be placed on the World War I Victory Medal. The ​3⁄16 inch silver star was identical to the Army Citation Star, but not comparable, as the later recognized "gallantry in action", while the Navy Commendation Star denoted those who had been cited and commended for performance of duty by the Secretary of the Navy. An independent Navy Commendation Ribbon was established in November 1943. On 22 March 1950 a metal pendant (of the same design as the pendant of the Army Commendation Medal) was authorized and the Commendation Ribbon was renamed the Navy Commendation Ribbon with Metal Pendant. This award was re-designated as the Navy Commendation Medal in September 1960, and renamed the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
in 1994. This decoration was previously awarded only by flag rank operational commanders, requiring the signature of an admiral or general officer in the grade of O-7, allowing interpretation of the criteria for which the medal may be awarded. Authority to award this decoration was later expanded to captains and colonels in the grade of O-6 currently holding operational command as a commodore, carrier air wing commander or commanding officer. In contrast to the Army and the Air Force, in the U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy
and U.S. Marine Corps, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
has historically considered its commendation medal to be a higher level and less frequently awarded decoration. Outside of those instances where it has been awarded for combat action with a Combat "V", it has typically been reserved for Department Head level officers at the O-4 level, senior Navy Chief Petty Officers (CPO) and senior Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCO) at the E-8 and E-9 level as an "end of tour" award in a given command/organization/unit, and, following a full career, as a retirement award for enlisted personnel between pay grades E-6 and E-9. For more junior personnel, it has occasionally been awarded as an "impact award" for a significant contribution of service, to include those instances of combat service where it has included the Combat "V". In contrast, the awarding of the Army Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
in the U.S. Army
U.S. Army
and the Air Force Commendation Medal in the U.S. Air Force, is not limited to senior service members, and can be awarded to junior NCOs in the grade of E-6 and below (with some recipients as low as E-3) and junior officers in the grade O-3 and below. However, since the early 2000s, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
has been observed as being increasingly awarded to junior USN officers in pay grade O-3 as an "end of tour" award in a given command/unit/organization in a manner similar to that employed by the U.S. Army
U.S. Army
and U.S. Air Force since the late 1960s. Recipient members of the U.S. Marine Corps have always been issued the Navy's commendation medal and there is not a separate commendation medal intended only for Marines. This lack of difference was recognized on August 19, 1994 when Secretary of the Navy
Secretary of the Navy
John Howard Dalton changed the name of the Navy Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
to the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.[6] The U.S. Coast Guard awards a separate Coast Guard Commendation Medal, with a ribbon similar in design to that of its Navy and Marine Corps counterpart. Initially established as the Coast Guard Commendation Ribbon in 1947, it was redesignated as the Coast Guard Commendation Medal in 1959. Criteria for its award has paralleled that of the Navy and Marine Corps.[7]

Devices

​5⁄16 inch star, Combat "V", and Operational Distinguishing Device (Coast Guard)

See also[edit]

Military of the United States portal

Awards and decorations of the United States government Awards and decorations of the United States military Awards and decorations of the United States Coast Guard United States military award devices

References[edit]

^ "Joint Service Commendation Medal". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved March 2, 2014.  ^ Joint Service Commendation Medal, US Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved March 2, 2014. ^ a b "Army Commendation Medal". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved March 2, 2014.  ^ "Factsheets : Air Force Commendation Medal". af.mil.  ^ a b Air Force Instruction 36-2803 The Air Force Military Awards and Decorations Program (PDF). United States Air Force. December 18, 2013. pp. 88–90. Retrieved March 2, 2014.  ^ SECNAVINST 1650.1H 2006 2-31 Archived September 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Coast Guard Commendation Medal". foxfall.com. 

Further reading[edit]

Foster, Frank C. (2002). A Complete Guide to All United States Military Medals, 1939 to Present. Fountain Inn, SC: MOA Press. ISBN 1-884-45218-3. OCLC 54755134.  Kerrigan, Evans E. (1971). American War Medals and Decorations. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-12101-0. OCLC 128058.  reprinted 1990, ISBN 0-792-45082-5 OCLC 21467942 Robles, Philip K. (1971). United States Military Medals and Ribbons. Rutland, VT: C. E. Tuttle. ISBN 0-804-80048-0. OCLC 199721. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Commendation Medals.

US Army Institute of Heraldry: Army Commendation Medal Department of the Army, DoD Army Commendation Medal
Commendation Medal
578.20 US Army Institute of Heraldry: Joint Service Commendation Medal HRC Joint Awards FAQ

Inter-service awards and decorations of the United States military

Federal military decorations

Medal of Honor Silver Star
Silver Star
Medal Legion of Merit Distinguished Flying Cross Bronze Star Medal Purple Heart Meritorious Service Medal Air Medal

Department level military decorations

Defense Distinguished Service Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Defense Meritorious Service Joint Service Commendation Joint Service Achievement Joint Meritorious Unit

Federal service medals

Prisoner of War National Defense Service Medal Antarctica Service Korean Service Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Southwest Asia Service Kosovo Campaign Afghanistan Campaign Medal Iraq Campaign Medal Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Korea Defense Service Armed Forces Service Medal Humanitarian Service Medal Outstanding Volunteer Service Armed Forces Reserve

v t e

Awards and decorations of the United States Air Force

Decorations

Air Force Cross Air Force Distinguished Service Airman's Medal Aerial Achievement Air Force Commendation Air Force Achievement

Service medals

Air Force Combat Action Combat Readiness Good Conduct Air and Space Campaign Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal

Unit awards

Presidential Unit Citation Gallant Unit Citation Air Force Meritorious Unit Outstanding Unit Organizational Excellence

Service ribbons

Outstanding Airman of the Year Air Force Recognition Overseas Service Short Tour Overseas Service Long Tour Air Force Expeditionary Service Air Force Longevity Air Force Special
Special
Duty NCO PME Graduate Basic Training Honor Graduate Marksmanship Air Force Training

v t e

Awards and decorations of the United States Army

Decorations

Distinguished Service Cross Distinguished Service Medal Soldier's Medal Army Commendation Army Achievement

Good conduct

Army Good Conduct Reserve Achievement

Unit awards

Presidential Unit Citation Valorous Unit Meritorious Unit Commendation Superior Unit

Service ribbons

Sea Duty NCO Professional Development Army Service Overseas Service Reserve Overseas Training

v t e

Awards and decorations of the United States Department of the Navy

Personal decorations

Navy Cross Navy Distinguished Service Navy and Marine Corps Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation

Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Combat Action

Unit awards

Presidential Unit Citation Navy Unit Commendation Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Navy E Ribbon

Good Conduct medals

Navy Good Conduct Marine Corps Good Conduct Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Selected Marine Corps Reserve

Expeditionary medals

Navy Expeditionary Marine Corps Expeditionary

Service ribbon
Service ribbon
awards

Sea Service Naval Reserve Sea Service Arctic Service Antarctica Service Overseas Service

Navy Recruiting Service Marine Corps Recruiting Service

Navy Accession Training Service Ribbon Marine Corps Drill Instructor Marine Corps Security Guard Marine Corps Combat Instructor Navy Ceremonial Duty Navy Basic Military Training Honor Graduate

Marksmanship

Navy Expert Rifleman Medal Navy Sharpshooter Rifle Ribbon Navy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal

Navy Sharpshooter Pistol Shot Ribbon Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon

v t e

Awards and decorations of the United States Coast Guard

Decorations

Coast Guard Cross Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal Coast Guard Medal Commendation Medal Achievement Medal Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon

Lifesaving Medals

Gold Lifesaving Medal Silver Lifesaving Medal

Unit Awards

Presidential Unit Citation Coast Guard Unit Commendation Meritorious Unit Commendation Meritorious Team Commendation Coast Guard E Ribbon

Conduct Medals

Good Conduct Medal Reserve Good Conduct Medal

Service Awards

Combat Action Ribbon Enlisted Person of the Year Ribbon Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal Special
Special
Operations Service Ribbon Sea Service Ribbon Restricted Duty Ribbon Overseas Service Ribbon Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon Recruiting Service Ribbon

Marksmanship

Distinguished Marksman Medal Distinguished Pistol Shot Medal Silver Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Medal Silver Pistol Excellence-in-Competition Medal Bronze Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Medal Bronze Pistol Excellence-in-Competition Medal Expert Rifle Medal Expert Pistol Medal Sharpshooter Rifle Ribbon Sharpshooter Pistol Ribbon Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon Pistol Marksma

.