There are many different types of military medals. Feel free to learn about them in here with this list of medals in the U.S. military.

10 Types of Military Medals

If you’ve ever seen a service member in full dress uniform, you’ve probably wondered what the medals or colorful ribbons on their jacket mean. There are a significant amount of military decorations and awards. Each of them has its own criteria, significance, and history. 

Some military medals are easier to recognize than others, but some of them might be trickier. Maybe you want to connect with a relative or perhaps you’re just curious.

Whatever the case. this guide will go over ten popular types of military medals. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started. 

1. Medal of Honor

Did you know that there are fewer than 137 living Recipients of the Medal of Honor? This is the highest military honor presented for valor. It is also the only military award that is congressionally approved for presentation by the president.

Clearly, the military medal of honor is not an easy medal to get. The criteria for receiving this award involve going above and beyond the call of duty while “engaged in action against an enemy of the United States.”

There are three different versions for the Medal of Honor: the Air Force version, the U.S. Army version, and the version for the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps. The Medal of honor is also known as “The Congressional Medal of Honor.” 

2. Navy Cross

The second-highest military medal awarded for valor is Service Crosses. This medal was first awarded by the Army in 1918. These evolved into a medal presented for courage to qualifying service members from any branch of the military. 

The Navy created its own version in 1919, but it initially awarded distinguished service, not an excellent performance in combat. Now the Navy Cross awards bravery in combat only, and it is second only to the Medal Of Honor.

Members of the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps can receive this medal.

3. The Silver Star

Created in 1918, the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal awarded specifically for impressive service under fire. It was originally known as the Citation Star and transformed in 1932 to the medal known today.

There are some similarities between the Medal of Honor and the Silver Star. The person who presents a Silver Star award has to be a commander-in-theatre, which means that they are at least a three-star general. 

4. Distinguished Flying Cross

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military medal that awards achievement and heroism related to flight. Established in the early 1900s, it was first granted to the U.S. Army. 

The difference between this medal and the previously mentioned is that combat is not the only reason DFC exists. Amelia Earhart is a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross recipient. She earned her medal through achievement as opposed to combat.

5. The Bronze Star

The Bronze Star is another medal that awards achievement or heroism. Both foreign military organizations and U.S. troops can receive this medal. It was created in 1944 and can be presented for service and/or valor. 

Like the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star is not specific to combat. It can also be presented for excellent service as well as combat performance. 

6. The Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is awarded for loss of life or wounds in combat, particularly as the result of an act of any opposing force. It has origins in the American Revolution and was originally created and presented as the Badge of Military Merit. The Purple Heart was established in 1932.

The Purple Heart is different from other military medals because it awards personnel for meeting a specific set of criteria. There’s no recommendation necessary. 

7. Coast Guard Cross

The Coast Guard Cross is another award that presents exemplary heroism in combat. This is the second-highest honor that a member of the Coast Guard can receive. The highest honor is a Medal of Honor. 

Only members who serve in any capacity with the Coast Guard when it is not operating under the command of the Navy.

8. Defense Distinguished Service Medal

The Defense Distinguished Service Medal was established in 1970 by President Richard Nixon. It is awarded by the Secretary of Defense. It acknowledges honorable service in a position of great responsibility while assigned to a joint services activity.

It is the highest non-combat honor that a member can receive. 

9. Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal

Another of the top service medal that a member can receive is the Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal. It was created in 2003, part of an executive order of President George W. Bush in 2003. Any member of the armed forces can receive it.

The first recipient to receive the Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal was Admiral Thad W. Allen.

10. Soldier’s Medal

Finally, the last medal on the list is the Soldier’s Medal. It was first authorized in 1926, and it’s another medal that was awarded for non-combat heroism. 

It is one of the Army’s most distinguished honors, and it acknowledges heroism through the deliberate risk of life. It can also award actions taken on behalf of other soldiers or civilians.

The best way to provide justice to the integrity and bravery of dedicated servicemen and women is with custom made military coins. They are not just keepsakes or mementos but a symbol of a higher purpose.

They are not mementos or keepsakes, but a symbol of a higher

10 Types of Military Medals

Military medals recognize bravery, heroism, or exemplary service. It awards their actions during war or peacetime in defense of their fellow service members or civilians. They can be earned for actions either outside of military conflict or during combat.

With all of the different military medals available, it can be overwhelming to understand what they all mean. These are the ones to get familiar with. 

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