US Military Awards: History, Traditions and Features

US Military Awards: History, Traditions and Features

The United States in its military award system has a number of very specific features that distinguish them from the armed forces of other countries of the world. However, the main place in it is still occupied by the usual breastplates. We’ll talk about them today with you in more detail.


It was not by chance that I released the word “order” from a list of army insignia. In American military awards, the division into orders and medals is absent as such. The name of a particular award is given solely by its appearance. Moreover, there are differences in the variety of honorary badges that do not have a metal equivalent at all and are ribbons that are similar in appearance to the usual order straps. However, for medals, crosses and stars, such bars are also available. And also in almost all cases - reduced copies of the award, corresponding to its full-size sample. Wearing one or another option depends on the form of clothing.

The awards are divided into federal and military branches. Some insignia can be awarded to military personnel of both ground forces and soldiers of the Marine Corps, the Air Force, and the naval fleet and the National Guard. Many, however, are only for those who belong to a particular military formation. In addition to personal awards, many military men wear “collective” ones: unlike the USSR and Russia, if a unit receives a certain insignia, it does not attach to its banner, but is worn by all its personnel. Sometimes - only by those soldiers and officers who served in the unit specifically during the event for which the award was made. But only during the service in this unit.

Another significant point: the US military can be awarded the same award several times. But here you will not see the paintings familiar to us from photographs of the Great Patriotic War, depicting our heroes, others of which had three or four “identical” orders on their chests. Some detail (letter, number, laurel wreath or something else) is simply added to the award bar, indicating a rewarding. But the tradition when wearing is to have all honestly served insignia not in random order, but "in seniority", in the US Army it is present just like ours.

The highest and most honorable of the U.S. military decorations is the Medal of Honor, commonly referred to as the Medal of Honor. (Although it would be more correct to call this award a “medal of honor”.)


It is comparable in level with our Golden Hero Star. There are three options: Army Medal of Honor, Air Force Medal of Honor, Navy Medal of Honor (army, air force and navy). Established by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 and was originally intended only for soldiers. The award was extended to officers by the US Congress a year later. Awarded for the exceptional courage and heroism shown during hostilities. According to reports, the number of those awarded it is less than 2500 people.

The following are the Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross and Navy Cross: respectively, the Cross of Outstanding Service and Crosses for the Air Force and Navy. In fact, there are three options for one award for different branches of the armed forces. Behind them is the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, which is the US Department of Defense medal for outstanding service. This is the same, but, of course, a lower rank. It is followed by the Distinguished Service Medal - just an outstanding service medal. “Closes” this Silver Star group of awards - something like our analogue of the medal “For Military Merit”. Characteristically, there are four degrees of this award, but US troops can only get the lowest of them. The rest is for foreigners.

Following are the awards: Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldier's Medal, Bronze Star Medal and Joint Service Commendation Medal (Unified Medal of Commendation), which may be awarded to servicemen of both the army and the air force, the navy and the coast guard. There is also a distinction for long service - Army Good Conduct Medal, that is, an army medal of excellent service, as well as commemorative medals for participating in various military campaigns. An example is the Korean Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal - medals for the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

The most, perhaps, the strangest US military award for us, I would call the Prisoner of War Medal (POW). Who and for what she is awarded, it is clear from the name. What can I say? Everyone has their own ideas about military prowess and exploits, but they don’t go to a foreign army with their award charter ...
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  1. xomaNN 4 June 2020 12: 49 New
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    The material would be interesting if the author gave illustrations. Appearance of the USA awards.

    When do you see in the films the junior officers of the USA (lieutenant-captain) and on his chest a couple of dozen order blocks? Despite the fact that we have with such a length of service 2-3-5 pieces of medals most often?
    1. val43 4 June 2020 13: 06 New
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      Firstly, it’s a movie, and it’s only sculpted more beautifully. Secondly, in my opinion, there were photos of Suvorov soldiers on the VO, the same they had half a dozen or more.
      1. xomaNN 4 June 2020 17: 40 New
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        Not only in cinema, in documentary reports on several rows of slats from the Yankees-military. Maybe they don’t like in the SA medal - “10-15 years of service”, but like “six months in the army”? lol Or "for the brave appearance of the month"? wassat
        1. val43 4 June 2020 18: 44 New
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          Honestly, I didn’t pay attention - the high is worrying Americans. I am worried about our mummers 41-45 years of birth with the combat iconostasis! awards cleaner than Brezhnev. So Leonid Ilyich even knew what for what and what to wear before, and these sculpt anyhow. I won’t be surprised if the next wave of “veterans” of the Great Patriotic War, already born in 1950, will attach the Hero Star to the navel ...
    2. ccsr 4 June 2020 13: 09 New
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      Quote: xomaNN
      The material would be interesting if the author gave illustrations. Appearance of the USA awards.

      I agree. I think the author will take this into account, and at least find photos of these awards on the Internet, and add them to the article - I hope this will not be a big deal for him.
    3. Civil 4 June 2020 13: 40 New
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      Well, all the awards, here we have Cossacks and cadets all in awards. From the navel to the Adam's apple)
      1. ANB
        ANB 5 June 2020 23: 33 New
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        . cadets all in awards

        I won’t say anything about the cadets, but Nakhimov’s only had a Komsomol badge. In the highest - Komsomol, Python sign, for a long trip. Carrying more was considered bad form.
  2. Carnifexx 4 June 2020 12: 50 New
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    The most, perhaps, the strangest US military award for us, I would call the Prisoner of War Medal (POW). Who and for what she is awarded, it is clear from the name. What can I say? Everyone has their own ideas about military prowess and exploits, but they don’t go to a foreign army with their award charter ...

    Well, I don’t know they have quite normal concepts about military prowess and exploits, which can be seen even from films, and finally:
    To award this medal, the method of release from captivity does not play a role, but if it is proved that, being in captivity, a soldier cooperated with an adversary or violated a soldier’s Code of Conduct, then he may be deprived of this award.
    1. Paranoid50 4 June 2020 13: 52 New
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      Quote: Carnifexx
      as seen from films,

      laughing laughing laughing
      Quote: Carnifexx
      if it is proved that, being in captivity, a soldier cooperated with an adversary or violated a soldier’s Code of Conduct, then he may be deprived of this award.

      However, severe punishment, almost savage. wassat
    2. Varyag_0711 4 June 2020 20: 58 New
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      Carnifexx (Andrey)
      Well, I don’t know they have quite normal concepts about military prowess and exploits
      Well, yes, to shoot civilians from a helicopter or to flood the whole country with napalm, this is precisely in the Amerzosian concept of "honor and valor."
      what is visible even from films
      So, the Amerzos heroes exist only in Hollywood cinema, but in fact they are scoundrels, kneeling and weeping with fear at gunpoint of Iranian border guards. All their courage from impunity, when the enemy can be bombed with impunity, and when they get a rebuff, then they immediately turn into wet hens.
      After Korea and Vietnam, the war in the USA ended, and there they were marked not so much by valor and courage, but by cruelty.
      A soldier serving for grandmother and greencard a priori cannot be a hero. I have more respect for the Germans than for all the Naglosaks together.
    3. Vasilenko Vladimir 5 June 2020 07: 01 New
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      Quote: Carnifexx
      they have quite normal concepts of military prowess and exploits, which is evident even from the films

      learning similar topics from movies is something
  3. Alekseev 4 June 2020 13: 04 New
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    I did not find the main thing in the article.
    How are we, mostly purely moral satisfaction, with the exception of heroes?
    Or in the USA there are "order money" canceled at the time by Comrade Stalin at the request of veterans
    1. Blackmokona 4 June 2020 13: 17 New
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      Possession of the Medal of Honor gives a number of privileges to its owner [27]:

      Pentagon Heroes Hall
      The name of the soldier who received the Medal of Honor can be entered on a special List of Honor Medal, after which the soldier gets the right to request an additional monthly pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs ($ 1,259 as of January 1, 2017) [28];
      Uniformed service personnel with a length of service of at least 20 years are entitled to a 10% bonus to a military pension, provided that the total amount of the bonus does not exceed 75%;
      Free use of military air transport subject to availability [28];
      Children of persons awarded the Medal of Honor are enrolled in military academies, regardless of the quotas allocated to the states, provided that they meet all the requirements for candidates [28];
      Retired servicemen awarded with a medal have the right to wear military uniforms “at their discretion”. All other retired military personnel may wear military uniforms only for ceremonial events [29];
      Receive invitations to the inauguration ceremony of the US President and related celebrations. Persons in active military and public service are granted administrative leave to participate in such events [28];
      A portrait of the recipient and a bronze nameplate are placed in the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon;
      In case of death - installation of a special tombstone at the expense of the Department of Veterans Affairs [28], as well as the right to burial at Arlington Cemetery [30];
      When housing at military bases, the awarded must be provided with conditions corresponding to the prestige of the award [28];
      In addition to the privileges and privileges enshrined in the law, there is a tradition according to which other servicemen, including the Commander-in-Chief - the President of the United States, at the meeting are the first to salute with an awarded medal, regardless of the seniority of military ranks [31].
    2. Glory1974 4 June 2020 14: 17 New
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      Or in the USA there are "order money" canceled at the time by Comrade Stalin at the request of veterans

      I don’t know how under Stalin, since 2012, in the Russian army, servicemen have been paid for state awards. There is a percentage of the monthly salary. Upon retirement, they pay 2 salaries for each award at a time.
      For the order "For Merit to the Fatherland" and some others, a pension supplement is required. What does this order have for the military and for civilians, and they pay all categories.
      1. Alekseev 4 June 2020 20: 11 New
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        They pay, but not for everything. For example, they pay for the order of courage, and they draw figs for the George Cross.
        It is necessary to bring spinning in the award system, to introduce clear rules. The battle order is only for military merits, for it payment, for active participation is an honorary sign, for prolonged and successful amusement of the people - diploma, let it be a prize.
        In this case, the importance of state. awards will rise to the proper level.
  4. Vitaly Tsymbal 4 June 2020 13: 24 New
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    Unfortunately, briefly and without illustration of the awards, in the place of the author, I would eventually return to this topic, and not only in the US Army, but also in other countries. Unfortunately, our orders and medals have depreciated due to commerce and the freedom to manufacture them. Deprecated by the "order bearers" from the shock business and "successful managers" when (an example of Syria) a military man had to plow days to fly and at the risk of his life to get a medal, and another flew in, sang a couple of songs right there on take-off, drank a glass with bosses and home, count the "combat" for participating in the war on terrorism ....
    1. ANB
      ANB 5 June 2020 23: 29 New
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      . and the other flew in, sang a couple of songs right there on take-off, drank a glass with his superiors and went home, counting the “combat” for participating in the war on terrorism

      Perhaps such. For example, I like Rosenbaum as a poet, composer and performer. With pleasure I was at his concert. However, the colonel of the medical service infuriates his sailing in a marine uniform and is marked with the sign "admitted to independent control of the ship", which doctors are not supposed to do at all.
      In contrast, my daughter’s vocal teacher was Syria with concerts, lived in the trailer for a month, and performed live in the heat. But no awards and combat. And I’m happy that I was there, since I got a lot of experience.
  5. Altona 4 June 2020 13: 27 New
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    Looking at our awards you feel sincere disappointment in our award system. Hero of Labor Rotenberg became the cherry on the cake. And how scarce was the rewarding of our grandfathers at the beginning of World War II with disproportionate modern feats.
  6. tihonmarine 4 June 2020 13: 31 New
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    Soviet orders and medals, especially from the time of the Second World War, more adequately reflected the exploits, courage and merits of our soldiers, partisans, officers and generals, as well as rear workers.
  7. Catfish 4 June 2020 14: 15 New
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    The article looks very poor due to the lack of illustrative material. A pity, the topic is very interesting. It seems that someone instructed the author to write an article about the awards, and he took it and simply “unsubscribed”. In this case, it’s better not to do anything at all.
    But thanks for the Prisoner of War Medal, I couldn’t even imagine what was happening somewhere.
    1. ccsr 4 June 2020 20: 03 New
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      Quote: Sea Cat
      The article looks very poor due to the lack of illustrative material.

      We will help the author who can than
  8. Vladimir Mashkov 4 June 2020 15: 45 New
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    I fully agree with almost all commentators: the article would VERY win, would become many times better if there were color colorful images of awards. There is a suggestion: to finalize and repeat the publication. Why did the editor not see this? I do not understand!
  9. 2 Level Advisor 4 June 2020 17: 16 New
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    The medal "For service in the occupying army" is a very strange medal .. at least the name ..
    The medal “For Outstanding Service as a Volunteer” - for the performance of volunteer duties during the service, sounds strange too ..
    1. saygon66 5 June 2020 11: 57 New
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      - In our understanding, the word occupation has a negative meaning ... And no wonder. In other cases, this is only a term for maintaining order (for example) on previously occupied territory ... There is still a lot of everything - it draws for an entire article ... A medal was issued both in the First World War and the Second ...


      - Patch of a soldier serving in the OA in Germany.

      - The medal “For volunteer service” is awarded to: Retirees, reservists and employees of the National Guard for achievements in the service of society in the Volunteer Rescue Service, Civil Air Patrol, etc.
  10. Oleg Zorin 4 June 2020 19: 19 New
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    Passing captive with honor is not so easy, so this medal does not surprise me
  11. Oleg Zorin 4 June 2020 19: 26 New
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    Purple Heart reward all injured
    1. ccsr 4 June 2020 20: 07 New
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      Quote: Oleg Zorin
      Purple Heart reward all injured

      That's how she looks
  12. Undecim 4 June 2020 22: 47 New
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    It is comparable in level with our Golden Hero Star. There are three options: Army Medal of Honor, Air Force Medal of Honor, Navy Medal of Honor (army, air force and navy). Established by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 and was originally intended only for soldiers. The award was extended to officers by the US Congress a year later. Awarded for the exceptional courage and heroism shown during hostilities. According to reports, the number of those awarded it is less than 2500 people.
    What does the propagandist mean? Half of the information in the paragraph is incorrect, but pretentiously written.
    Medal of Honor was established in 1861 as the Navy Medal of Honor. In 1862, an award was established for the army - Army Medal of Honor. Air Force Medal of Honor was established in 1965.
    Over the entire history, 3506 people have received this award.
  13. saygon66 5 June 2020 00: 13 New
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    - An almost complete table of rewards ... Click to enlarge.
  14. Real Vugluskr 7 June 2020 13: 52 New
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    The topic of ribbons is not disclosed. In reality, the Yankees in their ceremonial uniforms have more of them than other heroic "General Shoigu and Serdyukov."

    In this regard, the British system would be more interesting, that’s where the tradition is.

    And the most modest reward system, probably in Israel. Tape for participating in every war. Three battle medals. Four levels for the distinction declared by the military commander of the brigade commander, division commander, comocircle and the NSS. One award for one war or a single combat operation in the aggregate of affairs. Only the straps themselves are worn. No anniversary or foreign awards.

    Only the Papuan boar fang in the nostril is more modest.
    1. cat Rusich 7 June 2020 20: 20 New
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      Find and read (history.wikireading.ru/17488) about the insignia of the Great Plains Indians. For example, signs - captured a blanket, quiver, shield ... The Papuans (residents of New Guinea) may have more insignia than ours, and among the peoples of Polynesia (such as Maori) the insignia are expressed in the form of tattoos. Every society with armed forces has insignia and distinction in battle.
  15. cat Rusich 7 June 2020 20: 40 New
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    Silver star - Silver star. For courage and courage shown in battle. Third in seniority (after the Medal of Honor and the Cross For Outstanding Merit). Colonel of the United States Army David H. Haskell - 8 (eight) Silver Stars (3 Silver Stars for the Korean War 1951-53, 5 (five) Silver Stars for Vietnam). Bronze star - Bronze star 4th - after the Silver star, an example of an awarded Bronze star - commander of the 49th Guards Rifle Division V.F. Margelov (future commander of the USSR Airborne Forces).