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Description: A bronze compass rose 1 11/16 inches circumscribing diameter and charged with an eagle volant carrying two lightning flashes in its talons. A fleur-de-lis at the top point holds the suspension ring. The points of the compass rose on the reverse are modeled with the central portion plain for engraving the name of the recipient

Ribbon: The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/8 inch ultramarine blue 67118; 1/4 inch golden orange 67109; center 5/8 inch ultramarine blue; 1/4 inch golden orange; and 1/8 inch ultramarine blue.

Criteria: The Air Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the armed forces of the United States, shall have distinguished himself by meritorious achievement awhile participation in aerial flight. Awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit or heroism or for meritorious service. Award of the Air Medal is primarily intended to recognize those personnel who are on current crew member or non-crew member flying status which requires them to participate in aerial flight on a regular and frequent basis in the performance of their primary duties. However, it may also be awarded to certain other individuals whose combat duties require regular and frequent flying in other than a passenger status or individuals who perform a particularly noteworthy act while ;performing the function of a crew member but who are not on flying status. These individuals must make a discernable contribution to the operational land combat mission or to the mission of the aircraft in flight. Examples of personnel whose combat duties require them to fly include those in the attack elements of units involved in air-land assaults against and armed enemy and those directly involved in such activities, normally at the brigade/group level and below, serves only to establish eligibility for award of the Air Medal; the degree of heroism, meritorious achievement or exemplary service determines who should receive the award. Awards will not be made to individuals who use air transportation solely for the purpose of moving from point to point in a combat zone.

Background: In a letter from the Secretary of War to the Director, Bureau of Budget, dated 9 March 1942, the Secretary submitted a proposed executive order establishing the Air Medal for award to any person who, while serving in any capacity of the Army or the United States, distinguishes himself by meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight.

The Air Medal was authorized by President Roosevelt by Executive order 9158, dated 11 May 1942. Oak leaf clusters were initially used to denote subsequent awards of the Air Medal. The number of additional awards were so great that the oak leaf clusters did not fit on the ribbon. As a result the policy was changed in September 1968 to require the use of numbers to indicate subsequent awards of the Air Medal.

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