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Distinguished Service Medal (U.S. Army)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal
TypeDistinguished service medal
Awarded forDistinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility.
Presented byUnited States Department of the Army[1]
EligibilityUnited States Army soldiers
StatusCurrently awarded
EstablishedJanuary 2, 1918
First awardedJanuary 12, 1918
U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg
Next (higher)Department of Defense: Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Department of Homeland Security: Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal
EquivalentNavy and Marine Corps: Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force and Space Force: Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Coast Guard: Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal
Public Health Service: Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal
Next (lower)Silver Star Medal

The Distinguished Service Medal (DSM)[2] is a military decoration of the United States Army that is presented to soldiers who have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the government in a duty of great responsibility. The performance must be such as to merit recognition for service that is clearly exceptional. The exceptional performance of normal duty will not alone justify an award of this decoration.[3]

The Army's Distinguished Service Medal is equivalent to the Navy and Marine Corps' Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Air Force and Space Force's Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal. Prior to the creation of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal in 1960, United States Air Force airmen were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.


  • The Coat of Arms of the United States in Gold surrounded by a circle of Dark Blue enamel, 1 ½ 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+38 inches (35 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes:
  1. 516 inch (7.9 mm) Scarlet 67111;
  2. 116 inch (1.6 mm) Ultramarine Blue 67118;
  3. 58 inch (16 mm) White 67101;
  4. 116 inch (1.6 mm) Ultramarine Blue;
  5. 516 inch (7.9 mm) Scarlet.


The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the United States Army, 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 clearly exceptional. Exceptional performance of normal duty will not alone justify an award of this decoration. 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 a 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 only then under exceptional circumstances with the express approval of the president in each case.[4]


  • The following are authorized components of the Distinguished Service Medal and applicable specifications:
  1. Decoration (regular size): MIL-D-3943/7.
    1. NSN for decoration set: 8455-00-444-0007.
    2. NSN for replacement medal is 8455-00-246-3830.
  2. Decoration (miniature size): MIL-D-3943/7. NSN 8455-00-996-5008.
  3. Ribbon: MIL-R-11589/52. NSN 8455-00-252-9922.
  4. Lapel Button (metal replica of ribbon bar): MIL-L-11484/4. NSN 8455-00-253-0809.

History of the Distinguished Service Medal

The Distinguished Service Medal was authorized by Presidential Order dated 01-02-1918, and confirmed by Congress on 07-09-1918. It was announced by War Department General Order No. 6, 1918-01-12, 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 04-06-1917, 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 07-09-1918, 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.[5]


  • 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:
  1. Marshal Ferdinand Foch
  2. Marshal Joseph Joffre
  3. General Philippe Petain of France
  4. General Louis Franchet d'Espèrey of France
  5. General Sir Arthur Currie of Canada
  6. General Sir John Monash of Australia
  7. Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig of Britain
  8. General Armando Diaz of Italy
  9. General Cyriaque Gillain of Belgium
  10. General John Joseph Pershing of the United States
  11. Field Marshal Živojin Mišić of Serbia

More than 2,000 awards were made during World War I, and by the time the United States entered World War II, approximately 2,800 awards had been made. From July 1, 1941, to June 6, 1969, when the Department of the Army stopped publishing awards of the DSM in Department of the Army General Orders, over 2,800 further awards were made.[6]

Prior to World War II the DSM was the only decoration for non-combat service in the U.S. Army. As a result, before World War II the DSM was awarded to a wider range of recipients than during and after World War II. During World War I awards of the DSM to officers below the rank of brigadier general were fairly common but became rare once the Legion of Merit was established in 1942.

Until the first award of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal in 1965, United States Air Force personnel received this award as well, as was the case with several other Department of the Army decorations until the Department of the Air Force fully established its own system of decorations.

Notable recipients

Because the Army Distinguished Service Medal is principally awarded to general officers, a list of notable recipients would include nearly every general, and some admirals, since 1918, many of whom received multiple awards, as well as a few civilians and sergeants major prominent for their contributions to national defense.

General Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has the record for the greatest number of awards received of the Army Distinguished Service Medal, at 6. He also received three awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal as well as one award each of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal, for a total of twelve Distinguished Service Medals.

Generals of the Army Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower are tied with five awards each received of the Army Distinguished Service Medal. They also each received one award of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, for a total of six DSMs each.

General Lucius D. Clay (Four Star) received three Army DSM awards for his service that included Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces (European Theater) and Military Governor of Germany. During his tenure, Gen. Clay solved his greatest challenge: the Soviet Blockade of Berlin, which was imposed in June 1948. Gen. Clay triggered the Berlin Airlift, which served the city residents during the harsh winter of 1948–1949. He is also a recipient of the Legion of Merit.

General Norman Schwarzkopf received two awards of the Army DSM and one award each of the Defense DSM, Navy DSM, the Air Force DSM and the Coast Guard DSM, for a total of six DSMs.

General Lloyd Austin received four awards of the Army DSM and five awards of the Defense DSM for a total of nine DSMs.

Among notable recipients below flag rank are: X-1 test pilot Chuck Yeager and X-15 test pilot Robert M. White, who both received the DSM as U.S. Air Force majors; Air Force Major Rudolf Anderson, the U-2 pilot shot down during the Cuban Missile Crisis; director Frank Capra, decorated in 1945 as an army colonel; actor James Stewart, decorated in 1945 as an Army Air Forces colonel (later Air Force Brigadier General); Colonel Wendell Fertig, who led Filipino guerrillas behind Japanese lines; Colonel (later Major General) John K. Singlaub, who led partisan forces in the Korean War; and Major Maude C. Davison, who led the "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor" during their imprisonment by the Japanese, and Colonel William S. Taylor, Program Manager Multiple Launch Rocket System. Among notable civilian recipients are Harry L. Hopkins, Robert S. McNamara and Henry L. Stimson.

Notable American and foreign recipients include:

United States Army

United States Navy

United States Marine Corps

United States Air Force

Note – includes Army Air Service, Army Air Corps and Army Air Forces



See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-01-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "ASSIST-QuickSearch Document Details".
  3. ^ "Error". Archived from the original on 2010-03-05. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
  4. ^ "Distinguished Service Medal".
  5. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 3743
  6. ^ George H. Apgar (1995), Awards of the US Army Distinguished Service Medal 1942-1969, Planchet Press
  7. ^ "Valor awards for Vernon E. Megee".
  8. ^ "The Gazette". The Edinburgh Gazette. The Edinburgh Gazette. 18 July 1919. Retrieved 19 June 2014.

External links

This page was last edited on 6 October 2021, at 02:23
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