1. Description: The degrees of the Legion of Merit are as depicted below with
description and components for each:CHIEF COMMANDER
a. Chief Commander:
(1) Description: On a wreath of Green laurel
joined at the bottom by a Gold bow-knot (rosette), a domed five-pointed White star bordered Crimson, points reversed with
v-shaped extremities tipped with a Gold ball. In the center, a Blue disk encircled by Gold clouds, with 13 White stars arranged
in the pattern that appears on the United States Coat of Arms. Between each point, within the wreath are crossed arrows pointing
outwards. The overall width is 2 15/16 inches. The words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" are engraved in the center of the reverse.
A miniature of the decoration in Gold on a horizontal Gold bar is worn on the service ribbon.
(2) Components: Decoration breast badge, MIL-D-3943/12,
NSN for complete decoration set is 8455-00-269-5752; NSN for individual decoration set is 8455-00-246-3821. The specification
for the service ribbon is MIL-R-11589/80 and the NSN is 8455-00-252-9925. The lapel button is MIL-L-11484/10-1, NSN is 8455-00-253-0813.COMMANDER
(1) Description: On a wreath of Green laurel
joined at the bottom by a Gold bow-knot (rosette), a five-pointed White star bordered Crimson, points reversed with v-shaped
extremities tipped with a Gold ball. In the center, a Blue disk encircled by Gold clouds, with 13 White stars arranged in
the pattern that appears on the United States Coat of Arms. Between each star point, within the wreath are crossed arrows
pointing outwards. The overall width is 2 1/4 inches. A Gold laurel wreath in the v-shaped angle at the top connects an oval
suspension ring to the neck ribbon that is 1 15/16 inches in width. The reverse of the five-pointed star is enameled in White,
and the border is Crimson. In the center, a disk for engraving the name of the recipient surrounded by the words "ANNUIT COEPTIS
MDCCLXXXII." An outer scroll contains the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." The service ribbon is the same as the ribbon for
the degree of Commander, except the ribbon attachment is Silver.
(2) Components: The decoration set for degree
of Commander consists of the decoration, service ribbon and lapel button and is NSN 8455-00-269-5753. Individual components
are the decoration, MIL-D-3943/14, NSN 8455-00-246-3819; the service ribbon, MIL-R-11589/80, NSN 8455-00-252-9928; and the
lapel button, MIL-L-11484/10-2, NSN 8455-00-253-0814. The neck ribbon for the degree of Commander is 1 15/16 inches wide and
consists of the following stripes: 1/16 inch White 67101; center 1 13/16 inches Crimson 67112; and 1/16 inch White. OFFICER
(1) Description: The design is the same
as the degree of Commander except overall width is 1 7/8 inches and the pendant has a suspension ring instead of the wreath
for attaching the ribbon. A Gold replica of the medal, 3/4 inch wide, is centered on the suspension ribbon.
(2) Components. The decoration set for degree
of Officer consists of the decoration, service ribbon and lapel button and is NSN 8455-00-269-5754. Individual components
are the regular size decoration, MIL-D-3943/13, NSN 8455-00-246-3823; the service ribbon, MIL-R-11589/80, NSN 8455-00-252-9936;
and the lapel button, MIL-L-11484/10-3, NSN 8455-00-257-4307. The miniature decoration, MIL-D-3943/13, is not part of the
set but is stocked separately, NSN 8455-00-996-5010.LEGIONNAIRE AND LEGION OF MERIT
d. Legionnaire/Legion of Merit:
(1) Description: The design is the same as
the degree of Officer, except the suspension ribbon does not have the medal replica.
(2) Components: The decoration set for degree
of Legionnaire and the Legion of Merit issued to U.S. personnel consists of the decoration, service ribbon and lapel button
and is NSN 8455-00-262-3469. Individual components are the regular size decoration, MIL-D-3943/13, NSN 8455-00-246-3832; the
service ribbon, MIL-R-11589/80, NSN 8455-00-252-9932; and the lapel button, MIL-L-11484/10-4, NSN 8455-00-257-4306. The miniature
decoration, MIL-D-3943/13, is not part of the set but is stocked separately, NSN 8455-00-996-5009.
2. Ribbon: The ribbon for the decorations is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of
the following stripes: 1/16 inch White 67101; center 1 1/4 inches Crimson 67112; and 1/16 inch White.
3. Criteria: a. The degrees of Chief Commander, Commander, Officer, and Legionnaire
are awarded only to members of armed forces of foreign nations under the criteria outlined in Army Regulation 672-7 and is
based on the relative rank or position of the recipient as follows:
(1) Chief Commander - Chief of State
or Head of Government.
(2) Commander - Equivalent of an U.S. military
Chief of Staff or higher position but not to Chief of State.
(3) Officer - General of Flag Officer
below the equivalent of a U.S. military Chief of Staff; Colonel or equivalent rank for service in assignments equivalent to
those normally held by a General or Flag Officer in U.S. military service; or Military Attaches.
(4) Legionnaire - All recipients not included
b. The Legion of Merit is awarded to all members of the Armed Forces
of the United States without reference to degree for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services
and achievements. The performance must have been such as to merit recognition of key individuals for service rendered in a
clearly exceptional manner. Performance of duties normal to the grade, branch, specialty or assignment, and experience of
an individual is not an adequate basis for this award. For service not related to actual war the term "key individual" applies
to a narrower range of positions than in time of war and requires evidence of significant achievement. In peacetime, service
should be in the nature of a special requirement or of an extremely difficult duty performed in an unprecedented and clearly
exceptional manner. However, justification of the award may accrue by virtue of exceptionally meritorious service in a succession
of important positions.
4. Background: a. Although recommendations for creation of a Meritorious Service
Medal were initiated as early as September 1937, no formal action was taken toward approval. In a letter to the Quartermaster
General (QMG) dated 24 December 1941, The Adjutant General formally requested action be initiated to create a Meritorious
Service Medal and provide designs in the event the decoration was established. Proposed designs prepared by Bailey, Banks,
and Biddle and the Office of the Quartermaster General were provided to Assistant Chief of Staff G1 (Colonel Heard) by the
QMG on 5 January 1942. The Assistant Chief of Staff G1 (BG Hilldring) in a response to the QMG on 3 April 1942, indicated
the Secretary of War approved the design recommended by the QMG and directed action be taken to assure the design of the Legion
of Merit (change of name) be ready for issue immediately after legislation authorizing it was enacted into law.
b. An Act of Congress (Public Law 671 - 77th Congress,
Chapter 508, 2d Session) on 20 July 1942, established the Legion of Merit and provided that the medal "shall have suitable
appurtenances and devices and not more than four degrees, and which the President, under such rules and regulations as he
shall prescribe, may award to (a) personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States and of the Government of the Commonwealth
Philippines and (b) personnel of the armed forces of friendly foreign nations who, since the proclamation of an emergency
by the President on 8 September 1939, shall have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance
of outstanding services". The medal was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 40 dated 5 August 1942. Executive Order 9260,
dated 29 October 1942, by President Roosevelt, established the rules for the Legion of Merit and required the President's
approval for award. However, in 1943, at the request of General George C. Marshall, approval authority for U.S. personnel
was delegated to the War Department. Executive Order 10600, dated 15 March 1955, by President Eisenhower, revised approval
authority. Current provisions are contained in Title 10, United States Code 1121.
c. The reverse of the medal has the motto taken from the Great Seal
of the United States "ANNUIT COEPTIS" (He [God] Has Favored Our Undertakings) and the date "MDCCLXXXII" (1782) which is the
date of America's first decoration, the Badge of Military Merit, now known as the Purple Heart. The ribbon design also follows
the pattern of the Purple Heart ribbon.
d. The Legion of Merit was the first American decoration awarded to
citizens of other nations. Awardees included:
(1) Chief Commander - China's Generalissimo
Chiang Kaishek was a first recipient.
(2) Commander - Brazil's Brigadier General
Amaro Soares Bittencourt was first to receive this or any of the degrees.
(3) Officer - first to receive the Officer
degree were Colonel Johanes K. Meijer of the Royal Netherlands Army, Major Herbert J. Thompson of the British Army, and Major
Stephan M. Dobrowalski of the Polish Army.
(4) Legionnaire/Legion of Merit - First award
to Lieutenant Anna A. Bernatitus, heroic Navy Nurse who served at Bataan and Corregidor.
(5) At the beginning of the North African
Campaign, General Lyman L. Lemnitzer accompanied General Mark Clark by submarine to North Africa. Upon arrival, about 60 officers
were awarded the Legion of Merit and were among the first awarded the medal. By some misunderstanding as to the rules governing
the awards, these 60 American Officers were awarded the degree of Officer. According to General Lemnitzer, President Roosevelt
was annoyed, however, he did not rescind the awards. Accordingly, these were the only American Officers awarded the Legion
of Merit with a degree.
e. Order of precedence and wear of decorations is contained in Army
Regulation 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority, supply, and issue of decorations is contained in Army Regulation