1. 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
2. Ribbon: The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and
consists of the following stripes: 1/8 inch ultramarine blue 67118; ¼ inch golden orange 67109; center 5/8 inch ultramarine
blue; ¼ inch golden orange; and 1/8 inch ultramarine blue.
3. 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 while participating 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 discernible 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 an armed enemy and
those directly involved in airborne command and control of combat operations. Involvement 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.
4. Components: The following are authorized components
of the Air Medal and the applicable specifications for each:
a. Decoration (regular size):
MIL-D-3943/23. NSN for decoration set is 8455-00-269-5747. For replacement medal NSN 8455-00-246-3837.
b. Decoration (miniature size): MIL-D-3943/23. NSN 8455-00-996-5002.
c. Ribbon: MIL-R-11589/7. NSN 8455-00-252-9963.
d. Lapel Button: MIL-L-11484/17. NSN 8455-00-257-4308.
5. Background: a. 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 of the United States, distinguishes himself
by meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight The Secretary of War, in his request, stated "The Distinguished
Flying Cross is available only for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight…It is desired
not to cheapen the Distinguished Flying Cross by awarding it for achievement not bordering on the heroic. It is, however,
important to reward personnel for meritorious service."
b. The Air Medal was authorized by President
Roosevelt by Executive Order 9158, dated 11 May 1942, and established the award for "any person who, while serving in any
capacity in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard of the United States subsequent to September 8, 1939, distinguishes,
or has distinguished, himself by meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight." Authorization was announced
in War Department Bulletin No. 25, dated 25 May 1942. Executive Order 9242-A, dated 11 September 1942 amended the previous
Executive Order to read "in any capacity in or with the Army".
c. In July 1942, the Office of The Quartermaster
General (OQMG), forwarded a letter to twenty-two artists offering an opportunity to submit designs for consideration. The
design selected was submitted by Walker Hancock and approved by the Secretary of War on 31 December 1942. The designer, Walker
Hancock, had been inducted into the Army and assigned to Camp Livingston, Louisiana. He was ordered to temporary duty effective
16 November 1942 to G1 War Department to work on the medal. The Chief of Staff approved the ribbon design prepared by OQMG
on 26 August 1942.
d. 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.
e. The Air Medal may be awarded for service
during peacetime; however, approval authority for peacetime awards is not delegated to field commanders.
f. Order of precedence and wear of decorations
is contained in Army Regulation (AR) 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority, supply, and issue of decorations is contained
in AR 600-8-22.22.