1. Description: On a bronze medal, 1 3/8 inches in diameter, an eagle with
wings opened surrounded by a circle of barbed wire and bayonet points. The reverse has the inscription "AWARDED TO" around
the top and "FOR HONORABLE SERVICE WHILE A PRISONER OF WAR" across the center in three lines with a space between the two
inscriptions for engraving the name of the recipient. The shield of the Coat of Arms of the United States is centered on the
lower part of the reverse side with the inscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" around the bottom of the medal.
2. Ribbon: The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and
consists of the following stripes: 1/16 inch Old Glory Red 67156; 3/32 inch White 67101; 1/16 inch Old Glory Blue 67178; 1/8
inch White; center 11/16 inch Black 67138; 1/8 inch White; 1/16 inch Old Glory Blue; 3/32 inch White; and 1/16 inch Old Glory
3. Criteria: a. The Prisoner of War Medal is issued
only to those U.S. military personnel who were taken prisoner and held captive after 5 April 1917;
(1) While engaged in an action against an
enemy of the United States;
(2) While engaged in military operations involving
conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
(3) While serving with friendly forces engaged
in an armed conflict against an opposing force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
b. Civilians who have been credited with military service which included
the period of captivity are also eligible for the medal.
c. Hostages of terrorists and persons detained by governments with
which the United States is not engaged actively in armed conflict are not eligible for the medal.
4. Components: The following are components of the Prisoner
of War Medal:
a. Medal (regular size): MIL-M-3946/53. NSN 8455-01-251-2096 for set
which includes regular size medal and ribbon bar.
b. Medal (miniature size): MIL-DTL-3943/241. Available commercially.
c. Ribbon: MIL-DTL-11589/319. Available commercially.
d. Lapel Button: MIL-DTL-11484/152. Available commercially.
5. Background: a. Public Law 99-145, Department of Defense
Authorization Act, dated 8 November 1985, amended Chapter 57 of Title 10, USC, 1128, to require under certain circumstances
the issuance of a Prisoner of War Medal to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United
States, was taken prisoner and held captive after 5 April 1917.
b. As a result of the above law, DOD solicited designs from all sources,
and on 29 November 1985, designated The Institute of Heraldry (TIOH) as the Executive Agency for designing and procuring the
medal. Over 300 designs were received and referred to a committee, comprised of representatives of the Armed Services, for
advising the Secretary of Defense on a selection.
c. The design selected was created by Mr. Jay C. Morris of The Institute
of Heraldry. The symbolism of the design is as follows: The eagle, a symbol of the United States and the American spirit,
though surrounded by barbed wire and bayonet points, stands with pride and dignity, continually on the alert for the opportunity
to seize hold of beloved freedom, thus symbolizing the hope that upholds the spirit of the prisoner of war. The ribbon colors
red, white, and blue are symbolic of our National colors while determination to survive in or to escape from a hostile environment.
d. Order of precedence and wear policy for medals awarded to Army
personnel is contained in AR 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority and supply of medals is contained in AR 600-8-22.