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What are the Top 10 Military Medals? Ranked & Explained

 what are the top 10 military medals dsc

If you’re trying to figure out what are the top 10 military medals then look no further. We’ve assembled a straight-forward list that will tell you what are the top 10 military medals.

1. Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that may be awarded by the U.S. government. It is presented by the president of the United States, in the name of Congress, and is conferred only upon members of the U.S. armed forces who distinguish themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. The recipient must have been engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

There are three distinct versions (one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard).

2. Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, and Air Force Cross
Coming in at number two on our list of “what are the top 10 military medals” is the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). It is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. Army (and previously, the Army Air Forces). It is awarded for extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not merit award of the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is equivalent to the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps, and Coast Guard when operating under the authority of the Department of the Navy) and the Air Force Cross (Air Force).

Navy Cross
The Navy Cross is the second highest military decoration that may be awarded to a member of the United States Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, (and to members of the Coast Guard when operating under the authority of the Department of the Navy). It is awarded for extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

Actions that merit the Navy Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not merit award of the Medal of Honor. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross (Air Force).

Air Force Cross
The Air Force Cross is the second highest military decoration that may be awarded to a member of the United States Air Force. It is awarded for extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

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Actions that merit the Air Force Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not merit award of the Medal of Honor. The Air Force Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps, and Coast Guard when operating under the authority of the Department of the Navy).

3. Silver Star
Ranked as number three in our list of “what are the top 10 military medals” is the Silver Star. It is the third-highest military combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. armed forces. It is awarded for gallantry in action while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

Actions that merit the Silver Star must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not merit award of the meet Medal of Honor or a Service Cross (Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, or the Air Force Cross).

4. Defense Distinguished Service Medal
The number four award on our list of “what are the top 10 military medals” is the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. It is presented to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces, while serving with the Department of Defense, who distinguishes themselves with exceptional performance of duty contributing to national security or defense of the United States. Created in 1970, the medal is typically awarded to senior officers such as the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chief and vice chiefs of the military services and other personnel whose duties bring them in direct and frequent contact with the Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary of Defense or other senior government officials.

5. Legion of Merit
Number five on USAMM’s “what are the top 10 military medals” list is the Legion of Merit. The first U.S. decoration created specifically for citizens of other nations, was established in 1942.

It is conferred on officers and enlisted members of the armed forces of the United States and on nationals of other countries who have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services. The Legion of Merit may be awarded for combat or noncombat services.

6. Distinguished Flying Cross
We are about half way through our “what are the top 10 military medals list.” The Distinguished Flying Cross is next. It was authorized in 1926 and was awarded first to Capt. Charles A. Lindbergh, of the U.S. Army Corps Reserve, for his solo flight of 3,600 miles across the Atlantic in 1927.

This medal is awarded to any officer or enlisted person of the armed forces of the United States for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. Both heroism and achievement must be entirely distinctive, involving operations that are not routine.

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7. Soldier’s Medal
The Soldier’s Medal was established in 1926.  This medal is number seven on USAMM’s “what are the top 10 military medals” list. The Soldier’s Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, including reserve component Soldiers not serving in a duty status at the time of the heroic act, distinguished themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy.

8. Navy and Marine Corps Medal
The number eight medal on the “what are the top 10 military medals” list is the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. It is the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism by the Navy to members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The medal was established in 1942. The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the equivalent of the Army's Soldier's Medal, Air and Space Forces' Airman's Medal, and the Coast Guard Medal.

9. Airman’s Medal
This decoration was established in 1960 and it is awarded to any member of the United States Air Force who has distinguished themselves by a heroic act, usually at the voluntary risk of his or her life but not involving actual combat. The saving of a life or the success of the voluntary heroic act is not essential.

10. Bronze Star
The Bronze Star Medal is an award presented to U.S. armed forces personnel for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service. Originally created in February 1944, this award is only presented for service in combat conditions. Meaning, it can be presented for valor, but also for meritorious service during a war.

Now that you’ve read this, you should be able to answer the question what are the top 10 military medals? Interested in learning more? Check out the Military Ribbons & Medals Order of Precedence.

2 comments

If the BS was not awarded with a V device, that is for Valor, then it was awarded for meritorious service. As such, if you served at least 6 months you were awarded a BS (Maybe a second for 12 months, although I never herd of it, but anything is possible.) It it was awarded for Valor (V device attached to ribbon) a recommendation should have been filed. I Corps 4th Inf. 67-68

Bill Vosseler,

I received Two Bronze Stars in my Year in South Vietnam while serving with the 4th Infantry Division in the Central Highlands in the Pleiku , 2 Corp Area , in 1969 – 1970.
At each presentation , including my last day, no reason was given or stated Verbally or in documents.

A very Senior Officer said I get the Reasons presented to me later when it was no longer Classified.

Later another more Senior Officer sent me His whiten

thanks for my Outstanding Vietnam Actions!

Will I Ever Know?

Thank you

Joe F Lassiter, jr
1191

Joe Lassiter,

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