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Navy Medals

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What are Navy Medals?

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Navy Medals are a type of military medals created by and for the United States Armed Forces. They are awarded for great acts of service within the US Navy.

  Occasionally, other branches of the military can receive Navy Medals or Navy challenge coins when serving under the authority of the Navy, as can members of military forces in other countries allied with the United States, but only in very special circumstances.

Active service members and veterans can both receive top Navy Medals for exceptional heroism, bravery, and courage. Several Navy honors are recognized by medals.

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History of Navy Medals You May Want to Know

The First Proposal of Navy Medals

1861, the first proposal for a battlefield decoration of valor was submitted. However, the general-in-chief of the army, Winfield Scott, did not want medals to be awarded. When Scott retired in October, the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, decided he liked the idea of a decoration to recognize and honor distinguished service in the Navy, and the proposal was reconsidered.

On December 21 of 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed a proposal into law. The Navy Medal of Valor was created, with the desire to encourage efficiency of the Navy. The Medal of Valor was established purposely for the Navy, so that petty officers, seaman, landsman, or even marines that distinguished themselves from others through exceptional heroism during the war could be acknowledged. The Philadelphia Mint designed the original medal.

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The Prevalence of Navy Medals

The Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Navy Cross Medal were both created during World War One. The Navy created the medals on the 4th of February in 1919 in order to recognize heroic acts that did not fully meet requirements for the Medal of Honor. The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was first presented on the 13th of March 1919.

The first actual recipient of the Navy Cross is unknown since a long list was given at the end of the World War I. Originally, The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was awarded above the Navy Cross, but in 1942, congress reversed the placement, and it is now awarded below the Navy Cross. This is because the Navy Cross was originally presented for both combat heroism and for other distinguished service but is now a combat-only decoration.

What are the Types of Navy Medals?

Navy Distinguished Service Medal

Any member of the United States Navy in a position of responsibility can earn this medal by displaying extraordinary service to the government. It is most often awarded to Commanding Officers at sea or in the field, but any individual who meets the necessary requirements may be given this medal. The Navy medals and Marine Corps medals are awarded for the Navy and Marine Corps units since the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard all have equivalent medals.

The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is a bronze medal that shows a bald eagle spreading its wings at the center of the medal. The eagle is holding an olive branch and arrows. The inscription “United States of America Navy” is written in gold on a blue ring around the eagle.

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Navy Honor Medal

The Medal of Honor is the highest and most prestigious personal decoration that can be awarded in the US Military. It is given to service members who set themselves apart through acts of heroism. The President of the United States awards it in the name of the US Congress. So it is sometimes referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Army, Navy, and Air Force each have their own versions of the custom medals, while the Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive the Navy Medal of Honor.

The Navy version of the Medal of Honor was created in 1861 and named the Medal of Valor. It is a five-pointed bronze star hanging from the bottom of an anchor. It is tipped with trefoils, inside which is a crown of laurel of oak.

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Navy Cross Medal

The Navy Cross is currently the second-highest decoration in the United States Navy that is awarded for valor in combat. The US Navy Medals are awarded to members of the US Navy and sometimes to US Marine Corps or the US Coast Guard. Is given to a serviceman or woman who displays outstanding heroism.

This personalized medal is presented by the Secretary of the Navy and may be awarded to service members of other armed forces, and even to foreign military personnel that serves with the US Naval Forces. The Army medals, Air Force medals and Coast Guard medals all have their own version of the medal.

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