Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was authorized by Congress in 1960. Congress recognized different types and degrees of heroism and meritorious service and included provisions for award criteria. The Air Force version is one of the newer of the four service branch Distinguished Service Medals, and the fifth and newest version recognizes US Department of Defense personnel contributions. Until 1960, Air Force personnel were awarded the Army version of the Distinguished Service Medal. These US military medals were to be awarded by the President to persons who distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility in time of war or in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States. It takes more than exceptional performance of normal duty to justify the presentation of one of these unique medals of America, and relatively few potential candidates ever earn one.
The term "duty of a great responsibility" applies to a narrower range of positions when the US is not at war, than in time of war, and requires evidence of conspicuously significant achievement. However, justification for these Air Force ribbons and medals may accrue by virtue of exceptionally meritorious service in a succession of high positions of great importance. Under exceptional circumstances, and with the express approval of the President, these military medals are occasionally awarded for wartime services to persons who are not members of the US Armed Forces.
Air Force Distinguished Service Medals are normally only bestowed to senior to officers who hold at least the rank of Major General. However, as is customary for most Air Force medals, the requirements for the Distinguished Service Medal are interpreted more liberally when awarded upon retirement. As a result, it is the typical decoration for a retiring Brigadier General, and in recent years it has also been awarded to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force upon retirement.
These military medals are worn below the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Defense Department versions of the Distinguished Service Cross and above the Silver Stars awarded by each branch of service, in the general order of precedence that has been established for the proper display of all military ribbons and medals. Additional awards of these military medals are denoted by Oak Leaf Clusters. These military awards are generally available as traditional full size military medals and mini medals, military ribbons and lapel pins. They are available as traditional full size military medals or mini-medals, and slide-on military ribbons; or the newer thin mini-medals, and ultra thin military ribbons that have become so very popular among up and coming military personnel who know how important it is to their career advancement to always maximize the neatness and smartness of their uniform appearance.