U.S. Military Medals Created During WWII

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The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded in the United States. It represents the pinnacle of bravery, valor, and selflessness displayed by those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. With a rich history spanning over 150 years, the Medal of Honor holds a special place in the hearts of Americans and serves as a testament to the extraordinary acts of heroism performed by our nation’s finest. In this blog post, we will explore the captivating history of the Medal of Honor and its enduring significance.

The Medal of Honor holds a cherished place in American history, embodying the highest ideals of bravery, valor, and sacrifice. From its origins in the Civil War to its continued recognition in modern conflicts, the Medal of Honor represents the courage and selflessness exhibited by our nation’s finest. It serves as a powerful reminder of the extraordinary acts of heroism that shape our nation and inspire us to strive for excellence and make a difference in our communities. Let us honor and remember the brave individuals who have received this prestigious award and express our deepest gratitude for their indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication to preserving our freedom and way of life.

Origins in the Civil War

The Medal of Honor finds its roots in the Civil War, a tumultuous period in American history. Established by Congress on July 12, 1862, the Medal of Honor was initially awarded for acts of bravery and gallantry exhibited by members of the Union Army during the conflict. Its purpose was to recognize and honor the selfless actions of soldiers who risked their lives to save others and exemplify exceptional courage.

Evolution and Expansion

Over the years, the criteria for awarding the Medal of Honor expanded to include acts of valor in subsequent conflicts. From the Indian Wars and the Spanish-American War to World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the ongoing Global War on Terrorism, the Medal of Honor has been presented to deserving individuals who demonstrated extraordinary bravery in the face of adversity.

Medal of Honor Recipients

The recipients of the Medal of Honor represent a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life. They come from various branches of the military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. Regardless of their background, these exceptional men and women share a common bond—a willingness to go above and beyond, risking their own lives to protect their fellow service members and fulfill their duty to their country.

Symbolic Meaning

The Medal of Honor symbolizes more than just individual acts of heroism. It represents the collective bravery and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces. It is a reminder of the extraordinary courage displayed in the face of extreme danger and the unwavering commitment to defending freedom and upholding the values that define our nation.

Enduring Legacy

The legacy of the Medal of Honor extends far beyond the individual recipients. It serves as a source of inspiration for current and future generations, instilling a sense of duty, honor, and selflessness. The stories of Medal of Honor recipients inspire us to embrace the values of courage, integrity, and sacrifice in our own lives and to recognize the importance of service to our country and our fellow citizens.

U.S. Military Medals Created During WWII

What medals were earned in WW2

World War II was a global conflict that witnessed the immense bravery and sacrifice of millions of men and women. Throughout the war, various military decorations and medals were awarded to recognize and honor the exceptional acts of valor and service displayed by individuals.

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration in the United States, was awarded to numerous individuals during World War II. Recipients of this prestigious medal demonstrated extraordinary bravery and selflessness in the face of grave danger. Their acts of valor ranged from single-handedly holding off enemy forces to saving the lives of fellow service members at great personal risk.

Distinguished Service Cross

The Distinguished Service Cross is the second-highest military decoration awarded to members of the U.S. Army. It recognizes extraordinary heroism in combat situations. During World War II, many soldiers received this prestigious award for acts of valor, such as leading successful assaults on enemy positions, neutralizing enemy strongholds, or rescuing fellow soldiers under fire.

Navy Cross

The Navy Cross is the second-highest military decoration awarded to members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. It honors extraordinary heroism in combat, often involving exceptional leadership and personal risk. Numerous sailors and Marines received the Navy Cross during World War II for actions such as engaging enemy forces, defending strategic positions, or saving comrades from imminent danger.

Silver Star

The Silver Star is awarded for gallantry in action, recognizing extraordinary valor displayed by members of the U.S. armed forces. Many soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines earned this medal during World War II for acts of heroism, including leading successful missions, protecting their units under heavy fire, or risking their lives to save their comrades.

Bronze Star

The Bronze Star is awarded for acts of heroism or meritorious service in a combat zone. It recognizes exceptional dedication and courage exhibited by members of the U.S. military. During World War II, countless soldiers received the Bronze Star for various actions, such as providing critical medical care, leading successful operations, or going above and beyond the call of duty to support their fellow service members.

Medal of Honor Recipients of World War II

World War II witnessed countless acts of extraordinary bravery and selflessness by individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty. These courageous men displayed unwavering valor in the face of adversity, earning them the highest military decoration in the United States—the Medal of Honor.

Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy, one of the most renowned Medal of Honor recipients in World War II, served as a U.S. Army soldier. He earned his Medal of Honor for his actions during a fierce battle in France. Despite being heavily outnumbered and wounded, Murphy single-handedly held off a German attack, killing or wounding 50 enemy soldiers. His unwavering courage and marksmanship saved his unit from being overrun.

Desmond Doss

Desmond Doss, a U.S. Army medic, became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss displayed exceptional bravery and dedication to his fellow soldiers. Despite facing intense enemy fire, he single-handedly rescued 75 wounded soldiers, lowering them to safety from the steep cliffs of Hacksaw Ridge. His unwavering commitment to saving lives without carrying a weapon is a testament to his courage and selflessness.

John Basilone

John Basilone, a U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, received the Medal of Honor for his valor during the Battle of Guadalcanal. Basilone led his unit in defending a vital position against overwhelming Japanese forces. His leadership and heroism in the face of intense enemy fire inspired his fellow Marines and contributed to the successful defense of the position. Basilone later lost his life in action on Iwo Jima, but his legacy as a brave and selfless warrior endures.

Doris Miller

Doris Miller, a U.S. Navy mess attendant, demonstrated extraordinary heroism during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Despite lacking formal training, Miller manned an anti-aircraft machine gun and engaged enemy aircraft, inflicting significant damage. His actions earned him the Navy Cross, becoming the first African American to receive such recognition. Miller’s bravery and determination shattered racial barriers and inspired others.

Tibor Rubin

Tibor Rubin, a Hungarian-born U.S. Army soldier, displayed exceptional courage and resilience during his time as a prisoner of war in a Chinese prison camp. Despite enduring harsh conditions, Rubin selflessly risked his life to provide medical aid and rationed food to his fellow prisoners. His acts of kindness and self-sacrifice saved numerous lives. Rubin’s Medal of Honor was awarded decades later, acknowledging his extraordinary valor and sacrifice.

National Defense Service Medal: Details and Eligibility

The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) is a prestigious military decoration that recognizes the dedicated service of members of the United States Armed Forces during times of national conflict. The National Defense Service Medal was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 to recognize the dedication and commitment of service members during periods of national defense. It serves as a token of appreciation for the individuals who have contributed to safeguarding the nation’s security during times of conflict or potential threat.

To be eligible for the National Defense Service Medal, service members must have served honorably during a designated period of national defense. The specific eligibility criteria may vary depending on the conflict or time frame, but generally include:

  • Active duty service in the U.S. military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard.

  • Service during a period of national emergency or armed conflict, as designated by the Department of Defense.

  • The individual must have served for a specified duration, typically ranging from a minimum of 30 days to an entire campaign period.

It is important to note that the eligibility criteria can vary, and it is recommended to consult official military sources or personnel for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding specific time frames and conflicts.

The National Defense Service Medal features a distinctive design that embodies the spirit of service and defense. The medal itself is a bronze disc bearing the image of a bald eagle with outspread wings, clutching an olive branch and arrows. The eagle is encircled by a laurel wreath, symbolizing honor and achievement. The reverse side of the medal displays a shield with a vertical sword, representing readiness and preparedness.The ribbon of the National Defense Service Medal consists of alternating stripes of blue, white, and red. The blue symbolizes loyalty and fidelity, while the white represents integrity and peace. The red signifies courage and sacrifice.

Service members who have served during multiple conflicts may be eligible for multiple National Defense Service Medals, each corresponding to a different period of national defense. This allows individuals to be recognized for their contributions during distinct phases of their military service.

The National Defense Service Medal serves as a lasting tribute to the dedicated men and women who have selflessly served their country during times of national defense. It recognizes the sacrifices made by service members and honors their commitment to protecting the nation’s security and upholding its values.

The National Defense Service Medal stands as a symbol of honor and recognition for the service members who have played a vital role in protecting and defending our nation during times of conflict. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made and the unwavering dedication exhibited by those who have served in the U.S. military. As we honor and appreciate the recipients of the National Defense Service Medal, let us also express our gratitude to all service members who have selflessly answered the call of duty to safeguard our freedoms and preserve the security of our nation.


More WW2 Military Medals

World War II was a defining period in history, marked by the heroism and sacrifice of millions of servicemen and women who fought to defend freedom and democracy. In addition to the well-known medals such as the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, and Navy Cross, there were several other distinguished military medals awarded to recognize the valor and dedication displayed by those who served during this global conflict.

  • Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is one of the oldest and most recognizable military decorations in the United States. It is awarded to service members who were wounded or killed in action during combat. During World War II, countless soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the line of duty. The medal serves as a symbol of courage and a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who suffered while defending their country.

  • Prisoner of War Medal

The Prisoner of War Medal is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were taken captive and held as prisoners of war. It recognizes the immense physical and emotional hardship endured by those who were imprisoned by enemy forces. Many servicemen and women who endured the harsh conditions of POW camps during WW2 were awarded this medal as a testament to their resilience and endurance.

  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal was awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who served in the Pacific Theater during WW2. It recognizes service in specific geographic areas and major military campaigns throughout the region. The medal’s ribbon features symbols representing the islands and regions where American forces engaged in combat against Japanese forces.

  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal

The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal was awarded to those who served in the European and North African theaters during WW2. It honors the dedication and bravery of service members who participated in major campaigns, such as the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation.

  • World War II Victory Medal

The World War II Victory Medal was awarded to all military personnel who served on active duty during WW2. It commemorates the victory over Axis forces and the triumph of freedom and democracy. The medal’s design features an eagle perched on a broken sword, symbolizing the defeat of the enemy.