Awards and medals

The US military could award various medals and recognitions to serving military during their service. Some were given to complete units or army units, while others were awarded to individual soldiers. Medals were also awarded posthumously.

This is an overview (high to low) of the medals that individual soldiers could earn for showing courage in battle or a particular action.

Medal for Granted for Image Soldiers
Medal of Honor courage heroism and intrepidity
above and beyond the call of duty of
a soldier

Robert Cole
Service Cross
courage extraordinary heroism in
military operations against an armed opponent

Maurice Rose
Service Medal
Performance Outstanding Achievement
meritorious a task with great

Maurice Rose
courage Valor in combat
Maurice Rose
of Merit
Performance Achievement earned for
behavior during
carrying out a task

Maurice Rose
Flying Cross
courage Courage exceptional performance during an air operation -
Soldier's Medal courage Courage shown in an enemy conflict -
star medal
courage &
Heroic or meritorious
achievement or service against the enemy
(not during an air operation)

George Brouillette

Maurice Rose
Robert Watts
performance Meritorious achievement during
an air operation

Wilma Vinsant
courage Was awarded for injuries sustained by a soldier during an action against the enemy or when a soldier was killed.
Robert Cole

Richard Wells

Edward & James Norton

George Brouillette

Arthur Whitbeck

Leo Lichten

Wilma Vinsant

Maurice Rose
Robert Watts

De Air Medal was the most awarded medal in the US Air Force and the Purple Heart in the Army. Stephen Ambrose – commented on this in "Purple Hearts there were enough, but that was not a distinction that gave you function: infantry." Besides the Air Medal and Purple Heart, the US army issued around 400,000 medals in the Second World War. Of the highest award - the Medal of Honor – was 239 issued.

Outside the medals that were awarded for performance or courage, soldiers also received medals from the campaigns where they fought in:

European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

many soldiers also received medals after the war from governments of countries that they had helped liberate, or the Government of the state of the soldier.