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 of Honor
|heroism and intrepidity .
above and beyond the call of duty of
|extraordinary heroism in
military operations against an armed opponent
meritorious a task with great
|Valor in combat
|Achievement earned for
carrying out a task
|Courage exceptional performance during an air operation
|Courage shown in an enemy conflict
|Heroic or meritorious
achievement or service against the enemy
(not during an air operation)
|Meritorious achievement during
an air operation
|Was awarded for injuries sustained by a soldier during an action against the enemy or when a soldier was killed.
Edward & James Norton
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.