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Awards and decorations of the United States Air Force


Awards and decorations of the United States Air Force

Awards and decorations of the United States Air Force are military decorations which are issued by the Department of the Air Force to Air Force service members and members of other military branches serving under Air Force commands. Of all five branches of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Air Force currently maintains the highest number of active awards and decorations, including many without equivalent in any other service.

United States Air Force awards were first created in 1947. At that time, Air Force members were eligible to receive most U.S. Army decorations and Air Force veterans of World War II were entitled to continue displaying World War II campaign medals.

In 1962, following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Air Force began a concentrated effort to create its own array of awards and Air Force members could no longer receive decorations of the United States Army as a matter of course. By the end of the Vietnam War, most of the modern day Air Force decorations had been established and Air Force members were also entitled to receive and wear all inter-service awards and decorations (see also the interservice Air Medal-which ranks above Aerial Achievement Medal).

By the start of the 21st century, the Air Force had created several new ribbons as well as an Air Force specific campaign medal known as the Air and Space Campaign Medal.

In February 2006, the United States Air Force ceased issuing new awards of the Good Conduct Medal, however, the medal was reinstated in February 2009. The AFGCM has also been back-awarded to those who were in service during the three year break in new awards. By retro-actively awarding those who deserved the medal, it is as if the medal had never been taken away.[1]

Air Force members are also eligible to receive approved foreign awards and approved international decorations. The currently issued active Air Force decorations are as follows:[2]


  • Military awards 1
    • Air Force Decorations 1.1
    • Air Force service medals 1.2
    • Air Force Good Conduct Medals 1.3
    • Air Force unit awards 1.4
    • Air Force service ribbons 1.5
    • Air Force Award Badges 1.6
  • Civilian awards 2
  • Public service awards 3
  • Special awards and trophies 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • External links 7

Military awards

Air Force Decorations

Air Force Cross Air Force Distinguished Service Medal Airman's Medal Aerial Achievement Medal Air Force Commendation Medal Air Force Achievement Medal

Air Force service medals

Air Force Combat Action Medal Combat Readiness Medal Air and Space Campaign Medal Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal

Air Force Good Conduct Medals

Air Force Good Conduct Medal Air Reserve Forces
Meritorious Service Medal

Air Force unit awards

Presidential Unit Citation Gallant Unit Citation Air Force Meritorious Unit Award Outstanding Unit Award Organizational Excellence Award

Air Force service ribbons

Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon Air Force Recognition Ribbon Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon Air Force Overseas Long Tour Service Ribbon
Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon Air Force Longevity Service Award Military Training Instructor Ribbon Air Force Recruiter Ribbon
USAF NCO PME Graduate Ribbon USAF Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon Air Force Training Ribbon

Air Force Award Badges

U.S. Air Force Marksmanship Competition Awards/Badges U.S. Air Force Outstanding Airman Badge

Civilian awards

  • Air Force Valor Award - similar to the Airman's Medal. Gold-colored medal design bearing the Air Force thunderbolt on an equilateral triangle surmounted by the Air Force eagle perched on a scroll inscribed "Valor" within an olive wreath. Ribbon is light blue with four yellow stripes, two dark blue stripes, and one red stripe in the center.
  • Air Force Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award - similar to the military Legion of Merit. Bronze medal bearing the Air Force coat of arms with a wreath of laurel leaves. Ribbon is white trimmed in maroon with three maroon stripes in the center.
  • Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service Award - similar to the military Meritorious Service Medal. Sterling silver medal and lapel emblem bearing the Air Force coat of arms with a wreath of laurel leaves. Emblem with ruby indicates receipt of more than one Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
  • Air Force Command Award for Valor - similar to the military Meritorious Service Medal when awarded for heroism. Sterling silver medal of the same design as the Air Force Valor Award. Ribbon is light-blue silk with four yellow stripes and one red stripe in the center.

Public service awards

  • Air Force Scroll of Appreciation (or Air Force Scroll of Honor) - For meritorious achievement or service that are completely voluntary and performed as a public service or patriotic in nature.
  • Air Force Exceptional Service Award - A gold-colored medal bearing the Air Force coat of arms with a wreath of laurel leaves. Ribbon is dark-blue silk with three dotted golden-orange lines in the center.

Special awards and trophies

  • USAF First Sergeant of the Year Award
  • General and Mrs. Jerome F. O'Malley Award (wing commander and spouse team)[3]
  • Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year Award
  • Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award
  • Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy (safety)[4]
  • Cheney Award (an act of valor, extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest, performed in connection with aircraft)
  • Mackay Trophy (most meritorious flight of the year)
  • General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy
  • General Wilbur L. Creech Maintenance Excellence Award
  • Dr. James G. Roche Sustainment Excellence Award
  • General Lew Allen, Jr. Trophy (officer and senior NCO in aircraft maintenance or munitions directly involved with setting up aircraft sorties with nuclear weapons)
  • Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award
  • 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year (sponsored by Air Force Association)
  • Aviator Valor Award (sponsored by American Legion Aviators' Post No. 743)

See also

Awards and decorations of the United States military


  1. ^ Villagran, Paul (12 February 2009). "Air Force Good Conduct Medal reinstated". Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Airmen to see combat medal in April". Archived from the original on February 17, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  3. ^ Weckerlein, Staff Sgt. Julie (16 November 2006). "General, spouse receive O'Malley award". Air Force News Service. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Buzanowski, Staff Sgt. J.G. (6 June 2007). "F-16 pilot receives Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy". Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 

External links

  • AFI36-2903 Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel
  • AFI36-2805, Special Awards and Trophies
  • AFI36-2818, The USAF Maintenance Awards Program
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