Definitions

Soldier's Medal

Soldier's Medal

The Soldier's Medal is a military award of the United States Army. It was introduced by a law passed by U.S. Congress on July 2, 1926. The criteria for the medal are: "The Soldier's Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy." (Army Regulation 600-8-22).

Overview

Often, the medal is awarded to soldiers who risk their lives to save other people. The medal can be awarded in peacetime if the soldier's heroism is held to be equal to or greater than the level which would have justified an award of the Distinguished Flying Cross (which is only awarded for valor) if the act had taken place in combat. An enlisted recipient who is eligible for retirement pay will receive an increase of 10 percent in retirement pay, if the level of valor was equal to that which would earn the Distinguished Service Cross in direct combat.

The first medals were awarded on October 17, 1927 to John F. Burns and James P. Martin, for heroism during a fire and to James K. Wilson and Cleophas C. Burnett for saving people from drowning.

Notable recipients of the Soldier's Medal include Colin Powell, who was awarded the decoration during his second tour in Vietnam (1968-69) when he was injured in a helicopter crash and, despite his wounds, rescued two comrades from the burning wreckage. In 1968 three soldiers were awarded with this medal for their intervention in the My Lai Massacre (1968). They were Hugh Thompson, Jr., Lawrence Colburn and Glenn Andreotta; Andreotta was awarded the decoration posthumously. Captain Carmine Annunziata, U.S. Army was awarded the Soldier's Medal in 1991 for his heroism during the Persian Gulf War. In 2001, following the terrorist attack on The Pentagon, the US Army issued an unprecedented number of these awards (28), to personnel who risked their own lives to assist their fellow comrades in the wake of the attack.

The most recent recipient of the Soldier's Medal is SSG Jacqueline Hunt. SSG Hunt was presented the honor on August 22, 2008 for saving the life of a traffic accident victim near her hometown of Fort Worth, TX. On the night of March 17, 2005 Hunt witnessed a truck hit a man on Interstate 35. Hunt stopped her vehicle and ran to the victim. Hunt, who was half the size of the man, picked him up and carried him away from on coming traffic. Hunt used Army taught first aid skills to clear to man's airway and treat a traumatic head injury. Hunt stabilized the man and took charge directing an 18-wheeler to block the lane using his truck and reflective items for safety, keeping the victim safe from oncoming traffic. When interviewed SSG Hunt stated, "I really don't want to be called a hero because I don't want to take away from what our soldiers are doing downrange (Iraq and Afghanistan)...This is my job. This is every Soldier's job." SSG Jacqueline Hunt is the fifth woman in history to receive the honor and the first since 2001.

The Soldier's Medal is considered to be equivalent to the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the Airman's Medal, and the Coast Guard Medal.

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