Bronze Star medals are awarded for heroic acts or achievements to deserving members of the United States Army. Army members could earn the medal while on service in Vietnam, as well as in other war zones.
The medal was officially introduced on Feb. 4, 1944. The idea came from Colonel Russell P. Reeder in 1943. He thought it would be good for the morale of the army to introduce a means of praising soldiers for heroic acts. It was supposed to be similar to the Air Medal for ground troops, hence he proposed to call it the Ground Medal. At first, the new medal got inducted in the U.S. Navy to be awarded to troops and staff; however, the establishment did not take off for unknown reasons. General George C. Marshall picked up the idea and sent a message about it to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took the idea over straight away.
The medal can be awarded to anyone, who has distinguished himself for heroic acts while taking part in military operations against an armed enemy serving for the U.S. Army after the Dec. 6, 1941. Anyone who performed heroic acts that don't qualify for the Silver Star Medal can request the award.
The Bronze Star was designed by Rudolf Freund, an employee for Bailey, Banks and Biddle who also designed the Silver Star. The medal is 1.5 inch in diameter and contains a small bronze star in the center measuring 3/16 inch in diameter. On the backside, there is an inscription that says "Heroic or Meritious Achievement."