What medals does the U.S. Army award?


Quick Answer

About.com hosts a comprehensive list of medals awarded by the U.S. Army as of 2015, which include the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart. More than 80 individual types of medals exist, many for specific combat theatres, such as the Iraq Campaign Medal.

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Full Answer

The U.S. Army's Medal of Honor is the highest military honor awarded by the Armed Forces. It was created by General George Washington in the year 1792 as the Badge of Military Merit. It is exclusively awarded to individuals who risked their lives while serving the U.S. Army against a belligerent force in an act of remarkable heroism.

The Distinguished Service Cross is a counterpart to the Medal of Honor; the U.S. Army awards this honor to individuals who display extraordinary heroism but who do not meet the strict requirements of the Medal of Honor. It was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918.

The U.S. Army awards the Purple Heart to any U.S. soldier who has been wounded or killed in action after 1917. In 1973, the criteria for receiving a Purple Heart were adjusted to include international terrorist attacks.

The Iraq Campaign Medal recognizes soldiers and armed service members who served in or near the Iraqi theater of operations after 2003. Separate service stars establish the time frame of service, whether during the liberation of Iraq or during its transition to self-governance.

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