During WWII, the Bronze Star was a medal awarded specifically to ground troops engaged between Dec. 6, 1941, and Sept. 2, 1945, in recognition of heroic or meritorious achievement on the field of battle. The medal came into being after a recommendation made by General George C. Marshall to President Roosevelt in which Marshall argued that such a medal would boost morale amongst the ranks of long-suffering infantrymen.
The original inspiration for the Bronze Star can be found in the Air Medal, an award created in 1942 as a recognition of meritorious service during flight. The Bronze Star was envisioned as the infantryman's equivalent of the Air Medal, so it is often referred to as the Ground Medal. President Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star's creation in February 1944 and made it instantly retroactive to the beginning of the war so that it might be awarded to ground soldiers for past gallantry. In 1947, the Bronze Star was again retroactively awarded to anyone who had been previously been given the Combat Infantryman Badge of Combat Medical Badge of WWII.
The Bronze Star is supported by red ribbon that is accented with blue and white stripes. The medal itself is an actual bronze star that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter with a smaller superimposed star in the center. The reverse side of the medal is inscribed with the words "heroic or meritorious achievement."