What Are the Military Medals of America?

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Some of the service medals and awards of the U.S. Military include, in descending order, the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldiers Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal. Awards are worn as medals or ribbons on the left side of American military uniforms.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government. The president of the United States awards the medal, on behalf of Congress, for members of the U.S. military who perform above the call of duty. There are three separate types of Medals of Honor; which one is given depends upon the recipient’s branch of service. The Army and the Air Force each have their own medals, and the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard all award the same medal. As of July 2014, more than 3,400 military members have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded for extraordinary heroism that is above and beyond other service awards, yet not at the level of the Medal of Honor. This army award is equal to the Navy Cross and Air Force Cross. The Navy Cross is for members of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.