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The Air Medal is a bronze medallion about 1 5/8 inches across in the shape of a compass rose and bearing an image of an eagle in flight carrying a pair of lightning bolts. The ribbon is striped with vertical bands of aquamarine and orange.

Criteria for Award

According to PERSCOM, the Air Medal is "awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the armed forces of the United States, shall have distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight." The medal is intended for those whose actions do not merit the Distinguished Flying Cross (intended for those whose actions have gone above and beyond the call of duty), but are worthy of accolade nonetheless.

History and Notable RecipientsThe Air Medal was authorized by Franklin D. Roosevelt in May of 1942. The medal was designed by Walker Hancock, whose design was picked above those of twenty-one other artists contacted by the OQMG.

Notable recipients of the Air Medal:
  • The first recipient of the Air Medal is, for whatever reason, not recorded.
  • The first female recipient of the Air Medal was Lt. Elsie S. Lott, Army Nurse Corps, in 1943 for her service as an air evac nurse en route from India to the U.S.
  • In 1997, Capt. Greg Harbin was awarded an Air Medal for his succesful landing of a UAV whose engine had failed.

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