Prisoner of War (POW) Medal
Prisoner of War Medal
Service: All Services
Criteria: Awarded to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces taken prisoner during any armed conflict dating from World War I
Devices: Bronze, Silver Star
The Prisoner of War Medal is awarded to any person who was taken prisoner of war and held captive after April 5, 1917. It was authorized by Public Law Number 99-145 in 1985 and may be awarded to any person who was taken prisoner or held captive while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States, while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force or while serving with friendly forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The recipient’s conduct while a prisoner must have been honorable.
The Prisoner of War Medal is worn after all unit awards (after personal decorations in the case of the Army) and before the various Armed Service Good Conduct Medals (before the Combat Readiness Medal in the case of the Air Force).
The Prisoner of War Medal was designed by the Institute of Heraldry. The medal is a circular bronze disc with an American eagle centered and completely surrounded by a ring of barbed wire and bayonet points. The reverse of the medal has a raised inscription, “AWARDED TO” with a space for the recipient’s name and, “FOR HONORABLE SERVICE WHILE A PRISONER OF WAR” set in three lines. Below this is the shield of the United States and the words, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” The ribbon is black with thin border stripes of white, blue, white and red. Additional awards are denoted by three-sixteenth inch bronze stars.