Army Commendation Mini Medal
Instituted: 1945 (retroactive to 1941)
Criteria: Heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service
Devices: Bronze letter “V” (for valor), Bronze, Silver Oak Leaf Cluster
Notes: Originally a ribbon-only award then designated “Army
Commendation Ribbon with Metal Pendant”. Redesignated: “Army
Commendation Medal” in 1960
Army Commendation Medal - Overview
Authorized on December 18, 1945 as a commendation ribbon and awarded
to members of the Army for heroism, meritorious achievement or
meritorious service after December 6, 1941. It was meant for award
where the Bronze Star Medal was not appropriate, i.e., outside of operational areas.
The Army Commendation Medal, commonly called the ARCOM, is
unique as it is the first and only Army award that started as a
ribbon-only award and then became a medal. After World War II, it
became the only award created for the express purpose of peacetime and
wartime meritorious service as well as the only award designed
expressly for presentation to junior officers and enlisted personnel.
In short, the ARCOM became the peacetime version of the Bronze Star
Medal to recognize outstanding performance and boost morale. Subsequent
to World War II, retroactive awards of the Commendation Ribbon were
authorized for any individual who had received a Letter of Commendation
from a Major General or higher before January 1, 1946.
Army Commendation Medal Change
In 1947, the rules were changed allowing the Army Commendation Medal
to be awarded in connection with military operations for which the
level of service did not meet the requirements for the Bronze Star or
Air Medal. In 1949 the change from a ribbon-only award to a pendant was
approved. Anyone who received the ribbon could apply for the new
medal. The Army redesignated the Commendation Ribbon With Metal Pendant
as the Army Commendation Medal in 1960. In 1962, it
was authorized for award to a member of the Armed Forces of a friendly
nation for the same level of achievement or service which was mutually
beneficial to that nation and the United States. The next big change
occurred on February 29, 1964 with the approval of the “V” device to
denote combat heroism of a degree less than that required for the
Bronze Star Medal. Additionally, the ARCOM continued to be awarded for
acts of courage not qualifying for the Soldier’s Medal.
Army Commendation Medal Design
The medal, a bronze hexagon, depicts the American bald eagle with
spread wings on the face. The eagle has the U.S. shield on its breast
and is grasping three crossed arrows in its talons. On the reverse of
the medal are inscriptions “FOR MILITARY” and “MERIT” with a plaque for
engraving the recipient’s name between the two inscriptions. A spray
of laurel, representing achievement is at the bottom. The ribbon is a
field of myrtle green with five white stripes in the center and white
edges. The Army Commendation Medal was designed and sculpted by Thomas
Hudson Jones of the Institute of Heraldry.
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