Instituted: 1945 (retroactive to 1941)
Criteria: Heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service
Devices: Bronze letter “V” (for valor), Bronze, Silver Oak Leaf Cluster
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.
In 1947, the rules were changed allowing the ARCOM 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.