Navy / Marine Distinguished Service Medal Anodized
Service: Navy, Marine Corps
Criteria: Exceptionally meritorious service to the U.S. Government in a duty of great responsibility
Devices: Gold, Silver Star
Notes: 107 copies of earlier medal design issued but later withdrawn. First ribbon design was 1½" wide
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For exceptionally meritorious service to the U.S. Government in a duty of great responsibility. The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is worn after the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and before the Silver Star.
The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was established by an Act of Congress and approved on February 4, 1919 and, like the Navy Cross, was made retroactive to April 6, 1917. During this period there was confusion about what criteria constituted the award of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and what criteria constituted the award of the Navy Cross. At the outbreak of World War II, laws governing the award of naval decorations were changed with Public Law 702, which placed the Navy Cross above the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and clearly limited the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service and not for acts of heroism. The first Navy Distinguished Service Medal was awarded, posthumously, to Brigadier General Charles M. Doyen, USMC. The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is a gold medallion with an American bald eagle with displayed wings in the center. The eagle is surrounded by a blue enameled ring which contains the words, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” with “NAVY” at the bottom. Outside the blue ring is a gold border of waves. The medal is suspended from its ribbon by a five pointed white enameled star with an anchor in the center. Behind the star are gold rays emanating from the re-entrant angles of the star. The reverse of the medal contains a trident surrounded by a wreath of laurel. The wreath is surrounded by a blue enamel ring with the inscription, “FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE”. The blue enamel ring is surrounded by a gold border of waves the same as on the front of the medal. The ribbon is navy blue with a gold stripe in the center. Additional awards of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal are denoted by gold stars five sixteenths of an inch in diameter.