Army Commendation Medal – ARCOM

Service: Army
Instituted: 1945 (retroactive to 1941)
Army Commendation Medal 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”. Re-designated: “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 Army Commendation 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 military medal, which is 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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