Instituted: 1942 (retroactive to 8 Sept 1939)
Criteria: Exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the United States
Devices: Army/Air Force: Bronze, Silver Oak Leaf Cluster; Navy/Marine Corps/Coast Guard: Bronze Letter “V” (for valor), Gold, Silver Star
Authorized by Congress on July 20, 1942 for award to members of the Armed Forces of the United States for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service. Superior performance of normal duties will not alone justify award of this decoration.
It is not awarded for heroism but rather service and achievement while performing duties in a key position of responsibility. It may be presented to foreign personnel but is not authorized for presentation to civilian personnel. There are four degrees of this decoration that are awarded to foreign personnel only (Chief Commander, Commander, Officer and Legionnaire).