Service: Coast Guard
Criteria: Exceptionally meritorious service to the United States Government in a duty of great responsibility
Devices: Gold Star
Notes: Originally authorized in 1949 but the design was not approved until 1961
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The Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal was officially established by an Act of Congress on August 4, 1949 but its design was not approved until February 1, 1961. It is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard, distinguishes himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the United States in a duty of great responsibility.
To justify an award of the Distinguished Service Medal, exceptional performance of duty, clearly above that normally expected, which has contributed materially to the success of a major command or project, is required. In general, the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal is awarded only to those officers in principal commands whose service is such as to justify the award.