Service: Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard
Criteria: Extraordinary heroism in action against an enemy of the U.S. while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force or while serving with friendly foreign forces
Devices: Gold, Silver Star
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For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force. The Navy Cross is worn after the Medal of Honor and before all other decorations.
The Navy Cross was established by an Act of Congress and approved on February 4, 1919. Initially the Navy Cross was awarded for extraordinary heroism or distinguished service in either combat or peacetime. The criteria was upgraded in August 1942 to limit the award to those individuals demonstrating extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.
The Navy Cross medal is a cross patee with the ends of the cross rounded. It has four laurel leaves with berries in each re-entrant angle, which symbolizes victory. In the center of the cross is a sailing ship on waves. The ship is a caravel, symbolic of ships of the fourteenth century. On the reverse are crossed anchors with cables attached with the letters USN amid the anchors. The ribbon is navy blue with a white center stripe. Additional awards of the Navy Cross are denoted by gold stars five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.