What Are the Different Types of Military Medals That Exist Today?


If you’ve met a service member in full-service attire, you’ve probably wondered what all the military medals and ribbons mean?

Receiving a military award or ribbon means you have shown extreme bravery during battle and are only handed out to a select few soldiers.

There is a huge history to these awards, and if you keep reading you’ll learn the 6 different types of military awards a soldier can receive.

  1. Medal of Honor

The highest medal a U.S. service member can get is the Medal of Honor. This is often also called the Congressional Medal of Honor.

It was made in the middle of the Civil War in 1861, with the honor only ever being handed out to the bravest services members who showed extraordinary valor during battle.

There are three different variations of this medal. One was made for the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

  1. Distinguished Service Cross

The Distinguished Service Cross award is given to any soldier who has risked their life while showing extraordinary bravery on the battlefield. This is the second-highest military accolades.

This award was created by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 to signify the bravery and sacrifice of American troops during World War One.

  1. Navy Cross

Similar to its Army counterpart, the Navy Cross is the second-highest honor that can be awarded to Navy troops. And it is received for extreme bravery during battle.

This medial was created in 1919 to honor the troops who fought in World War One.

  1. Air Force Cross

The Air Force Cross is just like the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Cross. It is the second-highest military award that is handed out specifically to Air Force troops.

Created in 1960, many troops like George “Bud” Day and John A. Chapman were awarded this honor for their bravery in battle.

  1. Distinguished Flying Cross

The Distinguished Flying Cross is one of the highest U.S. military accolades. It is awarded to troops of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Department of Homeland Security for bravery and achievement during aerial flight.

This military ribbon was created in 1926 and has been awarded to former U.S. President George H. W. Bush who served in the Navy.

  1. Purple Heart Medal

The Purple Heard Medallions were created in 1782 by President George Washington as a badge of military merit. This prestigious award could be given to soldiers and non-commissioned officers for their service to the country.

This award was later changed, however, to only be awarded to those wounded or killed during battle. And is awarded to any service member within any area of the military.

A few famous Purple Heart Medal recipients include Kurt Vonnegut and former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Want to Learn More About Military Medals?

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about these types of medals, military accolades, and military ribbons. These medals have a deep and rich history with many significant and famous recipients.

It’s always important to support the troops!

Want to learn more about military medals? If so, we have a bunch more informative articles on this and medal alloy so you can become an expert in military medals and ribbons. Check them out now!