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Soldier's Medal
Awarded by United States Army
Type Medal (Decoration)
Awarded for Distinguishing oneself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.
Status Currently awarded
First awarded October 17, 1927
Next (higher) Distinguished Flying Cross
Equivalent Navy & Marine Corps - Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Air Force - Airman's Medal
Coast Guard - Coast Guard Medal
Next (lower) Bronze Star Medal
Soldier's Medal ribbon.svg
Service ribbon

The Soldier's Medal is an individual decoration of the United States Army. It was introduced as Section 11 of the Air Corps Act, passed by the Congress of the United States on July 2, 1926.[1] The criteria for the medal are: "The Soldier's Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States... ...distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy." [2]


The distinguishing criteria for the award of the Soldier's Medal as per Army Regulation 600-8-22, para 3-13 states that "The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy. Awards will not be made solely on the basis of having saved a life."[2] It is the highest honor a soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat situation, held to be equal to or greater than the level which would have justified an award of the Distinguished Flying Cross had the act occurred in combat. Any American servicemember who is eligible for retirement pay will receive an increase of 10 percent in retirement pay, if the level of valor was equal to that which would earn the Distinguished Service Cross. Additional awards of the medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters worn on the suspension and service ribbon of the medal.

The first Soldier's Medals were awarded on October 17, 1927 to John F. Burns and James P. Martin for their heroism during a fire and to James K. Wilson and Cleophas C. Burnett for saving people from drowning.

Notable recipients of the Soldier's Medal include Colin Powell, who during his second tour of duty in the Vietnam War 1968–69), was injured in a helicopter crash and despite his wounds, rescued two comrades from the burning wreckage.

In 1989, Thomas Barnes was awarded The Soldier's Medal for distinguishing himself heroically during a gun battle with an armed felony suspect and while doing so, saved the life of a critically injured victim with multiple gunshot wounds.

In 1998, three soldiers, Hugh Thompson, Jr., Lawrence Colburn and Glenn Andreotta were awarded the Soldier's Medal for their intervention in the My Lai Massacre (1968) which included threatening to fire on their own comrades if they didn't stop the killings.

In 2001, the U.S. Army awarded an unprecedented number of Soldier's Medals (28) to personnel who risked their own lives to assist their fellow comrades in the wake of the September 11 attack on the Pentagon.

At least one hundred Soldier's Medals have been issued since the onset of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Soldier's Medal is considered to be equivalent to the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Airman's Medal, and the Coast Guard Medal.

See also


  1. Mooney, Charles C. and Layman, Martha E. (1944). "Organization of Military Aeronautics, 1907-1935 (Congressional and War Department Action)". Air Force Historical Study No. 25. AFHRA (USAF). Retrieved 14 Dec 2010. , Appendix 5, p. 126.
  2. 2.0 2.1 U.S. Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards

External links

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