This medal is awarded to any officer or enlisted person of the Armed Forces of the United Stateswho shall have distinguished themselves in actual combat in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11,1918. The decoration may also be given for an act performed prior to November 11, 1918, whenthe individual has been recommended for, but has not received the Medal of Honor, DistinguishedService Cross, Navy Cross, or Distinguished Service Medal.The DFC was awarded first to Captain Charles A. Lindbergh, of the U.S. Army Corps Reserve, for his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. The first DFC to be awarded to a Navy man was toCommander Richard E. Byrd, of the U.S. Navy Air Corps, on May 9, 1926, for his flight to andfrom the North Pole. Amelia Earhart also received the Distinguished Flying Cross, and hers is theonly such award since an executive order on March 1, 1927, ruled that the DFC should not beconferred on civilians.During wartime, members of the armed forces of friendly foreign nations serving with the UnitedStates are eligible for the DFC. It is also given to those who display heroism while working asinstructors or students at flying schools.
Background to the Air Medal
In a letter from the Secretary of War to the Director, Bureau of Budget, dated 9 March 1942, theSecretary submitted a proposed executive order establishing the Air Medal for award to any personwho, while serving in any capacity of the Army of the United States, distinguishes himself bymeritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight. The Secretary of War, in hisrequest, stated "The Distinguished Flying Cross is available only for heroism or extraordinaryachievement while participating in aerial flight…It is desired not to cheapen the DistinguishedFlying Cross by awarding it for achievement not bordering on the heroic. It is, however, importantto reward personnel for meritorious service."The Air Medal was authorized by President Roosevelt by Executive Order 9158, on 11 May 1942,and established the award for "any person who, while serving in any capacity in the Army, Navy,Marine Corps or Coast Guard of the United States subsequent to September 8, 1939, distinguishes,or has distinguished, himself by meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight."Authorization was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 25, on 25 May 1942.Executive Order 9242-A, dated 11 September 1942 amended the previous Executive Order to read"in any capacity in or with the Army". In July 1942, the Office of The Quartermaster General(OQMG), forwarded a letter to twenty-two artists offering an opportunity to submit designs for consideration. The design selected was submitted by Walker Hancock and approved by theSecretary of War on 31 December 1942 (Hancock also received a cash award of $1,500 for thewinning design). Walker Hancock had been inducted into the Army and assigned to CampLivingston, Louisiana, where he was ordered on temporary duty, effective 16 November 1942, tothe G-1 Section of the War Department to work on the medal. The medal is a bronze compass roseof sixteen points with a fleur-de-lis design on the top point. On the obverse, in the center, is anAmerican eagle, swooping downward (attacking) and clutching a lightning bolt in each talon. The3