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Revised and Updated: July 20, 2008
Recipients of the
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Up until World War I the ONLY medal authorized for award to members of the U.S. Army was the Medal of Honor. On January 2, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson issued a Presidential Order establishing the Army's Distinguished Service Cross, an award ONLY for valor in combat as the Army's second highest award, and the Army Distinguished Service Medal, which could be presented for both combat and non-combat actions of distinguished service. (The same Presidential Order also established the Silver Star Citation which eventually became the Silver Star Medal.)
While the Medal of Honor is reserved ONLY for members of U.S. Military Forces, both the DSC and the DSM are authorized for presentation to American Civilians and to Foreign Allies. In all cases it is awarded for:
The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the United States Army, has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility. The performance must be such as to merit recognition for service which is clearly exceptional. Exceptional performance of normal duty will not alone justify an award of this decoration.
The Army Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to members of all branches of service, including civilians and foreign Allies, and in all cases where there is a subsequent award an Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of the second or additional awards. In the case of a SIXTH award, a Silver Oak Leaf Cluster would be worn in lieu of the DSM and four Bronze OLCs, but to date no person has earned more than FIVE awards of the Army DSM. That record is shared by SIX different members of the Army:
- Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. (Who also received 1 Air Force DSM)
- William Eugene DePuy (Who also received 1 Air Force DSM)
- Dwight David Eisenhower (Who also received 1 Navy DSM)
- Douglas A. MacArthur (Who also received 1 Navy DSM)
- Joseph Taggart McNarney (Who also received 1 Navy DSM)
- Bruce Palmer, Jr. (Who also received 1 Air Force DSM)
To date we have identified nearly 5,000 recipients of the Army Distinguished Service Medal in History, comprising an estimated 95% of all award recipients through 1975. The below summary is a work-in-progress, posted when this page went online in July 2008.
Statistical Summary of DSM Awards
Event Army USAF* Navy USMC Civilian Foreign
Indian Campaigns** 7 7 Interim (1871-1898)** 7 7 Spanish-American War** 74 74 Philippine Insurrection** 75 75 China (Boxer Rebellion)** 7 7 Interim (1899-1910)** 24 24 Mexican Border Wars** 8 8 Interim (1910-1917)** 19 19 World War I 1,192 31 31 11 68 548 1,881 Influenza Epidemic 1918 6 6 North Russia 1918-1919 2 1 3 Siberia 1919-1920 8 8 Interim (1918-1942) 17 8 25 World War II 1,275 87 30 6 15 45 1,458 Korea 9 1 9 19 Cold War 175 175 Vietnam 541 1 2 1 545 1946 - 1975 402 223 17 1 3 2 648 TOTALS 3,848 351 89 18 88 595 4,989
* Includes U.S. Army Air Corps (WWI) and U.S. Army Air Force (WWII)
**DSC issued in lieu of previously awarded Certificate of Merit or upgraded from D.S.M. issued in lieu of CM
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