The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is a prestigious award given to both members of United States Armed Forces, and to allied service members.
The majority of those awarded with the Defense Meritorious Service Medal are officers normally in pay grades of O-5 or above, but there are some in lesser pay grades who have achieved this honor.
In today’s post, we are going to provide 15 cool facts about the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed Executive Order #12019 which established the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is the 3rd highest award that can be attained in non-combat situations.
The criteria to be awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal is almost exactly the same as the criteria for the Meritorious Service Medal. The difference comes in that the Defense Meritorious Service Medal is awarded for exceptional performance in a joint service, while the Meritorious Service Medal is for exceptional service while in a traditional military unit.
In the majority of scenarios, a service member must be in the joint service for a period of 12 months or more to be eligible for the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. There are exceptions, but they are scrutinized closely.
5: Pay Grades.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is reserved for service members of certain pay grades. These consist of:
Officers with the pay grade of O-4 or higher.
Warrant officers with the pay grade of W-3 or higher.
Enlisted soldiers with the pay grade of E-8 or higher.
In 2014, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order #13666 which allows service members of allied forces who are working within joint commands the ability to be awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
7: Who Designed.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal? When it was determined that the Defense Meritorious Service Medal would become an award given to service members, the idea was sent to the Institute of Heraldry. Mildred Orloff designed this prestigious medal, and Lewis King Jr. Sculpted it.
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8: The Design.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is bronze. The outer edge is a laurel leaf wreath with a ribbon tied at the bottom. In the center is a pentagon, and over it is an eagle with spread wings. On the back of the medal the words: Defense Meritorious Service are engraved at the top. In the middle is a place to engrave the recipient’s name. At the bottom, the words: United States of America are engraved.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is of high regard. When the ribbon is wore on the dress uniform, the medal’s ribbon is just below the Purple Heart, and it sits just above the Meritorious Service Medal.
10: More Than 1.
If a service member is awarded more than 1 Defense Meritorious Service Medals, extras are denoted with an oak leaf cluster.
11: Possible Joint Commands a Service Member Can Gain Eligibility Serving In.
The United States Military has grown in Joint Commands. By each branch working together, it creates a military force that is unbeatable. Some of the Joint Commands a service member could attain the Defense Meritorious Service Medal by serving in are:
Joint missions through the Office of the Secretary of Defense
Joint missions through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
NATO Military Committee
Allied Command Europe
Allied Command Atlantic
and any other Joint Military Commands.
Notable Defense Meritorious Service Medal Winners
12: General David Petraeus.
It only makes good sense this great military leader earned the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. He commanded:
U.S. Forces Afghanistan
13: Rear Admiral Barbara McGann.
McGann served in several positions of Joint Military service. In 1978, she worked at the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She commanded Naval Support in Scotland in 1987 where she was the Joint Specialty Officer. Yes, retired Rear Admiral Barbara McGann deserved the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
14: Colonel Bud Day.
Colonel Day was instrumental in getting John McCain through being captured by the Viet Cong. Day helped McCain, and McCain helped Day. Colonel Bud Day passed away in 2013, but he was instrumental in having Joint military minds in the North Vietnamese military prisons.
15: General Peter Pace.
General Pace was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Commander of U.S. Southern Command. It only makes good sense that he was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is a Joint Service Medal that is honorable and prestigious. If you have a goal to attain this award, it is a great goal. I truly believe that as years pass by, Joint military service will become even more the norm. It is by joint service that all branches can work as a team to defend and protect the United States and her allies.
Do you know anyone who has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal? Tell us more! If you have any questions or comments, just post them below. Thank you for visiting.
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4 thoughts on “The Defense Meritorious Service Medal: 15 Cool Facts”
My son got this award last month. He’s an E6 in the Army. SUPER proud of him.
I was proud to be receive this award during my service while in the Us Navy. As a chief petty officer (E7) I was not aware that it was unusual for an enlisted to be honored with this award. Thank you for this article, it was very interesting.
Dan Hogan MSC USN Ret.
I wrote one for my SFC and it took me a lot of convincing, revision etc. to get it approved. He really did earn that award and i am glad he got it.