The Joint Service Commendation Medal: 10 Things You Should Know

While there is a high degree of competition between the branches of the United States military, there is also a long standing agreement to work together jointly to defend and protect the United States and her citizens. Ever since 1993, we have found an even greater cooperation between the military services. The reason for this was Base Realignment and Closure. A large amount of military bases were combined and renamed as joint bases. Some of these include:

  • Joint Base San Antonio. The consolidation of Randolph Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base and Kelly Field Annex. Joint Base San Antonio is controlled by the Air Force.

  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Controlled by the Army, this was the consolidation of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base in Washington State.

  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. In Alaska, the consolidation of Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson. It is controlled by the Air Force.

These are just a few…there are many more. While at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, smaller Joint bases were normally established. It is imperative that are military forces work together, and they can do that better if they are near each other.

In today’s post, we are going to look at a medal that was established recognizing service people who went above and beyond in Joint service. This is 10 things you should know about the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

1: Created when? Robert McNamara who was the Secretary of Defense during both the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson administrations, established the Joint Service Commendation Medal. This was done on June 25th, 1963, but was effective from January 1st, 1963.

2: Who designed? The Institute of Heraldry is the primary ones who design medals and awards for the United States military. Stafford F. Potter of the Institute of Heraldry was the person who designed this magnificent award.

3: The design. A laurel wreath encircles the green enameled hexagons. They are 4 hexagons joined together representing joint military service. The top hexagon has 13 stars and in the center is the Eagle from the seal of the Department of Defense. The Eagle is grasping 3 arrows and has a shield on its breast. The wreath and outer edge of the green enamel is gold. The ribbon holds stripes of green, white and blue. On the back is the inscription: For Military Merit. Between Military and Merit is a place where the recipient’s name can be engraved.

4: The first recipient. The first recipient of the Joint Service Commendation Medal was Lieutenant Colonel Bruce F. Meyers of the United States Marine Corps. Meyers served in 3 wars:

5: If a Bronze Star cannot be awarded. The Joint Service Commendation Medal is awarded for valorous actions against an enemy, but not to the extent of justifying the award of a Bronze Star. Essentially, this award is just below the Bronze Star.

6: If in combat. If the Joint Service Commendation Medal is awarded to a service member who received it due to his/her actions in combat operations, a “V” device will be given also to be put on the ribbon. This shows that it was during combat procedures.

7: More than 1 award. While no service member can receive more than one Joint Service Commendation Medal for the same occurrence, a service member can receive more than one for different actions. Any extra awards are designated with oak leaf clusters that are pinned to the ribbon.

8: Equal, but not equal. Each branch of the military has a commendation medal. If a service member has been awarded an Army Commendation Medal and a Joint Service Commendation Medal, they are considered equal in stature, but when it comes to uniform wear, the Joint Service Commendation Medal is wore above any other commendation medals.

9: Foreign military personnel. The Joint Service Commendation Medal can be awarded to foreign military personnel who were assigned to Joint staff commands. They had to distinguish themselves with meritorious actions or service. This procedure was allowed after February 6th, 2006.

10: Recommendation of the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Commanders can recommend military personnel for this distinguished award. Here is a sample:

Major Jason Richards, United States Army, distinguished himself above and beyond his call of duty with exceptional meritorious service on or about June 16th, 2009.

In service with Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, Major Richards was contacted about a Mi-17 which had crash landed just 3 kilometers from his site. With the knowledge that enemy insurgents could utilize key components of the military vehicle, Major Richards made quick and decisive decisions to first send a team to guard the downed helicopter. He then proceeded to use his leadership skills in the recovery of the downed rig. During the recovery operations, a firefight ensued with terrorist elements.

Due to Major Richards’ solid and quick thinking, United States Army equipment and personnel were evacuated, and 4 insurgents were killed in the process.

The leadership accomplishments of Major Richards reflect great credit upon himself, SOJTF-Afghanistan, and the United States Army

This should have a cover letter attached explaining what award the service member is recommended for, his/her name and serial number, operation, his/her duty, and previous awards. It should also have contact information for the Commander who is writing the recommendation.

Final Thoughts

The Joint Service Commendation Medal is a great award recognizing service members who reached above their duty in Joint service operations. We would love to hear from anyone who has been awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

I believe as time proceeds, we will find more of these medals awarded, because Joint Operations are a key to a strong military.

What are your thoughts? Please tell us in the comment section below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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