The Silver Star Medal: An Overview

In today’s post, we are going to provide you with an overview of an award within the United States military that is an extreme honor. If you have received this honor or know someone who has, you can be sure they performed a service of high regard.

Scroll down and read about the Silver Star Medal.

History of the Silver Star

On July 9th, 1918, the United States Congress declared an authorization that military personnel could be awarded a small silver star which was called the Citation Star. Being authorized during World War I, this award was made retroactive. Soldiers as far back as the Spanish American War were awarded this honor.

Award level

The Silver Star is the 3rd highest award given to service members for valor. The 1st highest is the Congressional Medal of Honor, and just above the Silver Star is the Distinguished Service Cross.

Qualifications to be awarded the Silver Star Medal

As stated in the paragraph above, the Silver Star is awarded for extreme valor. It is awarded for gallantry in action that does not justify being awarded one of the 2 higher awards. This gallantry must occur while in military operations against an enemy force, or while the service member is serving with friendly forces in armed conflict against enemy forces.

Any member who earns more than one Silver Star will be awarded oak leaf clusters in lieu of a second award.


In 1932, Congress authorized a redesign of the Citation Star. The company of Bailey, Banks and Biddle designed the new medal which was designated the Silver Star. The original Citation Star was used in the very center of the five-point star all centered in a laurel wreath. 18 rays come out of the star to the wreath. On the reverse side the makers inscribed “For Gallantry In Action” at the top leaving room to engrave the awardee’s name.

The ribbon that holds this distinguished medal is of a patriotic coloration. The center stripe is red, with 2 white stripes surrounding it. The next stripes are blue with a thin white stripe toward the outer edge and the edge is another small stripe of blue.


It is regulation that when a service member is awarded the Silver Star, it must be done in a formal atmosphere and impressive. It is recommended that other troops are in attendance. If these arrangements are not possible, the division or a Commander of higher stature can present the award to the service member.

# of Awarded Individuals

There are no accurate records as to how many Silver Stars have been awarded since its inception. Independent studies claim that estimates come to approximately 125,000 Silver Stars awarded.

When we consider who may have won the most Silver Stars, Colonel David Hackworth comes to the top of the list. Between Korea and Vietnam, the Colonel earned an amazing 10 Silver Stars along with 2 Distinguished Service Crosses and 8 Purple Hearts.

Final Thoughts

The Silver Star is a great honor for any Soldier or officer. It is awarded in all branches of the United States military. Anyone who wears this honorable award earned it through extreme bravery.

Do you know someone who has earned a Silver Star? Do you wear a Silver Star? We would love to hear about the action in which you earned this award.

All comments are welcome. To all who wear the Silver Star, thank you for your service to the United States of America and her citizens. You have every right to be proud of the Silver Star you wear.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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1 thought on “The Silver Star Medal: An Overview”

  1. My dad was in the battle of the bulge,he received a purple heart,
    bronze star and a silver star.On the silver star ribbon there is a
    grenade and on the purple heart ribbon there are 3 grenades,
    what do they mean.They look like grenades?
    Thank You,

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