The Soldier's Medal for Acts of Valor

Silhouette of soldier saluting the American flag
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The Soldier’s Medal is a Bronze 1 3/8 inch wide octagon. Illustrated on the front between two groups of stars, six on the left and seven on the right, is an eagle standing on a fasces. There is a spray of leaves above the group of six stars. The upper edge of the reverse side of the octagon bears the inscription “Soldier's Medal” and written across the face are the words “For Valor.”

Engraved is a shield paly consisting of 13 sections held up by sprays of laurel and oak in which the letter “US” is engraved on the chief. Space is available for the name of the recipient on a panel in the base. A rounded corner, rectangular-shaped metal loop suspends the Soldier’s Medal from the ribbon.

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Silhouette of soldier saluting the American flag
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The ribbon for the Soldier’s Medal is 1 3/8 inches wide and has 15 stripes. On either end of the medal, there is a 3/8 inch stripe of Ultramarine Blue. Between the end stripes, there are 13 White and Old Glory Red stripes of equivalent width.

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC

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The Soldier's Medal is awarded to any individual whom while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, or any citizen of a friendly foreign nation that while working with the United States Army, is recognized for heroism not concerning a direct encounter with an enemy. A degree of valor as required for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross is required for the awarding of the Soldier's Medal.

The act justifying the award of the medal must have entailed a personal risk or hazard and the personal choice of a risk of their life under conditions not concerning a direct encounter with an enemy. Only saving a life will not be ​a basis for the award.

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Soldier firing rifle at sunset


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In 1922, the War Department recognized acts of bravery should be acknowledged and began issuing orders for acts of bravery during times of peace. Because of this, an Act of Congress (Public Law 446-69th Congress, 2 July 1926 (44 Stat. 780)) recognized the Soldier's Medal of those acts of valor that did not concern direct encounter with an enemy.

The Quartermaster General, on 11 August 1926, was ordered by the Secretary of War, via a letter signed by the Adjutant General, to plan and propose fitting designs of the Soldier's Medal.

The Secretary of War applied for aid in creating a design from the Secretary of Treasury in a letter on 18 January 1927. On 22 January 1927, the Secretary of Treasury indicated in a letter of response that the Director of the Mint to ask the Engraver of the Mint at Philadelphia to propose blueprints and a prototype.

On 22 June 1927, the Philadelphia Mint finished and sent the proposed design to the Commission of Fine Arts for their comments. The Secretary of War heard from the Commission of Fine Arts in a letter on 27 February 1928 that, "It would be a very serious disappointment to this Commission, after all its struggles to obtain good medals, to have to rely on work of this character.

One of the fundamental objections to the designs submitted is a lack of that simplicity which should characterize all medals of the highest class. The designs and casts are disapproved and returned."

On 20 January 1930, Mr. Gaetano Cecere, New York, NY, was sent a letter from the Quartermaster General requesting blueprints and suggesting that the War Department would pay no more than $1500.00 for blueprints and a prototype. On 5 May 1930, Mr. Cecere's blueprint was approved by the Commission.​

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Special Entitlements

Color Guards on the USS Carl Vinson
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The present statutory requirements for the Soldier's Medal are contained in Federal Law, Title 10, United States Code (USC), Section 3750. Under this entitlement, enlisted persons, when recognized for heroism equal to that necessary for the earning of the award of the Distinguished Service Cross, may be allowed an increase in retired pay under Title 10, USC 3991.