More than one million awards, decorations, and citations were issued to servicemen over the course of World War II and in the years that followed. The primary U.S. decorations include:

  • Medal of Honor. This is the highest U.S. military decoration, most commonly awarded to members of the U.S. Army and Navy who demonstrated bravery and gallantry above and beyond the call of duty.

  • Distinguished Service Cross. The second-highest award given by the Army and the Army Air Force, presented for exceptional heroism in combat.

  • Navy Cross. The second-highest award given by the Navy and Marine Corps, also for exceptional bravery in combat.

  • Distinguished Service Medal. Awarded by the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps for exceptional meritorious service, most often to senior officers.

  • Silver Star. Awarded for gallantry in action.

  • Legion of Merit. Awarded to officers for exceptional meritorious service.

  • Distinguished Flying Cross. Awarded for heroism or exceptional achievement in flight.

  • Soldier's Medal. An army award issued for heroism not involving action against the enemy.

  • Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Also given for heroism not involving action against the enemy.

  • Bronze Star. Awarded for heroic or meritorious achievement during military operations.

  • Air Medal. Awarded for meritorious achievement in flight to members of all the armed services.

  • Commendation Medal. Established for the U.S. Navy in 1944 and for the Army in 1945, this citation is awarded for meritorious service in peace or war.

  • Purple Heart. First established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and re-established in 1932, this citation is given to servicemen who are wounded or killed in combat. To be eligible for a Purple Heart, a serviceman must have an injury severe enough to merit attention from a medical officer.

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