Meritorious Service Medal (United States)

Last updated
Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service w medal.svg
Awarded by the
Department of the Army [1]
Department of the Navy [2]
Department of the Air Force [3]
Department of Homeland Security [4]
Type Military medal (Decoration)
Eligibility Military Personnel Only
Awarded for Outstanding meritorious achievement or service to the United States
Status Currently Awarded
Statistics
Established 1969;49 years ago (1969)
Precedence
Next (higher) Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Next (lower) Air Medal
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon

The Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) is a military award presented to members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguished themselves by outstanding meritorious achievement or service to the United States subsequent to January 16, 1969.

The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States of America. It consists of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and forms military policy with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), both federal executive departments, acting as the principal organs by which military policy is carried out. All five armed services are among the seven uniformed services of the United States.

Contents

The MSM was previously awarded as a decoration for achievement during peacetime, but effective 11 September 2001, this decoration may also be bestowed in lieu of the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement in a designated combat theater. [5] Normally, the acts or services rendered must be comparable to that required for the Legion of Merit but in a duty of lesser, though considerable, responsibility. Within the U.S. Army, according to AR 600-8-22, Paragraph 3-16, the MSM may not be upgraded to or downgraded from a recommended Bronze Star Medal. In the Army, an MSM recommendation that is downgraded will be approved as an Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM).

Bronze Star Medal United States military decoration for wartime meritorious service or valor

The Bronze Star Medal, unofficially the Bronze Star, is a United States decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.

Legion of Merit military award of the United States Armed Forces

The Legion of Merit (LOM) is a military award of the United States Armed Forces that is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. The decoration is issued to members of the seven uniformed services of the United States as well as to military and political figures of foreign governments.

The Commendation Medal is a mid-level United States military decoration which is presented for sustained acts of heroism or meritorious service. For valorous actions in direct contact with an enemy, but of a lesser degree than required for the award of the Bronze Star Medal, a Commendation Medal with "V" Device or Combat "V" is awarded; the "V" device may be authorized for wear on the service and suspension ribbon of the medal to denote valor. On January 7 2016, The "C" Device or Combat "C” was created and may be authorized for wear on the service and suspension ribbon of the Commendation Medal to distinguish an award for meritorious service or achievement under the most arduous combat conditions. A Commendation Medal with Combat Device is unofficially named the “Combat Commendation” and is often considered to be a higher level form of the Commendation Medal, regardless of the Awarding Branch. Retroactive award of the “C” device is not approved for medals awarded before 7 January 2016. Each branch of the United States Armed Forces issues its own version of the Commendation Medal, with a fifth version existing for acts of joint military service performed under the Department of Defense.

A higher award and decoration known as the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (DMSM) is intended for similar services performed under joint duty within the United States Department of Defense, to include the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, and joint task forces under their cognizance.

Defense Meritorious Service Medal

The Defense Meritorious Service Medal (DMSM) is an award bestowed upon members of the United States military by the United States Department of Defense. In the order of precedence of the United States Armed Forces, it is worn between the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal. The medal is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to members of the Armed Forces who, while serving in a joint activity, distinguish themselves by non-combat outstanding achievement or meritorious service, but not of a degree to warrant award of the Defense Superior Service Medal.

United States Department of Defense United States federal executive department

The Department of Defense is an executive branch department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government concerned directly with national security and the United States Armed Forces. The department is the largest employer in the world, with nearly 1.3 million active duty servicemen and women as of 2016. Adding to its employees are over 826,000 National Guardsmen and Reservists from the four services, and over 732,000 civilians bringing the total to over 2.8 million employees. Headquartered at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., the DoD's stated mission is to provide "the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation's security".

Recipients

In the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, recipients of the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) are typically field grade officers in pay grades O-4 through O-6 (major, lieutenant colonel, colonel), senior U.S. Army chief warrant officers in pay grades W-3 through W-5 (CW3 to CW5), and senior non-commissioned officers (E-7 to E-9) in both the Army and the Air Force. Award of the MSM may be for meritorious performance while serving in a staff position as a field grade officer, senior chief warrant officer, or senior non-commissioned officer, or, in the case of field grade officers, for successful completion of a command tour at the battalion (Army) or squadron (Army or Air Force) level. Award of the MSM to company grade officers in pay grades O-1 through O-3 (second lieutenant, first lieutenant, captain), junior warrant officers and chief warrant officers in pay grades W-1 and W-2 (WO1 and CW2, Army only), and junior NCOs in pay grades E-6 and below is rare and typically by exception.

A pay grade is a unit in systems of monetary compensation for employment. It is commonly used in public service, both civil and military, but also for companies of the private sector. Pay grades facilitate the employment process by providing a fixed framework of salary ranges, as opposed to a free negotiation. Typically, pay grades encompass two dimensions: a "vertical" range where each level corresponds to the responsibility of, and requirements needed for a certain position; and a "horizontal" range within this scale to allow for monetary incentives rewarding the employee's quality of performance or length of service. Thus, an employee progresses within the horizontal and vertical ranges upon achieving positive appraisal on a regular basis. In most cases, evaluation is done annually and encompasses more than one method.

Junior officer, company officer or company grade officer refers to the lowest operational commissioned officer category of ranks in a military or paramilitary organization, ranking above non-commissioned officers and below senior officers.

The U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard ascribe to a slightly different philosophy from the Army and the Air Force in awarding the MSM, typically reserving it for senior Navy and Coast Guard officers in pay grades O-5 and O-6 (commander and captain) and Marine Corps field grade officers in pay grades O-5 and O-6 (lieutenant colonel and colonel), with the first award of the MSM typically occurring after completion of a successful commanding officer assignment at the O-5 level. Award of the MSM to USN, USMC, and USCG officers in pay grade O-4 (USN & USCG lieutenant commander / USMC major) and below, to include chief warrant officers and below (other than as an award at retirement to CWO5 and CWO4) is typically by exception and normally limited to those who have held one of the service's handful of O-4–level commanding officer assignments (e.g., Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship) or serving on a USN or USCG flag officer staff or USMC general officer staff. [6] [7]

<i>Avenger</i>-class mine countermeasures ship class of American mine countermeasures ships

Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships are a class of 14 ships constructed for the United States Navy from 1987 to 1994, designed to clear mines from vital waterways. The ships have the hull designator MCM.

Enlisted award of the MSM in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard is likewise typically limited to pay grades E-8 (e.g., USN/USCG senior chief petty officer and USMC master sergeant or first sergeant) and E-9 (e.g., USN/USCG master chief petty officer and USMC sergeant major or master gunnery sergeant), while award of the MSM to pay grade E-7 (e.g., USN/USCG chief petty officer and USMC gunnery sergeant) and below is very rare and by exception. In the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, the awarding authority for the MSM must be either a flag officer or general officer holding the pay grade of O-7 or above. It is most common for Navy and Coast Guard master chief petty officers (typically command master chief petty officers) and Marine Corps master gunnery sergeants and sergeants major to receive the MSM as an end-of-tour award upon retirement. [6]

A flag officer is a commissioned officer in a nation's armed forces senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark the position from which the officer exercises command.

A General Officer is an officer of high rank in the army, and in some nations' air forces or marines.

Master chief petty officer (MCPO) is the ninth, and highest, enlisted rate in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, just above senior chief petty officer (SCPO). Master chief petty officers are addressed as "Master Chief " in the colloquial and they constitute the top 1.25% of the enlisted members of the maritime forces.

Foreign military personnel in the ranks of NATO OF-5 (US O-6 equivalent) and below and individuals who have displayed a level of service that warrants an award of such magnitude may also be eligible to be awarded the MSM, subject to approval by a U.S. flag officer or general officer. To receive this medal, the individual must exhibit exceptionally meritorious service at that level of responsibility. [5]

Design and devices

The Meritorious Service Medal is a bronze medal, 1.5 inches in diameter overall, consisting of six rays issuant from the upper three points of a five-pointed star with beveled edges and containing two smaller stars defined by incised outlines; in front of the lower part of the star an eagle with wings upraised standing upon two upward curving branches of laurel tied with a ribbon between the feet of the eagle. The reverse has the encircled inscriptions "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and "MERITORIOUS SERVICE." The suspension ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/8 inch Crimson 67112; 1/4 inch White 67101; center 5/8 inch Crimson; 1/4 inch White; and 1/8 inch Crimson. [8]

Additional awards of the Meritorious Service Medal are denoted by bronze oak leaf clusters in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, with one silver oak leaf cluster denoting five additional awards. (1 silver OLC plus the medal itself represents six) and gold 5/16 inch stars in the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard (with a 5/16 inch silver star denoting five additional awards). These devices are also authorized for wear on the suspension and service ribbon of the medal. In certain instances, the U.S. Coast Guard also authorizes an Operational Distinguishing Device for the medal.

History

At the Tri-Department Awards Conference (February 5, 1968), there was a discussion on the need for a third meritorious award to provide appropriate recognition for non-combat achievement or service comparable to that of the Bronze Star Medal for combat achievement or service. It was felt that the Legion of Merit's prestige was slipping because it was being used with increasing frequency to reward service below the Legion of Merit's intended standard, but higher than that required for the Commendation Medals of the various military services. [9]

An ad hoc committee was formed by the Secretary of Defense (M&RA) to select a name. On November 8, 1968, the committee unanimously approved the name "Meritorious Service Medal". President Lyndon B. Johnson established the Meritorious Service Medal per Executive Order 11448, dated January 16, 1969. The Executive Order was amended by President Ronald Reagan per Executive Order 12312, dated July 2, 1981, to authorize award to members of the armed forces of friendly foreign nations.

Prior to 2004, the MSM could only be awarded for peacetime service and could not be awarded in a combat zone, the MSM equivalent for those zones being the Bronze Star Medal (BSM). As in 1968 when the MSM was created, there were concerns that the prestige of the BSM was also slipping during combat operations in Southwest Asia that had essentially been continuous since 1990. In 2004, authority to award the MSM for combat zone service was authorized, retroactive to 11 Sep 2001.

The medal was designed by Mr. Jay Morris of the Institute of Heraldry, and the design was approved by the committee on March 20, 1969. The ribbon design purposely follows the colors used for the Legion of Merit to reflect the parallel between the two medals. The eagle, symbol of the United States, stands on laurel branches denoting achievement. The star is used to represent the military service and the rays emanating therefrom denote the constant efforts of individuals to achieve through excellent and meritorious service.

See also

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References