The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration and is the fourth highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious service.
Bronze Star Medal
The medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the military of the United States after December 6, 1941, distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States is not a belligerent party.
Awards may be made for acts of heroism, performed under circumstances described above, which are of lesser degree than required for the award of the Silver Star. Awards may also be made to recognize single acts of merit or meritorious service. The required achievement or service while of lesser degree than that required for the award of the Legion of Merit must nevertheless have been meritorious and accomplished with distinction.
The Bronze Star Medal is typically referred to by its full name (including the word Medal) to differentiate the decoration from bronze service stars which are worn on campaign medals.
General George C. Marshall, in a memorandum to President Franklin Roosevelt dated February 3, 1944, wrote:
- “The fact that the ground troops, Infantry in particular, lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who must close in personal combat with the enemy, makes the maintenance of their morale of great importance. The award of the Air Medal have had an adverse reaction on the ground troops, particularly the Infantry Riflemen who are now suffering the heaviest losses, air or ground, in the Army, and enduring the greatest hardships.”
The Air Medal had been adopted two years earlier to raise airmen's morale. President Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star Medal by Executive Order 9419 dated February 4, 1944, retroactive to December 7, 1941. This authorization was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 3, dated February 10, 1944.
The Executive Order was amended by President John F. Kennedy, per Executive Order 11046 dated August 24, 1962, to expand the authorization to include those serving with friendly forces. Such an honor has been presented but three times:
- To the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry for their fight in the Medak Pocket in the former Yugoslavia;
- To the 1st Battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment for its defense of the airport at Sarajevo;
- To 26 members of 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group, including posthumously to four killed when a U.S. F-16 fighter-bomber mistakenly attacked them as they conducted a night firing exercise on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
CIB & CMB Conversion
As a result of a study conducted in 1947, the policy was implemented that authorized the retroactive award of the Bronze Star Medal to soldiers who had received the Combat Infantryman Badge or the Combat Medical Badge during World War II. The basis for doing this was that the badges were awarded only to soldiers who had borne the hardships which resulted in General Marshall's support of the Bronze Star Medal. Both badges required a recommendation by the commander and a citation in orders.
The Bronze Star is a bronze star 1 1/2 inches (38 mm) in circumscribing diameter. In the center thereof is a 3/16 inch (48 mm) diameter superimposed bronze star, the center line of all rays of both stars coinciding. The reverse has the inscription "HEROIC OR MERITORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT" and a space for the name of the recipient to be engraved. The star is suspended from the ribbon by a rectangular shaped metal loop with the corners rounded. The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches (35 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/32 inch (1 mm) white 67101; 9/16 inch (14 mm) scarlet 67111; 1/32 inch (1 mm) white; center stripe 1/8 inch (3 mm) ultramarine blue 67118; 1/32 inch (1 mm) white; 9/16 inch (14 mm) scarlet; and 1/32 inch (1 mm) white.
Additional awards of the Bronze Star Medal are denoted in the U.S. Army and United States Air Force by oak leaf clusters. The U.S. Navy, United States Marines, and U.S. Coast Guard issue award stars to denote subsequent decorations.
The Valor device (or "V" device) is authorized by all services and is awarded to represent valor and does not denote an additional award. Only one may be worn on any ribbon.