Defense
Meritorious Service Medal
Display Recognition

Site Index

      • Example Display Recognition
      • Applicable Military Branches
      • Display Types
      • Issue Requirements
      • Issue Regulations
      • Who May Apply
      • Executive Order 12019
      • Administration Processing and Delivery
      • How To Apply For This Display Recognition and/or Medal
      • Mailing Address
      • Questions?
      • Other Display Recognitions
      • Example Display Recognition:
        Actual Size: 8 1/2 x 11
        Displayed: Air Force.
        All Five Service Branches, Army, Coast Guard,
        Marine and Navy are Applicable.



        Military Branches

        All Military Service branches are applicable:
        Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy

        Who May Apply

        • Veteran recipients
        • Active Duty recipients
        • Family Members of recipients
        • Estate Inheritors

        Display Types

        You have four display types to choose from:
        Black & White (No Color)
        Heavy Bond Enclosure

        Heavy Bond Enclosure
        Colors: Regal, Black, Navy
        Trimmed in Appearance Gold

        Ready for Mantle or Shelf Display

        Issue Requirements
        You must submit the following:

      • An unaltered photocopy of your DD-214 other military issued document clearly displaying your award of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
      • Contact The War Library if you do not have a DD-214: 1-562-422-4100.
      • NOTICE

        This Display Recognition is available ONLY to authorized recipients who possess orders, or authorization form, or release documentation that confirms award eligibility. (See "Issue Requirements"). To obtain either a Display Medal or a Display Recognition for your authorized award you will be required to provide military-issued documentation authorizing your award. There are no exceptions.

        WARNING!
        You must NOT submit a military issued document or photocopy that:

        • has been altered in any way by you after
          the original's official issue
        • contains information or corrections or
          additions that you entered
        • lists awards or training you knowingly did not receive
        • contains highlighting, colorizing or other markings you entered

        Be advised that on request any knowingly fraudulent document sent by you will be released to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that may result in prosecution and/or fine/imprisonment.

        Email Questions, or Phone / Fax: 1-562-422-4100

        Personnel Branch
        Processing and Delivery

        Style Admin Shipping Total
        Full Color .PDF (Printable) $7.50 Emailed $7.50
        Published Document only (Full Color) $14.00 $8.35 $22.35
        Published Document in Heavy Bond Enclosure (Full Color) $19.00 $8.35 $27.35
        Full Color Printable Certificates
        on CD-Rom (minimum 20 Certificates)
        $7.50 $7.50 By Count

      • *** USPS Shipping fee based on 1-3 Certificates shipped to any U.S. state, FPO or APO
      • ** USPS Shipping fee based on 1-10 Certificates shipped to any U.S. state, FPO or APO
      • Contact The War Library for international shipping cost
      • How to Apply

        You may apply for your Display Recognition using a...

      • Check Debit card (* Shipped within 1 week)
      • Charge card (* Shipped within 1 week)
      • Personal, Business, Bank or Cashiers Check ( Shipped in 6 weeks)
      • Money Order (* Shipped within 1 week)
      • (* Upon reception of required documentation)

        Complete and MAIL this APPLICATION FORM.
        Don't forget to include an unaltered COPY of your DD-214, WD AGO 53-55 or other pre-arranged document(s).

        DISPLAY RECOGNITION and/or MEDAL APPLICATION FORM

        Mailing Address

        Records Chief (REC-AMW)
        The American War Library
        817 East Via Carmelitos Ste 319
        Long Beach CA 90805-7549

        Questions?

        Click here for answers to common questions

        Email: Defense Meritorious Service Medal Display Recognition Inquiry

        Telephone: 1-562-422-4100

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        Issue Regulations


        Defense Meritorious Service Medal


        Click for larger image

        Description: A Bronze medal 1 1/2 inches (3.81cm) in diameter overall consisting of a circular wreath of laurel tied with a ribbon at base and at center a pentagon shape slightly overlapping the wreath; overall an eagle with wings upraised standing at the base of the pentagon.

        Symbolism: The eagle is symbolic of the United States; the pentagon shape alludes to the Department of Defense, and the laurel wreath represents achievement.

        Ribbon: A ribbon 1 3/8 inches (8.57cm) in width composed of the following vertical stripes: White 1/16 inch (.16cm), Crimson 1/4 inch (.64cm), White 7/32 inch (.56cm), Bluebird 1/16 inch (.16cm), White 1/16 inch (.16cm), Bluebird 1/16 inch (.16cm), White 1/16 inch (.16cm), Bluebird 1/16 inch (.16cm), White 7/32 inch (.56cm), Crimson 1/4 inch (.64cm), White 1/16 inch (.16cm).

        Symbolism: The colors, crimson and white, are duplicates of the colors of the Legion of Merit ribbon. The stripes of blue (Bluebird) is the color associated with the Department of Defense.

        Background: a. Authorized by E.O. 12019, November 3 1977.

        b. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal (DMSM) shall only be awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, after November 3, 1977, Meritorious themselves by noncombat meritorious achievement or service. Only under the most unusual circumstances will the DMSM be awarded as an impact award for outstanding TDY achievement. The DMSM is specifically intended to recognize exceptionally meritorious service performance and to honor an individual's accomplishments over a sustained period.

        c. The DMSM shall be awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense.

        (1) Authority to award the DMSM is hereby delegated to the following:

        (a) The DA&M for Service members assigned to the OSD; the DoD Field Activities; the joint DoD activities that report directly to an OSD Principle Staff Assistant or for which the Secretary of a Military Department has been designated as an "Executive Agent"; the multilateral and bilateral organizations; and the other offices in the Executive Branch, the Executive Agencies and Departments, or the independent establishments and Government corporations.

        (b) The Director, Joint Staff for Service members assigned to the Joint Staff and those Agencies and activities reporting directly to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that are not delegated approval for the decoration.

        (c) The Commanders in Chief of the Unified or Combined Commands, for Service members assigned to their respective Headquarters or joint activities directly under their operational control. They also may approve that award for the commander, his or her staff, and other Service members attached to a JTF as individuals (not as members of an assigned and/or attached unit).

        (d) The Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic; the U.S. Representative to the Military Committee, NATO; the Defense Advisor, U.S. Mission NATO; and the CINC, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), for Service members assigned to their respective headquarters or associated Agencies.

        (e) The Directors of Defense Agencies (except the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Defense Security Assistance Agency (DSAA)), for Service members assigned to their respective Agencies.

        (f) The Commander, U.S. Forces Korea, for U.S. Service members assigned to their headquarters or joint activities reporting directly to that command.

        (g) The President, National Defense University (NDU), for Service members assigned to the University, National War College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

        (h) The Commandant, Armed Forces Staff College, for Service members assigned to that College.

        (2) That authority may be delegated further at the discretion of the awarding authority to general or flag officers of the Armed Forces of the United States in the grade of O-7 or civilian equivalents when they occupy established command or staff positions. Such authority must be delegated in writing and documentation maintained indefinitely by the organization receiving the authority.

        (d) The DMSM shall take precedent after the DSSM, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star Medal, but before the Military Services' Meritorious Service Medal.

        (e) Recommendations for the DMSM shall be submitted to the appropriate approval authority for processing. In those instances where the approval authority rests with the DA&M, OSD, or the Director, Joint Staff, the recommendation shall be submitted for processing to the Chief, Military Personnel Division, Personnel and Security Directorate, WHS, or the DJS no later than 90 days before the desired presentation date.

        Defense Meritorious Service Medal

        Establishing Authority

        The Defense Meritorious Service Medal was established by Executive Order 12019 was signed by President James E. Carter on November 3, 1977.

        Effective Dates

        The Defense Meritorious Service Medal has been in effect since November 3, 1977.

        Criteria

        The Defense Meritorious Service 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 noncombat outstanding achievement or meritorious service, but not of a degree to warrant award of the Defense Superior Service Medal.

        Order of Precedence

        The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is worn after the Purple Heart and before the Meritorious Service Medal.

        Devices

        Additional awards of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters, except in the case of the Coast Guard. Until 1998, additional awards to Coast Guard personnel were denoted by a gold star five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. In 1998 the Coast Guard authorized its members to wear the oak leaf cluster on this decoration to denote subsequent awards; however, previously authorized gold stars will continue to be worn.

        Designer/Sculptor

        The Defense Meritorious Service Medal was designed and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.

        First Recipient

        The first recipient of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal was Major Terrell G. Covington, U.S. Army.

        Description and Symbolism

        Obverse

        A bronze medal one and a half inches in overall diameter consisting of a circular wreath of laurel tied with a ribbon at its base and in the center, a pentagon shape slightly overlapping the wreath. In the center of (and standing on the base) of the pentagon is an eagle with its wings displayed horizontally.

        The eagle is symbolic of the United States; the pentagon alludes to the Department of Defense (under whose authority the award is given), and the laurel wreath represents achievement.

        Reverse

        The reverse bears the inscription (in raised letters), DEFENSE MERITORIOUS SERVICE in three horizontal lines; around the bottom, the words, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

        Ribbon

        The ribbon consists of a broad white center stripe with three light blue stripes centered in the middle. The white stripe is bordered by ruby red and edged in white. The ruby red and white are adapted from the ribbon of the Meritorious Service Medal, and the blue stripes represent the Department of Defense.

        Executive Order 12019
        Establishing the Defense Meritorious Service Medal

        Source: The provisions of Executive Order 12019 of Nov. 3, 1977, appear at 42 FR 57945, 3 CFR, 1977 Comp., p. 153, unless otherwise noted.

        By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, it is hereby ordered as follows:

        Section 1. There is hereby established a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, with accompanying ribbons and appurtenances, for award by the Secretary of Defense to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who has rendered outstanding non-combat meritorious achievement or service while assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a specified or unified command, a Defense agency, or other such joint activity as may be designated by the Secretary of Defense.

        Sec. 2. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal, with accompanying ribbons and appurtenances, shall be of appropriate design approved by the Secretary of Defense and shall be awarded under such regulations as the Secretary of Defense may prescribe. These regulations shall place the Defense Meritorious Service Medal in an order of precedence after the Medal of Honor, the Meritorious Service Cross, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Silver Star Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, and the Bronze Star Medal, but before the Meritorious Service Medal.

        Sec. 3. No more than one Defense Meritorious Service Medal shall be awarded to any one person, but for each succeeding outstanding meritorious achievement or service justifying such an award a suitable device to be worn with that medal may be awarded under such regulations as the Secretary of Defense may prescribe.

        Sec. 4. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal or device may be awarded posthumously and, when so awarded, may be presented to such representative of the deceased as may be deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Defense.