Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Recognition Display

This Display Recognition is available ONLY to personnel who have already received their award and possess orders, or authorization form, or release documentation as confirmation. (See "Issue Requirements", below). If you do not possess the required documentation you may not apply for this display recognition. There are no exceptions.

Site Index

  • Example Display Recognition
  • Applicable Military Branches
  • Display Types
  • Issue Requirements
  • Issue Regulations
  • Administration Processing and Delivery
  • How To Apply
  • Mailing Address
  • Questions?
  • Other Display Recognitions
  • Sea Service Websites
  • Example Display Recognition:
    Actual Size: 8 1/2 x 11
    Displayed: Air Force.
    Navy, Marine Corps

    Military Branches

    All Military Service branches are applicable:
    United States Navy, United States Marine Corps

    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 one of the following:

      • An unaltered photocopy of your DD-214, OR WD AGO 53-55, OR other military issued document clearly displaying your Navy Distinguished Service Medal.
        • Contact The War Library if you do not have a DD-214 or or WD AGO 53-55: 1-562-422-4100 (Pacific Time Zone).

         You must NOT submit a DD-214/215
         or WD AGO 53-55 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 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

    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 $12.60 USPS $26.60
    Published Document in Heavy Bond Enclosure (Full Color) $19.00 $12.60 USPS $31.60
    Full Color Printable Certificates
    on CD-Rom (minimum 20 Certificates)
    $7.50 $7.50 By Count

  • *** USPS USPS Shipping fee based on 1 Certificate shipped to any U.S. state, FPO or APO
  • ** USPS USPS Shipping fee based on 1 Certificate 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 Recognition Display using a...

      • Check Debit card (* Shipped within 2-3 days)
      • Charge card (* Shipped within 2-3 days)
      • Personal or Business Check ( 3-4 week shipping)
      • Money Order (* Shipped within 2-3 days)
      • (* 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).


    Mailing Address

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


    Email: Navy Distinguished Service Medal Display Recognition Inquiry

    Telephone: 1-562-422-4100 (Pacific Time Zone)

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    Military and Veteran Websites
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    Locator Registry Applications
    Accessing The Worldwide Military Personnel Database

    Issue Regulations

      Navy Distinguished Service Medal

      Authorized on February 4, 1919, and amended on August 7, 1942. The medal is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces who, while serving with the United States Navy in any capacity, since April 6, 1917, distinguishes themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the government in a duty of great responsibility. Awarded for combat or non-combat services.

      Establishing Authority

      The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was established by Act of Congress (Public Law 253, 65th Congress), approved February 4, 1919.

      Effective Dates

      The Navy Distinguished Service Medal has been in effect since April 6, 1917.


      The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to service members who, while serving in any capacity with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility.

      Order of Precedence

      The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is worn after the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and before the Silver Star.


      Additional awards of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal are denoted by gold stars five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.


      The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was designed by Paul Manship (1885-1966).

      First Recipient

      The first person to receive the Navy Distinguished Service Medal was Brigadier General Charles A. Doyen, USMC, who received the medal posthumously on March 13, 1919.

      Description and Symbolism


      The central feature of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal is an American bald eagle with displayed wings in the center of a gilt-bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter. The eagle holds an olive branch and arrows in its right and left talons, respectively. The eagle is surrounded by a blue enameled ring which contains the words, UNITED STATES NAVY, with NAVY centered at the bottom. Outside the blue enamel ring is a gold border consisting of scroll waves moving in a clockwise direction. The medal is suspended from its ribbon by a five-pointed star (point up) tipped with gold balls. In the center of the star is an anchor, and gold rays emanate from the re-entrant angles of the star.

      The basic theme of the obverse design is taken from the Army Distinguished Service Medal, which also has an eagle in the center and which is also surrounded by a blue enameled ring. The eagle is the American bald eagle and represents the United States, while the scroll waves allude to naval service (as does the star which suspends the medal). The olive branches and arrows in the eagles talons refer to distinguished service in either war or peace. The star used in the suspender stands for military service, and the anchor within the star indicates service performed on behalf of the Navy.


      In the center of a gilt-bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, a trident surrounded by a wreath of laurel. The wreath is in turn surrounded by a blue enamel ring which contains the inscription FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE. The blue enamel ring is surrounded by scroll waves of the same type found on the obverse of the medal.

      The trident symbolizes the authority of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea who had the power to cause earthquakes (in Roman mythology Poseidon was called Neptune). The trident thus alludes to naval service, as do the scroll waves which surround the blue ring. The laurel wreath surrounding the trident represents achievement.


      The ribbon to the Navy Distinguished Service Medal is a field of Navy blue with a center stripe of gold. These are the colors of the U.S. Navy.

      10 USC Sec. 6243 01/26/98


      Subtitle C - Navy and Marine Corps



      TEXT Sec. 6243. Distinguished-service medal The President may award a distinguished-service medal of appropriate design and a ribbon, together with a rosette or other device to be worn in place thereof, to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Navy or the Marine Corps, distinguishes himself by exceptionally meritorious service to the United States in a duty of great responsibility. SOURCE (Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 389.) NOTES Historical and Revision Notes

      Revised section Source (U.S. Code) Source (Statutes at Large)

      6243 34 U.S.C. 355. Feb. 4, 1919, ch. 14, Sec. 2, 40 Stat. 1056; renumbered Sec. 3 and amended Aug. 7, 1942, ch. 551, Sec. 1, 56 Stat. 743.

      The word "award" is substituted for the word "present" to cover the determination of the recipient as well as the actual presenting of the decoration. The words "but not in the name of Congress" are omitted as surplusage, since a decoration is presented in the name of Congress only if Congress so directs. The words "Navy or the Marine Corps" are substituted for the words "Navy of the United States" because the provision is interpreted as authorizing the award of the medal to persons serving with the Marine Corps as well as with the Navy. The words "since the sixth day of April 1917 has distinguished" are omitted as executed. The words "United States" are substituted for the word "Government" for uniformity. CROSSREF CROSS REFERENCES Award of distinguished-service medal to members of Army and Air Force, see sections 3743 and 8743 of this title.