Robert E. Wyllie.

Orders, decorations and insignia, military and civil; with the history and romance of their origin and a full description of each online

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of personal heroism on his part, except in the most unusual
cases. This will illustrate why another decoration was
needed, one to be given for services other than heroism.

Considering the arm of service of the Medal of Honor
recipients, the character of the work performed by the
infantry is well shown by the fact that 73 of the entire
78 went to that branch, this includes 5 for Marines
serving with the Army as infantry. Of the remainder two
went to the Tank Corps, and one each to the Engineers,
Field Artillery, and Air Service.

The division which received the greatest number was
the Thirtieth with twelve, then came the Thirty-third and
Thirty-ninth with nine each, then the Second with seven,


then the Twenty-seventh and Seventy-seventh with six
each. No other division received as many as five.

Prior to the World War 624 Navy Medals of Honor had
been awarded, this includes those bestowed on members
of the Marine Corps; during that war seven were given,
all under the old law and all to enlisted men of the Navy.

Distinguished Service Medal

This decoration for the Army was established by execu-
tive order in January, 191 8, and confirmed by Congress
the following July. It can be awarded to "any person
who while serving in any capacity with the Army of the
United States, shall distinguish himself or herself, by
specially meritorious service to the Government in a duty
of great responsibility." The Distinguished Service Medal
for the Navy is awarded under exactly the same condi-
tions as that quoted above for the Army and was estab-
lished by Act of Congress in February, 1919. This deco-
ration ranks next to the Medal of Honor and is therefore
worn to the right of all others on the left breast, the Medal
of Honor being at the neck. It should be noted that the
services to be rewarded need not be rendered at the front,
much less in action, the requirement of great responsi-
bility being the governing factor. It was intended to be
used in the same way as the Legion of Honour in France
and other orders and decorations with which European
countries reward leaders of their military and naval forces.

On the occasion of the first presentation in Washington,
the Secretary of War spoke as follows :


^merttan Becorattons^

The institution of the Distinguished Service Medal in the
Army of the United States is in recognition of the fact that
in an army of modern times, all the fighting is not done on
the fighting front, but that those who served by way of pre-
paring others, and those whose services were specially neces-
sary in association with military operations, are equally
serving in the cause. This medal is also awarded to civilians,
because under conditions of modern warfare it has been dis-
covered, of course, that the civilian side is inseparably con-
nected with the actual fighting side ; that modern war engages
all the power of the nation, military, industrial, financial, and
moral. The Distinguished Service Medal is, therefore,
awarded, not for technical military or combat service, but to
those who in positions of great responsibility have conferred
distinguished service upon their country through the Military
Establishment and in association with it.

At that time he was presenting the medal to seven
officers; one was General March, the Chief of Staff of the
United States Army since March, 191 8, and prior to that
time General Pershing's Chief of Artillery. The services
of the other six officers during the World War had been
rendered entirely on this side of the Atlantic.

General Goethals of the General Staff, who had complete
charge of the programme for the procurement of supplies
for the entire army.

General Jervey of the General Staff, who as Director of
Operations was responsible for the preparation and exe-
cution of the plans for the organization of personnel and
the movement of the troops to France.

General Crowder, Provost Marshal General, under whose
direction the Selective Service Act was put into operation


0xbtv^, JBecorations;, anb 3n£fignia

and the draftees sent under instructions coming from the
Chief of Staff.

General Hines who organized and administered the em-
barkation service which carried all our troops overseas.

General Black, Chief of Engineers, who administered
the entire military railway service, in addition to the other
duties of that office.

General Gorgas, the Surgeon General.

It can be seen that the services of these officers and those
under them were fully as important in the prosecution of
the war as any which were rendered on the fighting front.
The troops could not have been mobilized, equipped, or
transported to France unless this work had been performed
properly in Washington. On the other hand, the Secre-
tary's remarks should not be interpreted as meaning that
this medal is given only to those who served in the rear
or on this side of the Atlantic, 78% of the awards were
for services rendered in the A.E.F., to the commanders
and staff officers who planned and executed the different
campaigns and battles. The following is the citation
awarding this medal to General Pershing :

By direction of the President the distinguished service
medal was awarded on October 21, 1918, to General JOHN
JOSEPH PERSHING, commanding general, American Ex-
peditionary Forces, as a token of the gratitude of the Ameri-
can people to the commander of our armies in the field for
his distinguished services, and in appreciation of the success
which our armies have achieved under his leadership.

The same order also conferred this medal on Marshal
Foch, the Commander-in-Chief of the allied armies;


iSmericatt ©ecorationsf

Marshal Joffre, the victor of the first battle of the Marne;
Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the Commander-in-
Chief of the British armies; General Petain, the Com-
mander-in-Chief of the French armies; Lieutenant-Gen-
eral Diaz, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Army, and
Lieutenant-General Gillain, the Belgian Chief of Staff.
These were the first Distinguished Service Medals
awarded, the first actual presentation being to Marshal
Foch. King Albert himself commanded the Belgian
armies, and was decorated with the Distinguished Service
Medal for his services in that capacity while in Washing-
ton in October, 191 9.

It should also be observed that this decoration can be
awarded to women, and the following is a citation illus-
trating this:

By direction of the President the distinguished service
medal was awarded posthumously to Miss Jane A. Delano for
exceptionally meritorious and conspicuous service as director,
Department of Nursing, American Red Cross. She applied
her great energy and used her powerful influence among the
nurses of the country to secure enrollments in the American
Red Cross. Through her great efforts and devotion to duty
18,732 nurses were secured and transferred to the Army Nurse
Corps for service during the War. Thus she was a great factor
in assisting the Medical Department in caring for the sick
and wounded.

It must be obvious that junior officers and men are
rarely placed in "a duty of great responsibility" which is
a requisite for this decoration, consequently the effect is
to practically limit the Distinguished Service Medal to


senior officers, only one per cent of the actual awards
made going to grades below major.

About 1 200 Army Distinguished Service Medals have
been bestowed for services rendered in the World War,
these were distributed as follows:

U. S. Army officers (including Marines serving with Army

in France) 55%

Foreign Officers 37%

Civilians, American and foreign 6%

U. S. Naval officers 2%

As in the case of the Medal of Honor two Distinguished
Service Medals cannot be given to one person, and the
same bronze oakleaf cluster that is used for a second
award of a Medal of Honor is also applicable to the
Army Distinguished Service Medal, but, as in the case of
the valour decoration, no such award has yet been made.
It should be noted however that the Army and Navy
decorations are not considered the same, even though
the conditions are alike, and Admiral Benson, Chief of
Naval Operations during the World War, has received
Distinguished Service Medals from both the Army and
the Navy.

This decoration cannot be awarded for any service
which took place more than three years before, except
when the person was cited in orders at the time of the
occurrence, in such an event the case can be considered
on its merits and a Distinguished Service Medal awarded
if the services justify it under the law. Seven such
awards have been made for services rendered prior to
the World War.










American ©ecorations^

The illustrations show that the ribbons of the Army
and Navy Distinguished Service Medals are not the same,
and this is the only exception to the general rule, as in
all other cases the Army and Navy have identical ribbons
although the designs of the medals are different. The
Army medal was designed by Captain Aymar Embury,
III, Engineer Reserve Corps, and the plaster model from
which the die was made was the work of Corporal Gaetano
Cecere, Fortieth Engineers. On the reverse is a trophy of
flags (Plate 6). The Navy medal is gilded bronze and
was designed by the sculptor, Mr. Paul Manship. On
the obverse is the American eagle surrounded by a blue
enamelled band bearing the inscription "United States of
America, Navy." On the reverse is a trident and the
legend "For Distinguished Service." The whole is sur-
mounted by a five-pointed star enamelled white and
charged with an anchor (Plate 9).

Distinguished Service Cross

The Distinguished Service Cross was instituted at the
same time as the Distinguished Service Medal and was
designed by the same artist. In the first few struck, the
arms of the cross were heavily decorated with oakleaves,
but these were recalled and all subsequent crosses are
plain as shown in the illustration (Plate 6).

This is purely an Army decoration and is to reward
individual acts of "extraordinary acts of heroism in con-
nection with military operations against an armed enemy"
not warranting the award of a Medal of Honor. It is


C^rbersi, laecorationji, anb Sn^iignia

not confined to officers and men, but can also be bestowed
on civilians serving with the Army in any capacity.

It will be recalled that the law covering the Medal of
Honor requires that the act of heroism be performed "in
action involving actual conflict with an enemy," which is
very different from the requirements for the Distinguished
Service Cross. The latter does not necessarily involve
actual conflict, it is limited to time of war because in
peace there is no enemy, but when hostilities are in prog-
ress any act of extraordinary heroism, no matter how far
from the battle front, can be rewarded with the Cross,
so long as it was *Hn connection with military operations
against an armed enemy."

Several bronze oakleaf clusters have been bestowed in
lieu of a second award, as instanced by the following
citations :

By direction of the President the distinguished service
cross was awarded by the commanding general, American Ex-
peditionary Forces, for extraordinary heroism in action in
Europe, to the following-named officers and enlisted men of
the American Expeditionary Forces:

* * *

Julius Aaronson, private, Company G, 109th Infantry.
For extraordinary heroism in action near Apremont, France,
October 7, 191 8. When his company was suddenly fired upon
by enemy machine guns during an advance and forced to
seek shelter, Private Aaronson remained in the open under a
continuous shower of machine-gun bullets, caring for eight
wounded men, dressing their wounds and securing their

For the following act of extraordinary heroism in action
near Apremont, France, on the same date. Private Aaronson is


^mtxitan jaecoratiotiJEi

awarded an oakleaf cluster to be worn with the distinguished-
service cross: Having become separated from his company
and wounded by a bullet which pierced his helmet, he advanced
alone on a machine-gun nest across an open field in broad
daylight, killed the gunner and captured two of the crew,
whom he pressed into the service of carrying wounded.

The experiences of Lieutenant Hunter of the Air Service,
as given in the official citation, form most interesting
reading :

Frank O' D. Hunter, first lieutenant, Air Service, pilot,
103d Aero Squadron. For extraordinary heroism in action
in the region of Ypres, Belgium, June 22, 191 8, Lieutenant
Hunter, while on patrol, alone attacked two enemy biplanes,
destroying one and forcing the other to retire. In the course
of the combat he was wounded in the forehead. Despite his
injuries he succeeded in returning his damaged plane to his
own aerodrome.

A bronze oakleaf, for extraordinary heroism in action in
the region of Champey, France, September 13, 191 8. He,
accompanied by one other 'plane, attacked an enemy patrol
of six 'planes. Despite numerical superiority and in a decisive
combat, he destroyed one enemy 'plane and, with the aid of
his companion, forced the others within their own lines.

A bronze oakleaf, for extraordinary heroism in action near
Verneville, France, September 17, 1918. Leading a patrol of
three 'planes, he attacked an enemy formation of eight 'planes.
Although outnumbered, they succeeded in bringing down four
of the enemy. Lieutenant Hunter accounted for two of these.

A bronze oakleaf, for extraordinary heroism in action in
the region of Liny-devant-Dun, France. While separated
from his patrol he observed an allied patrol of seven 'planes
(Breguets) hard pressed by an enemy formation of ten 'planes
(Fokker type). He attached two of the enemy that were
harassing a single Breguet and in a decisive fight destroyed
one of them. Meanwhile five enemy 'planes approached and


(I^tbersf, ©ecorations;, anb Snsfignia

concentrated their fire upon him. Undaunted by their superi-
ority, he attacked and brought down a vSecond 'plane.

A bronze oakleaf, for extraordinary heroism in action in
the region of Bantheville, France. While on patrol he en-
countered an enemy formation of six monoplanes. He im-
mediately attacked and destroyed one enemy 'plane and forced
the others to disperse in confusion.

It will be noticed that the expression "oakleaf" is used
in this citation instead of "oakleaf cluster," this because
the original design was an oakleaf, but it was subject to
such criticism from an artistic standpoint that the present
design, which is a true cluster of oakleaves and acorns was

It must not be inferred from these two citations that
awards of the cluster are always given in the same order
as the original award. That happened in these particular
cases but it is the exception rather than the rule. The
following is a citation for the award of a cluster to the
well-known Captain Rickenbacker :

Edward V. Rickenbacker, captain, 94th Aero Squadron,
Air Service. In addition to the distinguished-service cross
and bronze oakleaf heretofore awarded Captain Ricken-
backer, he is awarded an oakleaf cluster for the following act
of extraordinary heroism in action near Billy, France, Septem-
ber 26, 1918: While on voluntary patrol over the lines he
attacked seven. enemy 'planes (five type Fokker, protecting
two type Halberstadt). Disregarding the odds against him,
he dived on them and shot down one of the Fokkers out of
control. He then attacked one of the Halberstadts and sent
it down also.

This decoration also can be awarded to women, as
shown by the following:


American ©ecoratiottfl;

By direction of the President, the distinguished-service
cross was awarded February 27, 1919, to Miss Beatrice
MacDonald, Reserve nurse, Army Nurse Corps, for extraor-
dinary heroism while on duty with the surgical team at the
British Casualty Clearing Station No. 61, British Area,
France. During a German night air raid she continued at
her post of duty caring for the sick and wounded until seri-
ously wounded by a German bomb, thereby losing one eye.

The Distinguished Service Cross cannot be given for
any act which occurred more than three years before the
date of the award, with two exceptions; first, when a
Medal of Honor was recommended but disapproved;
second, when the individual was cited in orders for heroism
in action. Cases coming under these two exceptions can
be considered and settled on their merits without regard
to the length of time that may have elapsed, and a few
awards of crosses have been made for heroism in the
Philippine Insurrection.

A little over 5200 crosses were awarded for services in
the World War, and 95 oakleaf clusters, these latter being
in lieu of crosses for subsequent awards. Considering the
question of rank the observations made with regard to
the Medal of Honor are confirmed by this decoration as
72% went to men, 22% to captains and lieutenants, and
only 6% to the higher officers. An analysis of the awards
to arms of the service again shows the infantry far ahead of
all others, 80% being credited to that branch, then came
the Medical Corps with 6%, then the Air Service with
5%, the Artillery 4%, Engineers 3%, the remaining 2%
being divided among all other branches.

The Second Division received 673 crosses and thirteen


clusters. Then came in order the First, Third, Thirtieth,
Twenty-sixth, Thirty-second, Forty-second, and Seventy-
seventh divisions. These eight divisions all received over
200 crosses each. 123 crosses and two clusters went to

An analysis of the clusters shows a great divergence from
that of the crosses, particularly in regard to the distribution
between the different arms as the following table shows :

Air Service 47

Infantry (including 8 to Marines) 35

Tank Corps 5

Medical Corps 2

Field Artillery 2

Signal Corps 2

Brigadier General i

Chaplain I

Total 95

Not only is the Air Service proportion very large, but
six of the others were earned by men detailed with the
Air Service as Observers. This is still further exemplified
by the following list of all those who were awarded more
than one cluster:

Name Arm of Service Number

Capt. E. V. Rickenbacker Air Service 7

1st Lieut. F. O'D. Hunter Air Service 4

1st Lieut. Campbell Douglas Air Service 4

1st Lieut. Reed M. Chambers Air Service 3

1st Lieut. M. K. Guthrie Air Service 2

1st Lieut. R. A. O'Neill Air Service 2

Col. J. H. Parker I02d Infantry 2

2d Lieut. G. A. Preston Field Artillery 2

(Observer with Air Service.)

Mmtxicm ©ecorationjJ

Navy Cross

This decoration was authorized by the same law that
established the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and
it can be awarded to any one in the Naval service who
distinguishes himself by extraordinary heroism or by dis-
tinguished service not justifying the award of the Medal
of Honor or of the Distinguished Service Medal.

The difference between this and the Distinguished
Service Cross of the Army should be noted. The Army
decoration is given only for heroism in war, while the Navy
Cross is much broader in scope and in addition to heroism
it includes any other distinguished service, not only in
time of war but also in peace, in the theatre of hostilities
and elsewhere. When given for heroism it is the equiva-
lent of the Distinguished Service Cross of the Army.
When given for other services it is a junior Distinguished
Service Medal, and there is no corresponding decoration
in the Army now that the Certificate of Merit has been
abolished, although the citation certificate issued by Gen-
eral Pershing partly takes its place.

The three naval decorations cover the whole possible
gamut of services which should be rewarded; the Medal
of Honor being appropriate for the most extraordinary
heroism in action, the Distinguished Service Medal for
specially distinguished service in a "duty of great respon-
sibility," and the Navy Cross for any meritorious service,
of whatever character, of a lesser degree.

The Cross was designed by Mr. J. E. Fraser, the sculp-
tor of New York City. The two sides are the same,


except that the obverse shows a caravel of the time of
Columbus in the centre, on the reverse are crossed anchors
and the letters "U.S.N." (Plate 9).

The Certificate of Merit

With the exception of General Washington's heart pre-
viously mentioned, this was our oldest reward for meri-
torious services, having been established by Act of Cong-
ress, March 3, 1847. That act provided that when a
private distinguished himself in the service the President
could grant him a certificate of merit, which entitled him
to $2 per month additional pay. Non-commissioned
officers who distinguished themselves were to receive the
brevet rank of Second Lieutenant. The provision regard-
ing the non-commissioned officers was apparently never put
in force and it was changed in 1854 to give them the same
additional pay as the private, but the certificate itself was
not authorized for them until 1891, when it was extended
to include all enlisted men. Officers have never been eli-
gible for this, neither was the Navy ever included.

In its early days the certificate was signed by the Presi-
dent himself, and the first one was awarded to Private
John R. Scott, Company B, Second Dragoons, for heroism
at the battle of Cerro Gordo in the Mexican War. A
total of 545 were given for services in that war, and it is a
reasonable inference that a number of these would have^
received the Medal of Honor instead of the certificate
had that decoration been in existence at that time.

This was not a decoration in the proper sense of the
word until 1905 when a medal was designed by Frank


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Millet the artist (who went down with the Titanic) , to be
worn by the holders of the certificate to indicate possession
thereof, and in this it differed from all our other decora-
tions, the certificate being the real reward and the medal
only the visible evidence thereof. The design of the ob-
verse is Roman in character, the eagle being taken from
the standard of a legion (Plate 6).

Any specially meritorious services rendered by an en-
listed man made him eligible for this certificate, whether it
was an act of gallantry in action not justifying the award
of the Medal of Honor or a deed of heroism in time of
peace, such as saving life or property from fire, the sea, or
floods at the risk of his life, or for any other service ren-
dered which, in the judgment of the President, deserved a
reward . 1 1 therefore corresponded very closely to the N avy
Cross except that it was confined entirely to the men.

In July, 191 8, Congress discontinued the Certificate of
Merit. It is a pity that it should have been found neces-
sary to do away with our oldest reward, one which had
been in use for seventy-one years and was associated with
the Mexican, Civil, and Spanish wars, with the Indian
campaigns and the Philippine Insurrection, particularly
as none of the new decorations entirely fill its place, as
can be seen by an examination of their requirements
given in the previous sections, as compared with those of
the Certificate of Merit.

The Citation Star

Every officer or enlisted man who is cited in orders for
gallantry in action, under conditions not warranting the
5 65

©rberiSf, ©ecorationiEf, anb Snsfignia

award of a Medal of Honor or a Distinguished Service
Cross, is entitled to wear a silver star, j\ inch in diame-
ter, on the ribbon of the medal for the campaign in which
the citation was given, and on the corresponding service
ribbon. The title page shows a citation star on the ribbon
of the Victory medal and on Plate 7 is a Victory service
ribbon with a citation star. No other nation has anything
of this nature, so it is a unique feature in decorations and
distinctly American in its origin. It was instituted in
July, 1 91 8, by Act of Congress.

The conditions should be clearly understood. In the
first place the citation must be in orders issued from the
headquarters of a force commanded by a general officer,
or which is the appropriate command of a general officer.

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Online LibraryRobert E. WyllieOrders, decorations and insignia, military and civil; with the history and romance of their origin and a full description of each → online text (page 5 of 19)