World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
The Defense Distinguished Service Medal is a United States military award, presented for exceptionally distinguished performance of duty contributing to the national security or defense of the United States. The medal was created on July 9, 1970, by President Richard Nixon in Executive Order 11545; the Defense Distinguished Service Medal is the United States's highest non-combat related military award and it is the highest joint service decoration. The Defense Distinguished Service Medal is awarded; such responsibilities deserving of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal are held by the most senior officers such as the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chiefs and Vice Chiefs of the Services, Commanders and Deputy Commanders of the Combatant Commands, the Director of the Joint Staff etc. whose duties bring them into direct contact with the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, other senior government officials. In addition, the medal may be awarded to other service members whose direct and individual contributions to national security or national defense are recognized as being so exceptional in scope and value as to be equivalent to contributions associated with positions encompassing broader responsibilities.
This decoration takes precedence over the Distinguished Service Medals of the separate services and is not to be awarded to any individual for a period of service for which an Army, Air Force or Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal is awarded. The medal is gold in color and on the obverse it features a medium blue enameled pentagon. Superimposed on this is an American bald eagle with wings outspread facing left grasping three crossed arrows in its talons and on its breast is a shield of the United States; the pentagon and eagle are enclosed within a gold pieced circle consisting, in the upper half of 13 five-pointed stars and in the lower half, a wreath of laurel on the left and olive on the right. At the top is a suspender of five graduated gold rays; the reverse of the medal has the inscription "For Distinguished Service" at the top in raised letters, within the pentagon the inscription "From The Secretary of Defense To," all in raised letters. Additional awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal 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. The medal is not the same as the Meritorious Service Medal, a separate federal military decoration. Both have identical award criteria, but the DMSM is awarded to service members assigned to joint, multi-service organizations, while the MSM is awarded to service members in traditional military units within their respective individual services; the medal was first created on 3 November 1977 by President Jimmy Carter under Executive Order 12019 to recognize non-combat meritorious achievement or service while serving in a joint assignment.
The recognized service is for a period of time greater than 12 months, encompassing a recipients entire joint assignment, including extensions. The required achievement or service, is of a lesser degree than that required for award of the Defense Superior Service Medal, but must have been accomplished with distinction. A joint assignment "connotes activities, operations, or organizations in which elements of more than one Armed Forces of the United States, as reflected in joint manpower documents or the Joint Duty Assignment List, perform joint missions under the auspices of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Service members assigned to or attached to a Joint Task Force as individuals, not members of a specific military service's unit, can be eligible for the DMSM. Members of service specific units are eligible for awards of personal decorations from their parent service. Personnel serving with jointly manned staffs within Allied Command Europe, Allied Command Atlantic, the NATO Military Committee, military agencies associated with functions of the military or other joint activities as may be designated are included.
In 2014, President Barack Obama with Executive Order 13666 extended eligibility of the DMSM to include any member of the armed forces of a friendly foreign nation, thus authorizing recognition of those NATO, Allied and Coalition officers and senior enlisted personnel assigned to/embedded in the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands and associated Joint Task Forces. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter; the obverse design consists of a circular wreath of laurel leaves tied with a ribbon at base. In the center is a pentagon shape which overlaps the wreath. Superimposed over the pentagon is an eagle with wings upraised standing at the base of the pentagon; the eagle is symbolic of the United States while the pentagon shape alludes to the Department of Defense, the laurel wreath represents achievement. The reverse of the medal bears the inscription, Defense Meritorious Service in three horizontal lines while around the bottom are the words, United States of America.
In between the inscriptions is space for engraving the name of the recipient. The ribbon for the medal is 1 3⁄8 inches in width composed of the following vertical stripes: White 1⁄16 inch, Crimson 1⁄4 inch, White 7⁄32 inch, Bluebird 1⁄16 inch, White 1⁄16 inch, Bluebird 1⁄16 inch, White 1⁄16 inch, Bluebird 1⁄16 inch, White 7⁄32 inch, Crimson 1⁄4 inch, White 1⁄16 inch; the colors and white, are duplicates of the colors of the Legion of Merit ribbon. The stripes of blue is the color associated with the Department of Defense. Additional awards of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal are denoted by bronze oak leaf clusters, with a silver oak leaf cluster representing six awards; as a joint award, oak leaf clusters traditionally associated with Army and Air Force awards are used for multiple awards of the DMSM to Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel. These oak leaf clusters are attached to the service ribbons. Awards and decorations of the United States military
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U. S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U. S. military members – the only earlier award being the obsolete Fidelity Medallion. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New York; the original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington – the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army – by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782. The Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers by Gen. George Washington himself. General Washington authorized his subordinate officers to issue Badges of Merit as appropriate. From on, as its legend grew, so did its appearance. Although never abolished, the award of the badge was not proposed again until after World War I.
On October 10, 1927, Army Chief of Staff General Charles Pelot Summerall directed that a draft bill be sent to Congress "to revive the Badge of Military Merit". The bill was withdrawn and action on the case ceased January 3, 1928, but the office of the Adjutant General was instructed to file all materials collected for possible future use. A number of private interests sought to have the medal re-instituted in the Army. On January 7, 1931, Summerall's successor, General Douglas MacArthur, confidentially reopened work on a new design, involving the Washington Commission of Fine Arts. Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General, was named to redesign the newly revived medal, which became known as the Purple Heart. Using general specifications provided to her, Will created the design sketch for the present medal of the Purple Heart; the new design, which exhibits a bust and profile of George Washington, was issued on the bicentennial of Washington's birth.
Will's obituary, in the edition of February 8, 1975 of The Washington Post newspaper, reflects her many contributions to military heraldry. The Commission of Fine Arts solicited plaster models from three leading sculptors for the medal, selecting that of John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint in May 1931. By Executive Order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was revived on the 200th Anniversary of George Washington's birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by War Department General Order No. 3, dated February 22, 1932. The criteria were announced in a War Department circular dated February 22, 1932, authorized award to soldiers, upon their request, awarded the Meritorious Service Citation Certificate, Army Wound Ribbon, or were authorized to wear Wound Chevrons subsequent to April 5, 1917, the day before the United States entered World War I; the first Purple Heart was awarded to MacArthur. During the early period of American involvement in World War II, the Purple Heart was awarded both for wounds received in action against the enemy and for meritorious performance of duty.
With the establishment of the Legion of Merit, by an Act of Congress, the practice of awarding the Purple Heart for meritorious service was discontinued. By Executive Order 9277, dated December 3, 1942, the decoration was applied to all services; this executive order authorized the award only for wounds received. For both military and civilian personnel during the World War II era, to meet eligibility for the Purple Heart, AR 600-45, dated September 22, 1943, May 3, 1944, required identification of circumstances. After the award was re-authorized in 1932 some U. S. Army wounded from conflicts prior to the first World War applied for, were awarded, the Purple Heart: "...veterans of the Civil War and Indian Wars, as well as the Spanish–American War, China Relief Expedition, Philippine Insurrection were awarded the Purple Heart. This is because the original regulations governing the award of the Purple Heart, published by the Army in 1932, provided that any soldier, wounded in any conflict involving U.
S. Army personnel might apply for the new medal. There were but two requirements: the applicant had to be alive at the time of application and he had to prove that he had received a wound that necessitated treatment by a medical officer."Subject to approval of the Secretary of Defense, Executive Order 10409, dated February 12, 1952, revised authorizations to include the Service Secretaries. Dated April 25, 1962, Executive Order 11016, included provisions for posthumous award of the Purple Heart. Dated February 23, 1984, Executive Order 12464, authorized award of the Purple Heart as a result of terrorist attacks, or while serving as part of a peacekeeping force, subsequent to March 28, 1973. On June 13, 1985, the Senate approved an amendment to the 1985 Defense Authorization Bill, which changed the precedence of the Purple Heart award, from above the Good Conduct Medal to above the Meritorious Service Medals. Public Law 99-145 authorized the award for wounds received as a result of friendly fire.
Public Law 104-106 expanded the eligibility date, authorizing award of the Purple Heart to a former prisoner of war, wounded after April 25, 1962. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 changed the criteria to delete authorization for award of the Purple Heart to any non-military U. S. national s
The Commendation Medal is a mid-level United States military decoration, 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. 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 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.
The Commendation Medal was only a service ribbon and was first awarded by the U. S. Navy and U. S. Coast Guard in 1943. An Army Commendation Ribbon followed in 1945, in 1949, the Navy, Coast Guard, Army Commendation ribbons were renamed the "Commendation Ribbon with Metal Pendant". By 1960, the Commendation Ribbons had been authorized as full medals and were subsequently referred to as Commendation Medals. Additional awards of the Army and Air Force Commendation Medals are denoted by bronze and silver oak leaf clusters; the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Coast Guard Commendation Medal are authorized gold and silver 5/16 inch stars to denote additional awards. The Operational Distinguishing Device is authorized for wear on the Coast Guard Commendation Medal upon approval of the awarding authority. Order of Precedence is following the Air Medal but before the Prisoner of War Medal and all campaign medals; each of the military services awards separate Achievement Medals which are below the Commendation Medals in precedence.
The Joint Service Commendation Medal was authorized on 25 June 1963 and is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, after 1 January 1963, distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement or service in a joint duty capacity. This award is intended for senior service on a joint military staff and is senior in precedence to service-specific Commendation Medals; as such, it is worn above the service Commendation Medals on a military uniform. DevicesOak leaf cluster "V" Device The Army Commendation Medal is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States other than General Officers who, while serving in any capacity with the U. S. Army after December 6, 1941, distinguished themselves by heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service; the medal may be awarded to a member of another branch of the U. S. Armed Forces or of a friendly foreign nation who, after June 1, 1962, distinguishes themselves by an act of heroism, extraordinary achievement, or significant meritorious service, of mutual benefit to the friendly nation and the United States.
Criteria and appearanceThe Army Commendation Medal is awarded to American and foreign military personnel in the grade of O-6 and below who have performed noteworthy service in any capacity with the United States Army. Qualifying service for the award of the medal can be for distinctive meritorious achievement and service, acts of courage involving no voluntary risk of life, or sustained meritorious performance of duty. Approval of the award must be made by an officer in the grade of higher; the medallion of the Army Commendation Medal is a bronze hexagon, 13⁄8 inches wide. On the medallion is an American bald eagle with wings spread horizontally, grasping in its talons three crossed arrows. On its breast is a shield paly of thirteen pieces and a chief; the reverse bears a panel for naming between the words FOR MILITARY above and MERIT below, all placed above a laurel sprig. The ribbon is 13⁄8 inches wide of myrtle green, it is edged in white and in the center are five thin white stripes spaced apart.
DevicesOak leaf cluster "V" Device "C" Device "R" Device The U. S. Air Force began issuing its own Air Force Commendation Medal in 1958 with additional awards denoted by oak leaf clusters. Prior to this time, USAF recipients received the Army Commendation Medal, it was not until 1996. On January 7, 2016, the "C" device and "R" device was authorized on the Air Force Commendation Medal as well. For USAF enlisted personnel, the Air Force Commendation Medal is worth three points under the Air Force enlisted promotion system. Criteria and appearanceThe Air Force Commendation Medal is awarded to both American and foreign military personnel of any service branch in the U. S. military grade of O-6 and below
Chief of the National Guard Bureau
The Chief of the National Guard Bureau is the highest-ranking officer of the United States National Guard and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Chief of the National Guard Bureau is a federally recognized commissioned officer who has served at least 10 years of federally recognized active duty in any of the Reserves of the Army or Air Force, either from the United States Army Reserve, the Army National Guard of the United States, the United States Air Force Reserve or the Air National Guard of the United States; the Chief is nominated for appointment by the President from any eligible National Guard officers holding the rank of major general or above, who meets the requirements for the position as determined by defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under the advice and/or recommendation from their respective state governors and their service secretary. The nominee must be confirmed via majority vote from the Senate; the Chief serves a four-year term of office at the pleasure of the President.
By statute, the Chief is appointed as a four-star general in the Army or Air Force, serving as a reserve officer on active duty. In 1908, the United States Army created the Militia Bureau to oversee training and readiness for the National Guard as part of implementing the Militia Act of 1903. From 1908 to 1911, Erasmus M. Weaver Jr. served as head of the Army's Militia Bureau, the first person to hold the position. The National Defense Act of 1920 included a provision that the Chief of the Militia Bureau be a National Guard officer. In 1921 Pennsylvania National Guard officer George C. Rickards became the first Guardsman to serve as Chief, he held the post until his 1925 retirement. In September 1947, the Air National Guard was created, the positions of Chief the Army Division Chief and Chief of the Air Division were established, with the directors subordinate to the NGB Chief. In 1953, Air National Guard Director Earl T. Ricks served as acting Chief of the National Guard Bureau, making him the first Air Guard officer to hold the chief's position.
In the mid-1970s, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau position was upgraded from major general to lieutenant general, La Vern E. Weber became the first NGB chief to wear three stars. In 2009, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau Craig McKinley was granted the rank of full general, the first bureau chief to hold that rank; the position became the seventh member of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2012 with third expansion of the Joint Chiefs in the 2012 defense bill signed on 31 December 2011. McKinley was bureau chief at that time; the sitting Joint Chiefs had opposed the addition of another member, but President Obama promised in his 2008 campaign to do so. On 30 June 2016, Lieutenant General Joseph L. Lengyel, the Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau, was confirmed by the United States Senate for appointment as CNGB and promotion to General, he was completed a transfer of authority ceremony with his predecessor on 2 August. This positional flag for the Chief of the National Guard Bureau was used from 1998 to 2008.
The dark blue represented the Army National Guard, the light blue represented the Air National Guard. The badge in the center is the branch insignia of the National Guard Bureau; the two triangles represent the Air National Guard. The version of the flag which appears in the information box at the top of the page was adopted in 2008 when the position of Chief of the National Guard Bureau was upgraded to full General. Senior Enlisted Advisor for the National Guard Bureau Media related to Chiefs of the National Guard Bureau at Wikimedia Commons Biography, Frank J. Grass
The Achievement Medal is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces. The Achievement Medal was first proposed as a means to recognize the contributions of junior officers and enlisted personnel who were not eligible to receive the higher Commendation Medal or the Meritorious Service Medal; each military service issues its own version of the Achievement Medal, with a fifth version authorized by the U. S. Department of Defense for joint military activity; the Achievement Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service not of a nature that would otherwise warrant awarding the Commendation Medal. Award authority rests with local commanders, granting a broad discretion of when and for what action the Achievement Medal may be awarded; the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, is the United States Navy and U. S. Marine Corps' version of the Achievement Medal; the U. S. Navy was the first branch of the U. S. Armed Forces to award such a medal, doing so in 1961, when it was dubbed the “Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement Medal”.
This title was shortened in 1967 to the "Navy Achievement Medal". On 19 August 1994, to recognize those of the United States Marine Corps who had received the Navy Achievement Medal, the name of the decoration was changed to the "Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal"; the award is referred to in shorthand speech as a "NAM". From its inception in the early 1960s to 2002, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal could not be approved by the commanding officers of ships, aviation squadron, or shore activities who held the rank of Commander. Awards for crewmembers had to be submitted to the Commodore or Air Wing Commander or the first appropriate O-6 in the chain of command for approval, who signed the award and returned it; this led to a lower awarding rate when compared to similar size units in the Army or Air Force awarding their own achievement medals considering that those services did not establish their respective achievement medals until the 1980s. Since 2002 the commanding officers of aviation squadrons and ships have had the authority to award NAMs without submission to higher authority.
For the Army, battalion commanders (or the first O-5 in a soldier's chain of command for the Army Achievement Medal. The United States Coast Guard created its own Achievement Medal in 1967. S. Army and U. S. Air Force issued their own versions of the award with the Army Achievement Medal in 1981 and Air Force Achievement Medal in 1980. Effective 11 September 2001, the Army Achievement Medal may be awarded in a combat area. Since this change over sixty thousand Army Achievement Medals have been awarded in theaters of operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan; the Joint Service Achievement Medal was created in 1983. This award was considered a Department of Defense decoration senior to the service department Achievement Medals; the following devices may be authorized to be worn on the following achievement medals suspension ribbon and service ribbon: All Achievement Medals, "C" device, which signifies meritorious performance "under combat conditions", after January 2016 Army Achievement Medal, for additional awards - oak leaf clusters Air Force Achievement Medal, for additional awards - oak leaf clusters Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, for additional awards - 5/16 inch stars Coast Guard Achievement Medal, for additional awards - 5/16 inch stars Joint Service Achievement Medal, for additional awards - oak leaf clusters Coast Guard Achievement Medal - Operational Distinguishing Device Coast Guard Achievement Medal - Combat Distinguishing Device The following ribbon devices were authorized in the past but have now been discontinued: Air Force Achievement Medal - "V" Device, until December 2016 Army Achievement Medal - "V" Device, until December 2016 Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal - Combat Distinguishing Device, until December 2016 Awards and decorations of the United States government Awards and decorations of the United States military Awards and decorations of the United States Coast Guard Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Citation Examples HRC Joint Awards FAQ