Air Force Medals and Ribbons
This decoration, one of several Air Force awards established by Congress on July 6, 1960, takes the place of the Soldier's Medal for Air Force personnel. It is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly nation who, while serving in any capacity with the United States Air Force after the date of the award's authorization, shall have distinguished himself or herself by a heroic act, usually at the voluntary risk of his or her life but not involving actual combat.
This medal (pictured below) was designed and sculpted by Thomas Hudson Jones of the Institute of Heraldry. On the obverse of the circular medal is the figure of the Greek god Hermes, son of Zeus, resting on one knee. He has just released from his open hands a falcon, shown rising into flight. Within the raised rim of the medal, is the inscription "Airman's Medal" in raised letters. The reverse of the medal, has a raised outer edge and bears the inscription, "For Valor" above a space for the recipient's name which is within a stylized laurel wreath open at the top and tied at the bottom.
The Airman's Medal is unique in that its shape does not follow the octagonal shape of its counterparts, the Soldier's Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Coast Guard Medal. It had been established practice heretofore to design military decorations with a distinctive shape, so that they would not be confused at a distance with service or campaign medals, which are always circular in shape. The reason for this is because the design was originally approved for use as The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal. The ribbon is based on that of the soldier's Medal but using different colors. In the center are alternating thin stripes of gold and dark blue, (seven gold and six dark blue) bordered at the edges with wide stripes of pale (sky) blue.