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Air Force Medals and Ribbons


National Defense Service Medal


This medal (pictured below) was authorized by Executive Order 10448, April 22, 1953, and amended by Executive Order 11256, Jan. 11, 1966. It is awarded for honorable active military service as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States including the Coast Guard, between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954, (Korean War Period), between Jan. 1, 1961 and Aug. 14, 1974, (Vietnam War Period), and 2 Aug 90 to 30 Nov 95 (Desert Shield/Storm Period).

Note: See recent update for award criteria as a result of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The medal was designed by the Army of Heraldic Section. The obverse shows the American bald eagle, perched on a sword and palm. Above this , in a semicircle, is the inscription "National Defense." The reverse shows a shield, as it appears in the Great Scal of the United States; it is half encircled below with an oak leaf to left an laurel spray to the right, knotted in the center.

The ribbon has a wide yellow stripe in the center, flanked by narrow stripes of red, white, blue, white, wide red stripes.

Service members who earned the medal during the first qualifying period and who again became entitled to the medal wear a bronze star on the ribbon to denote the second award of the medal.


Graphics & Information Courtesy of United States Air Force

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