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Legion of Merit
Us legion of merit legionnaire.png
Awarded by United States Department of Defense
Type Medal
Awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements
Status Currently awarded
Statistics
First awarded 1942
Precedence
Next (higher) Defense Superior Service Medal
Next (lower) Distinguished Flying Cross
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
ribbon

The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. The decoration is issued both to United States military personnel and to military and political figures of foreign governments. The Legion of Merit is one of only two United States military decorations to be issued as a neck order (the other being the Medal of Honor) and the only United States decoration which may be issued in award degrees (much like an order of chivalry or certain Orders of Merit).[1][2]

The Legion of Merit is sixth in the order of precedence of U.S. military decorations, and is worn after the Defense Superior Service Medal and before the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Contents

Criteria

  • The degrees of Chief Commander, Commander, Officer, and Legionnaire are awarded only to members of armed forces of foreign nations under the criteria outlined in US Army Regulation 672-7 and is based on the relative rank or position of the recipient as follows:
  1. Chief Commander: Chief of State or Head of Government. However this degree has been awarded by President Roosevelt to some Allied World War II theatre commanders usually of joint amphibious landings or invasions. The President appeared to have this power under Executive Order 9260 of 29 October 1942 paragraph 3b[3].
  2. Commander: Equivalent of a U.S. military Chief of Staff or higher position but not to Chief of State.
  3. Officer: General or Flag Officer below the equivalent of a U.S. military Chief of Staff; Colonel or equivalent rank for service in assignments equivalent to those normally held by a General or Flag Officer in U.S. military service; or Military Attaches.
  4. Legionnaire: All recipients not included above.
  • When the Legion of Merit is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States it is awarded without reference to degree. The criteria are "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements". Additional awards of the Legion of Merit are denoted by oak leaf clusters, in the Army and Air Force, and by award stars in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The sea services also permit the wearing of the Valor device on the Legion of Merit, while the Army and Air Force do not.
  • The performance must have been such as to merit recognition of key individuals for service rendered in a clearly exceptional manner.
  • Performance of duties normal to the grade, branch, specialty or assignment, and experience of an individual is not an adequate basis for this award.
  • For service not related to actual war the term “key individual” applies to a narrower range of positions than in time of war and requires evidence of significant achievement.
  • In peacetime, service should be in the nature of a special requirement or of an extremely difficult duty performed in an unprecedented and clearly exceptional manner.
  • However, justification of the award may accrue by virtue of exceptionally meritorious service in a succession of important positions.
  • The degrees and the design of the decoration were clearly influenced by the French Légion d'honneur.

Legal

Except when authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, any false written or verbal claim to the decoration or medal or any wear, purchase, attempt to purchase, solicitation for purchase, mailing, shipping, import, export, manufacture, sale, attempt to sell, advertising for sale, trade, or barter of the decoration or medal authorized for wear by authorized military members or veterans is a federal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.[4]

History

Although recommendations for creation of a Meritorious Service Medal were initiated as early as September 1937, no formal action was taken toward approval.

In a letter to the Quartermaster General (QMG) dated 24 December 1941, the Adjutant General formally requested action be initiated to create a Meritorious Service Medal and provide designs in the event the decoration was established. Proposed designs prepared by Bailey, Banks, and Biddle and the Office of the Quartermaster General were provided to Assistant Chief of Staff (G1) (Colonel Heard) by the QMG on 5 January 1942.

The Assistant Chief of Staff (G1) (BG Hilldring), in a response to the QMG on 3 April 1942, indicated the Secretary of War approved the design recommended by the QMG. The design of the Legion of Merit (change of name) would be ready for issue immediately after legislation authorizing it was enacted into law.

An Act of Congress (Public Law 671—77th Congress, Chapter 508, 2d Session) on 20 July 1942, established the Legion of Merit and provided that the medal "shall have suitable appurtenances and devices and not more than four degrees, and which the President, under such rules and regulations as he shall prescribe, may award to

(a) personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States and of the Government of the Commonwealth Philippines and
(b) personnel of the armed forces of friendly foreign nations who, since the proclamation of an emergency by the President on 1939-09-08, shall have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services."

The medal was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 40, dated 5 August 1942. Executive Order 9260, dated 29 October 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established the rules for the Legion of Merit and required the President's approval for the award. However, in 1943, at the request of General George C. Marshall, approval authority for U.S. personnel was delegated to the War Department.

Executive Order 10600, dated 15 March 1955, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, revised approval authority. Current provisions are contained in Title 10, United States Code 1121.

The reverse of the medal has the motto taken from the Great Seal of the United States "ANNUIT COEPTIS" (He [God] Has Favored Our Undertakings) and the date "MDCCLXXXII" (1782) which is the date of America's first decoration, the Badge of Military Merit, now known as the Purple Heart. The ribbon design also follows the pattern of the Purple Heart ribbon.

Notable recipients

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Chief Commander

Nationality

Rank

Name

Force

Date

Comments

United Kingdom Lieutenant-General Kenneth A.N. Anderson, CB, MC British Army 18 June 1943
Republic of China Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek Chinese Armed Forces July 1943
United Kingdom General Bernard Law Montgomery, KCB, DSO British Army 6 August 1943
United Kingdom Temporary Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur William Tedder, GCB Royal Air Force 27 August 1943
Soviet Union Marshal of the Soviet Union Aleksandr Mikhajlovich Vasilevskij Red Army 22 June 1944
Soviet Union Chief Marshal Of Aviation Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Novikov Military Air Forces 22 June 1944
United Kingdom Rear-Admiral Sir Victor Crutchley VC, KCB, DSC Royal Navy September 1944
United Kingdom Air Marshal Arthur Travers Harris, OBE, AFC Royal Air Force 17 October 1944
United Kingdom King George VI of the United Kingdom British Armed Forces 1945
United Kingdom Air Chief Marshal William Sholto Douglas, GCB, MC, DFC Royal Air Force
United Kingdom First Sea Lord Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham GCB, DSO Royal Navy
United Kingdom Admiral Sir John Henry Dacres Cunningham KCB Royal Navy For gallant and distinguished service during the invasion operations in Northern Italy and the South of France.
United Kingdom Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB, KBE, MVO Royal Navy 15 January 1945 For gallant and distinguished service whilst in command of the invasion operations on Normandy.
United Kingdom Acting Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham KCB, DSO, MC, DFC, AFC Royal Air Force
Flag of Iraq 1924.svg Commander-In-Chief Crown Prince Abd al-Ilāh Iraqi Armed Forces 1 June 1945
United Kingdom Vice Admiral Sir Philip Vian KBE, CMG Royal Navy 17 July 1945
Soviet Union Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgij Zhukov Red Army 1945
Soviet Union Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Stepanovich Konev Red Army 1945
Soviet Union Marshal of the Soviet Union Leonid Aleksandrovich Govorov Red Army
Soviet Union Army General Stanislav Giljarovich Poplavskij Red Army
Soviet Union Marshal of the Soviet Union Kirill Afanasievich Meretskov Red Army
Soviet Union Marshal of the Soviet Union Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovskij Red Army
Soviet Union General Andrey Ivanovich Yeryomenko Red Army
Romania King Michael I of Romania Romanian Armed Forces 1945
France General Charles De Gaulle French Armed Forces 24 August 1945
Ethiopia Emperor Haile Selassie Ethiopian Armed Forces 1945
United Kingdom Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Blake KCB, DSO Royal Navy 6 November 1945
Norway Chief of Defence of Norway Crown Prince Olav Norwegian Armed Forces 23 November 1945 "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services from August 1944 to July 1945"
Saudi Arabia Flag Variant (1938).svg King Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdur Rahman al Faisal Al Saud Saudi Arabian Armed Forces 18 February 1947
Mexico President Miguel Aleman Mexican Armed Forces 1 May 1947
State Flag of Iran (1925).svg Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi Iranian Armed Forces 7 October 1947
Flag of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.svg General Dragoljub Mihailović Yugoslav Royal Army 29 March 1948
United Kingdom General Sir William Slim, GBE, KCB, DSO, MC, ADC British Army 1948
Australia Prime Minister The Rt Hon. Robert Menzies, KC, MP Australian Armed Forces 1950
India Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa Indian Army 1950
Flag of Greece (1828-1978).svg King Paul I Greek Armed Forces 28 October 1953
Turkey President Celal Bayar Turkish Armed Forces 27 January 1954
Thailand Field Marshal Luang Plaek Pibulsonggram Thai Royal Army 2 May 1955
Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) Thai Armed Forces 28 June 1960
Korea General Kim Yong-Bae Republic Of Korea Army 14 February 1968 For service April 1965 to March 1966. Revoked in commander degree and replaced with chief commander.
Korea Minister Kim Sung-Eun Republic Of Korea 9 December 1968 For service March 1963 to June 1966
Turkey President Kenan Evren Turkish Armed Forces 27 June 1988
Germany General Wolfgang Schneiderhan Bundeswehr
Turkey General Hilmi Özkök Turkish Armed Forces 2002
Pakistan Major General Tariq Khan Pakistan Army 9 December 2007
Israel General Gabi Ashkenazi Israeli Defence Forces 24 July 2008
Pakistan General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Pakistani Army 01 January 2009
Iraq General Babaker Shawkat B. Zebari Iraqi Army 07 January 2010

Commander

Nationality

Rank

Name

Force

Date

Comments

Brazil Brigadier General Amaro Soares Bittencourt Brazilian Army 1942 First recipient of this medal in any degree.
Admiral Sir Gerald Charles Dickens KCVO, CB, CMG Royal Navy 1945 WWII Commander
New Zealand Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, KCB, KBE, CMG, DSO 2nd New Zealand Division, New Zealand Military Forces 2 August 1945
Canada Governor General Georges Vanier 1946
Flaga PPP.svg General Stefan Pawel Rowecki Armia Krajowa 9 August 1984 Awarded by Ronald Reagan posthumously forty years and one week after his death at the hands of the Gestapo.
France General Michel Roquejeoffre French Army 14 July 1991
United Kingdom General Sir Peter de la Billière KCB, KBE, DSO, MC & bar British Forces to the Middle East during Gulf War I 14 July 1991
Canada General GAlfred John Gardyne Drummond de Chastelain, OC, CMM, CH, CD 1995 In 1999, he was made a Companion of Honour by HM The Queen. He is the former Chief of the Defence Staff (Canada) for the Canadian Forces and he is the Chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning since November 1995 for the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Turkey Commander-in-Chief Mehmet Yaşar Büyükanıt Turkish Armed Forces 12 December 2005
Japan General Toshio Tamogami Air Self-Defense Force 19 August 2008 [5]
Colombia General I.M. Elias Nino Herrera Colombian Marine Corps For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as Commandant of the Colombian Marine Corps. General Nino's cooperation and understanding have been a significant contribution to the mutual friendship between Colombia and the United States.
Italy Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola
Ecuador General de Ejercito
(General of the Army)
Paco Moncayo For of his exceptionally superior performance as Chief of the Armed Forces Joint Command and his contribution to Ecuadorian history, politics and democracy
Philippines General Fidel Ramos
Philippines General Alfredo Santos Armed Forces of the Philippines
Australia General Sir Phillip Bennett
General John Baker
General Peter Cosgrove
Australian Defence Force Chiefs of the Defence Force
Canada Rear Admiral Leonard W. Murray Canadian Northwest Atlantic Architect of the Battle of the Atlantic.
Poland Lieutenant General Władysław Anders 2nd Polish Corps
Germany General Hans-Otto Budde
Adolf Heusinger
Klaus Naumann
Wolfgang Schneiderhan
France General Edgard de Larminat
Alain de Boissieu
Vincent Desportes
Jean-Louis Georgelin
Bahrain Brigadier General Sharif Uddin Ahmed Bangladesh Army The first Bangladeshi General to receive this award for his outstanding service as the Defence Attache from 1985 to 1989 in Bangladesh Embassy, United States.
United Kingdom General Michael John Dawson Walker, Baron Walker of Aldringham GCB, CMG, CBE, ADC, DL Implementation Force in Bosnia Former Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) in the United Kingdom
Australia Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Rodney Park Royal Air Force WWII commander during the Battle of Britain and later Allied Air Commander South East Asia
Wing Commander Guy Gibson Royal Air Force WWII leader of the Dams raid (Operation Chastise) in 1943
South Africa Major General William Henry Evered Poole, CB, CBE, DSO 6th South African Armoured Division Unit is part of the 5th US Army during the Italian Campaign in World War II
Russia Admiral of the Fleet Vladimir Vasilyevich Masorin Russian Navy
  • Officer:
    • First recipients were Colonel Johanes K. Meijer of the Royal Netherlands Army, Major Herbert J. Thompson of the British Army, and Major Stephan M. Dobrowalski of the Polish Army.
    • At the beginning of the North African campaign, General Lyman L. Lemnitzer accompanied General Mark Wayne Clark by submarine to North Africa. Upon arrival, about 60 officers were awarded the Legion of Merit and were among the first awarded the medal. By some misunderstanding as to the rules governing the awards, these 60 American officers were awarded the degree of Officer. According to Lemnitzer, President Roosevelt was quite annoyed but did not rescind the awards. These were the only U.S. officers (or service personnel of any rank) awarded the Legion of Merit with a degree.
    • In 1945 two members of the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force were honored for valor, determination and sacrifice lending air support to American soldiers on the ground saving countless American lives in the Pacific theater of operations. These two outstanding soldiers were Colonel Antonio Cardenas Rodriguez and Captain Radames Gaxiola Andrade.
    • In 1996 LGen Roméo Dallaire of the Canadian Army was made an Officer of the Legion for his role as Commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda during the civil war and subsequent genocide.
    • Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy Head of the Royal Air Force, for his part in operation Telic/ Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    • Brigadier General Tariq Khan became the first Pakistani Officer to receive the award for meritorious services as a liaison officer during Operations Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received the award on 9 December 2007.
    • Group Captain Harry Day, senior Officer at numerous POW camps during World War II, and significantly helped American POWs endure the captivity, as well as organising escape operations.
  • Legionnaire:

Members of the US Armed Forces listed below are listed in error. They are recipients of the award, but are not awarded the degree of "Legionnaire":

When the Legion of Merit is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States it is awarded without reference to degree.

Legion of Merit#Criteria

[8]

Appearance

Chief Commander Commander Officer Legionnaire
Us legion of merit chief commander.png
Us legion of meit commander.png
Us legion of merit officer.png
Us legion of merit legionnaire.png
Ribbon
Us legion of merit commander rib.png
Us legion of merit chief commander rib.png
Us legion of merit officer rib.png
Us legion of merit legionnaire rib.png
  • The Chief Commander Degree of the Legion of Merit Medal is, on a wreath of green laurel joined at the bottom by a gold bow-knot (rosette), a domed five-pointed white star bordered crimson, points reversed with v-shaped extremities tipped with a gold ball. In the center, a blue disk encircled by gold clouds, with 13 white stars arranged in the pattern that appears on the United States Coat of Arms. Between each point, within the wreath are crossed arrows pointing outwards. The overall width is 2 15/16 inches (75 mm). The words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" are engraved in the center of the reverse. A miniature of the decoration in gold on a horizontal gold bar is worn on the service ribbon.
  • The Commander Degree of the Legion of Merit Medal is, on a wreath of green laurel joined at the bottom by a gold bow-knot (rosette), a five-pointed white star bordered crimson, points reversed with v-shaped extremities tipped with a gold ball. In the center, a blue disk encircled by gold clouds, with 13 white stars arranged in the pattern that appears on the United States Coat of Arms. Between each star point, within the wreath, are crossed arrows pointing outwards. The overall width is 2¼ inches (57 mm). A gold laurel wreath in the v-shaped angle at the top connects an oval suspension ring to the neck ribbon that is 1 15/16 inches (49 mm) in width. The reverse of the five-pointed star is enameled in white, and the border is crimson. In the center, a disk for engraving the name of the recipient surrounded by the words "ANNUIT COEPTIS MDCCLXXXII." An outer scroll contains the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." The service ribbon is the same as the ribbon for the degree of Chief Commander, except the ribbon attachment is Silver.
The neck ribbon for the degree of Commander is 1 15/16 inches (49 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/16 inch (2 mm) white 67101; center 1 13/16 inches (46 mm) crimson and 1/16 inch (2 mm) white.
  • The Officer Degree of the Legion of Merit Medal is similar to the degree of Commander except the overall width is 1 7/8 inches (48 mm) and the pendant has a suspension ring instead of the wreath for attaching the ribbon. A gold replica of the medal, ¾ inch (19 mm) wide, is centered on the suspension ribbon.
  • The Legionnaire Degree of the Legion of Merit Medal and the Legion of Merit Medal issued to U.S. personnel is the same as the degree of Officer, except the suspension ribbon does not have the medal replica.
The ribbon for all of the decorations is 1 3/8 inches (35 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/16 inch (2 mm) white; center 1¼ inches (32 mm) crimson; and 1/16 inch (2 mm) white. The reverse of all of the medals has the motto taken from the Great Seal of the United States "ANNUIT COEPTIS" (He (God) Has Favored Our Undertakings) and the date "MDCCLXXXII" (1782), which is the date of America's first decoration, the Badge of Military Merit, now known as the Purple Heart. The ribbon design also follows the pattern of the Purple Heart ribbon.

References

  1. ^ "Legion of Merit". Awards. Institute of Heraldry. http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Awards/LOM1.html. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  2. ^ "Types of the Medal of Honor: 1862 To Present." Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Retrieved: 23 July 2006.
  3. ^ Executive Order 9260 of 29th October 1942 http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=58838
  4. ^ 18 U.S.C. 704
  5. ^ "AF welcomes Japanese chief of staff". bolling.af.mil. 2008-08-20. http://www.bolling.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123111707&page=1. 
  6. ^ Home of the Heroes. Lieutenant (j.g.) Ann A. Bernatitus, "Angel of Mercy".
  7. ^ Army Service. http://www.mihalko-family.com/Army%20Service.htm. 
  8. ^ "Service Aviation". Flight (Reed Business Information Ltd): p637. 17 October 1958. http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1958/1958-1-%20-%200633.html. 

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