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Silver Star
Silver Star medal.jpg
Awarded by United States armed forces
Type Medal
Awarded for "Gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States"
Status Currently awarded
First awarded 1932
Next (higher) Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross
Distinguished Service Medals: Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard
Next (lower) Bronze Star w/ Valor device
Defense Superior Service Medal
Silver Star ribbon.svg
Silver Star ribbon
Army Captain Gregory Ambrosia receiving the Silver Star from Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Silver Star is the third-highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States armed forces. It is also the third highest award given for valor in the face of the enemy.

The Silver Star is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States not justifying one of the two higher awards - the service crosses (Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, or the Air Force Cross), the second-highest military decoration, or the Medal of Honor, the highest decoration. The Silver Star may be awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the armed forces, distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism involving one of the following actions:

  • In action against an enemy of the United States
  • While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force
  • While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party


General information

The Silver Star differs from the service crosses in that it requires a lesser degree of gallantry and need not be earned while in a position of great responsibility.

Air Force pilots are often considered eligible to receive a Silver Star upon becoming an ace (having five or more confirmed kills), which entails the pilot intentionally and successfully risking his life multiple times under combat conditions and emerging victorious.[1]

Soldiers who received a Citation Star for gallantry in action during World War I were eligible to apply to have the citation converted to the Silver Star. (see below)

The Valorous Unit Award is considered the unit level equivalent of a Silver Star.


The Silver Star is the successor decoration to the Citation Star which was established by an Act of Congress on July 9, 1918. On July 19, 1932, the Secretary of War approved the Silver Star to replace the Citation Star. The original Citation Star is incorporated into the center of the Silver Star, and the ribbon for the Silver Star is based closely on the Certificate of Merit Medal.

Authorization for the Silver Star was placed into law by an Act of Congress for the U.S. Navy on August 7, 1942 and an Act of Congress for the U.S. Army on December 15, 1942. The primary reason for congressional authorization was the desire to award the medal to civilians as well as members of the military. The current statutory authorization for the Silver Star is Title 10 of the United States Code (10 U.S.C. § 3746).

The Department of Defense does not keep extensive records of Silver Star awards. Independent groups estimate that between 100,000 and 150,000 Silver Stars have been awarded since the award was established.[2] Colonel David Hackworth is the record holder for most Silver Stars awarded to a single person. He earned ten Silver Stars for service in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, in addition to two Distinguished Service Crosses.


The Silver Star is a gold five-pointed star, 1 1/2 inches (38 mm) in circumscribing diameter with a laurel wreath encircling rays from the center and a 3/16 inch (5 mm) diameter silver star superimposed in the center. The pendant is suspended from a rectangular shaped metal loop with rounded corners. The reverse has the inscription "FOR GALLANTRY IN ACTION". The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches (35 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes: 7/32 inch (6 mm) Old Glory red (center stripe); proceeding outward in pairs 7/32 inch (6 mm) white; 7/32 inch (6 mm) ultramarine blue; 3/64 inch (1 mm) white; and 3/32 inch (2 mm) ultramarine blue.

Additional decorations of the Silver Star are denoted by oak leaf clusters in the Army and Air Force and by award stars in the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.

Female recipients

In 1944, four nurses serving in World War II - First Lieutenant Mary Roberts, Second Lieutenant Elaine Roe, Second Lieutenant Rita Virginia Rourke, and Second Lieutenant Ellen Ainsworth (posthumous) - became the first female recipients of the Silver Star were cited for their bravery in successfully evacuating the 33rd Field Hospital at Anzio, Italy on February 10.

The four nurses remained the sole female recipients of the Silver Star until Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester was awarded the Silver Star in 2005 for gallantry during an insurgent ambush on a convoy in Iraq. Three nurses who had served in World War I were posthumously awarded the Silver Star in 2007. Army Specialist Monica Lin Brown was awarded the Silver Star in March 2008 for actions in the War in Afghanistan.[3]

Notable recipients

Notable recipients include:


A group of silver stars being awarded to the 3rd Special Forces Group.

In the case of the Silver Star, any false written or verbal claim to a 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 a decoration or medal authorized for wear by authorized military members or veterans is a federal offense punishable by a fine and/or up to one year in jail.[4][5]

See also



External links

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