The Navy Distinguished Service
Medal was established by Act of Congress (Public
Law 253, 65th Congress), approved February 4, 1919.
The Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Title 10,
United States Code, Section 6243 (10 USC 6243).
The Navy Distinguished Service Medal has been in
effect since April 6, 1917. The medal was designed by
Paul Manship (1885-1966).
Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to a person
who, while serving in any capacity with the Navy or
Marine Corps, distinguishes himself by exceptionally
meritorious service to the United States in a duty of
great responsibility. To justify this decoration, an
exceptional performance of duty, clearly above that
normally expected, which has contributed materially
to the success of a major command or project, is
required. In general, the Distinguished Service Medal
will be awarded only to those officers in principal
commands at sea or in the field whose service is such
as to justify the award. However, this shall not be
interpreted to preclude the award of the
Distinguished Service Medal to any individual whose
service meets the requirements. If there is any doubt
as to the degree of service involved, the Legion of
Merit is the more appropriate award.
Additional awards of the Navy Distinguished
Service Medal are denoted by gold stars five-sixteenths of an
inch in diameter.
The central feature of the Navy Distinguished
Service Medal is an American bald eagle with displayed wings
in the center of a gilt-bronze medallion one and a quarter
inches in diameter. The eagle holds an olive branch and arrows
in its right and left talons, respectively. The eagle is
surrounded by a blue enameled ring which contains the words,
UNITED STATES NAVY, with NAVY centered at the bottom. Outside
the blue enamel ring is a gold border consisting of scroll
waves moving in a clockwise direction. The medal is suspended
from its ribbon by a five-pointed star (point up) tipped with
gold balls. In the center of the star is an anchor, and gold
rays emanate from the re-entrant angles of the star.
The basic theme of the
obverse design is taken from the Army Distinguished Service
Medal, which also has an eagle in the center and which is also
surrounded by a blue enameled ring. The eagle is the American
bald eagle and represents the United States, while the scroll
waves allude to naval service (as does the star which suspends
the medal). The olive branches and arrows in the eagles talons
refer to distinguished service in either war or peace. The
star used in the suspender stands for military service, and
the anchor within the star indicates service performed on
behalf of the Navy.
The ribbon to the Navy
Distinguished Service Medal is a field of Navy blue with a
center stripe of gold. These are the colors of the U.S. Navy.