The Navy and Marine Corps Medal

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the highest non-combat decoration for heroism. It’s higher than the Army’s Soldier’s Medal and Air Force’s Airman’s Medal.

The achievement must clearly exceed that which is normally required or expected and reflect most creditably on the service. It must also have been important to the accomplishment of a unit mission.

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the highest non-combat heroism award the United States Department of the Navy can bestow. It is awarded for acts of heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy force, and that do not merit the award of a Silver Star or a Distinguished Service Cross.

While on a routine patrol near the Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, Marines noticed a family of four trapped in a rip current. Cpl. Austin McMullen, a rifleman with 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, and his fellow sailors, staff Sgt. Leary K. Reichartwarfel, and Cpl. Anders K. Larson, rushed to their aid.

They yelled to the family to “float on your back, don’t fight” the rip current, and pulled them to safety. The girls’ mother, Ali Joy, later founded Float Don’t Fight, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of rip currents. A photograph of the four Marines who rescued them was displayed at Dorothy’s on Tuesday.

The Navy Commendation Medal

For heroism or meritorious achievement not involving aerial flight in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force. May be awarded with the bronze “V” device.

Marine officials are aiming to speed up the award process by eliminating longstanding quotas that limited the number of Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals that commanders could award each year. Officials emphasized that the change should not be interpreted as a loosening of standards, eligibility or levels of performance required for the medal.

Until now, the commander of each ship, submarine, air wing or shore activity was limited to 96 NMCCMs a year. That has been reduced to 50, and now commanders will be able to give them to as many sailors and Marines as they see fit. The move is part of a larger Pentagon review of the military’s awards system. It is a move that is expected to be implemented next month. The medal features a hexagon with an eagle from the Department of Defense seal in the center and hangs from a dark green ribbon.

The Navy Achievement Medal

The Navy Achievement Medal is awarded to junior officers and enlisted personnel, including Reserves on active or inactive duty in the grades of lieutenant commander (or major) and below for meritorious service or achievement under noncombat circumstances. The award may be based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature; local commanders decide when and under what circumstances this award is made.

The medal is a bronze square with clipped corners and features a fouled anchor in the center. A blank reverse allows for engravement of the recipient’s name. It hangs from a myrtle green ribbon with orange stripes near each edge. Subsequent awards are denoted by gold stars. A combat distinguishing device (“V”) is authorized, but no more than two such devices may be worn on a single ribbon.

This medal is worn with the Joint Service Achievement Medal and before the Combat Action Ribbon on the Navy uniform ribbon rack. See the Order of Precedence page to learn more about the correct display and placement of all service ribbons on the Navy uniform.

The Navy Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded to United States soldiers, sailors or Marines. To earn the award, a service member must distinguish themselves conspicuously above and beyond the call of duty.

The first medal of honor for enlisted Navy and Marine Corps personnel was established in 1861. Since then, three different versions have been introduced for each branch of the military: an original star shape established in 1862 that the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps still use; a wreath version designed in 1904 for the Army; and the current medal that was altered for the Air Force in 1965. All three variants are worn suspended below a neck ribbon.

To learn more about the history of these medals, visit our Medal of Honor Collections page and read about the heroes whose acts of valor have earned them. You can also explore the story behind the creation of our country’s most prestigious medal, as well as its storied place in our nation’s culture.

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