The Soldier's Medal was established by Act of Congress (Public Law 446, 69th Congress), approved July 2, 1926.


The Soldier's Medal has been awarded for qualifying service since July 2, 1926.


The Soldier's Medal may be awarded to members of the Armed Forces who, while serving in any capacity with the Army, distinguish themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.


The Soldier's Medal is worn after the Distinguished Flying Cross and before the Bronze Star Medal.


Additional awards of the Soldiers Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters.


The Soldier's Medal was designed and sculpted by Gaetano Cecere.


On Monday, October 17, 1927, the War Department announced the first four awards of the Soldier's Medal to the following individuals:
  • Private First Class John F. Burns, 56th Ordnance Company, for heroism during a fire at the Pig Point Ordnance Reserve Depot, Pig Point, Virginia, on August 18, 1926.

  • Warrant Officer James K. Wilson, for heroism on August 12, 1926, near Fort McPherson, Georgia in saving a boy from drowning.

  • Private Cleophas C. Burnett, 62nd Service Squadron, Air Corps, for heroism on August 16, 1926, for heroism in rescuing two women from drowning at San Antonio, Texas.

  • Private First Class James P. Martin, 56th Ordnance Company, for heroism during a fire at the Pig Point Ordnance Reserve Depot, Pig Point, Virginia, on August 18, 1926.


In the center of a bronze octagon one and three-eighths inches wide, an eagle with its wings displayed upward. The eagle is centered between two groups of stars (the group on the eagle's left contains seven stars, and the group to its right has six) and a spray of laurel above them. The eagle is standing over a fasces. The octagon shape was adopted to distinguish the Soldier's Medal from all other Army decorations. The eagle is the American bald eagle, representing the United States. The fasces alludes to the lawful authority of the State and symbolically represents the fact that this medal is an award from the Government to an individual. The stars refer to the thirteen original colonies and thereby to all of the States, and hence to the United States of America. The spray of laurel is used to make the groups of stars symmetrical and also represents the ancient symbol of achievement.


In the center of the bronze octagon, a shield pay of thirteen pieces and the letters US centered in the chief. To the right of the shield, an oak branch extends upward to the top of the medal; to its left, a laurel branch, also extends upward to the top of the medal thereby framing the shield on both sides. The base of the shield terminates at a decorative scroll which surmounts a plaque used for engraving the recipient's name. The raised words FOR VALOR are separated by the base of the shield, the branches and scroll and appear perpendicular to the base of the medal. The raised words SOLDIER'S MEDAL follow the upper contour of the medal. The shield is from the Great Seal of the Untied States, and the sprays of laurel and oak allude to achievement and strength.


The consists of thirteen alternating stripes of white (seven) and red (six) in the center, bordered by blue. The colors employed in this ribbon are the National colors and are taken from the flag of the United States. The thirteen red and white stripes are arranged in the same manner (white alternating with red) as the thirteen vertical stripes in the shield of the Coat of Arms of the United States.


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