The Coast Guard Achievement Medal was established on January 29, 1964, by Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon as the Coast Guard Commendation For Achievement Ribbon and was redesignated as the Coast Guard Achievement Medal on June 11, 1968.


The Coast Guard Achievement Medal has been in effect since April 1, 1967.


All members of the Coast Guard, including Reserve personnel, and all members of other branches of the Armed Forces when serving with Coast Guard units are eligible for this award for service performed on or after April 1, 1967. The Coast Guard Achievement Medal is given for professional and/or leadership achievement in a combat or noncombat situation based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature of such merit that it warrants more tangible recognition than is possible by the Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon, but which does not warrant a Coast Guard Commendation medal or high award.
  • Professional Achievement
Professional achievement that merits the award of a Coast Guard Achievement Medal must clearly exceed that which is normally required or expected, considering the individual's grade or rate, training and experience and must be an important contribution which is beneficial to the United States and the Coast Guard.
  • Leadership Achievement
Leadership achievement which merits the award of the Coast Guard Achievement Medal must be noteworthy and must be sustained so that it demonstrates a high state of development or, if awarded for a specific achievement, that achievement must be of such merit that it earns singular recognition and it must reflect credibly on the efforts of the individual toward the accomplishment of the unit mission.


The Coast Guard Achievement Medal is worn after the Joint Service Achievement Medal and before the Coast Guard Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon.


Additional awards are denoted by Gold Stars. The Combat Distinguishing Device may be authorized for service subsequent to June 11, 1968. The Operational Distinguishing Device may be authorized.


The medal was designed by Irving Lyons and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., both of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.


The first Coast Guard Achievement Medal was awarded to Commander David M. Kaetzel on February 1, 1969.



In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, the Coast Guard seal surrounded by a laurel wreath. The laurel wreath is in turn surrounded by a continuous cable. The Coast Guard seal signifies the fact that this is a Coast Guard decoration; the laurel wreath represents achievement, and the continuous cable refers to both naval service and the ideal of perfection.


At the top of the medal, in two lines, the words AWARDED TO; at the bottom of the medal, also in two lines, the words FOR ACHIEVEMENT. Directly above the word FOR is a raised bar, above which the recipient's name is to be engraved.


The ribbon to the Coast Guard Achievement Medal is identical to that of the Navy Achievement Medal except that a white pinstripe has been added to the center of the ribbon.


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