This award was established by the Commandant of the Coast Guard, as announced in Commandant's Circular No. 24-47, dated August 15, 1947, and approved by the Secretary of the Treasury on August 26, 1947. It was initially established as the Coast Guard Commendation Ribbon. On July 5, 1951, the Acting Secretary of the Treasury redesignated it as the Coast Guard Commendation Ribbon With Metal Pendant on the recommendation of Vice Admiral Merlin O'Neill, the Commandant of the Coast Guard. On October 2, 1959, Admiral Alfred C. Richmond, who was Commandant at the time, redesignated it as the Coast Guard Commendation Medal.
The Coast Guard Commendation Medal has been in effect since August 15, 1947.
The Coast Guard Commendation Medal may be awarded to members of the Armed Forces serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard for meritorious service resulting in unusual and outstanding achievement rendered while the Coast Guard is serving under Department of Homeland Security jurisdiction. Specifically, it may be awarded to persons who, while serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard (including foreign military personnel) distinguish themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service. To merit this award, the acts or services must be accomplished or performed in a manner above that normally expected and must be sufficient to distinguished the individual above others of comparable grade or rating who perform similar services.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
The Coast Guard Commendation Medal is worn after the Joint Service Commendation Medal and before the Joint Service Achievement Medal.
Additional awards are denoted by Gold Stars, and both the Combat and Operational Distinguishing Devices may be authorized.
DESIGNER AND SCULPTOR
The Coast Guard Commendation Medal was designed by Jay Morris and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., both of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.
The first recipient of the current version of the Coast Guard Commendation Medal was YN2 Marilyn A. Seebald. She was assigned to the Permanent Uniform Board in the Coast Guard Office of Personnel and received her Commendation Medal on January 13, 1978 for her outstanding performance in the development of a Coast Guard women's uniform.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
The current Coast Guard Commendation Medal is a bronze hexagon, point up, one and a quarter inches wide and one and three-eighths inches wide, point-to-point. In its center is the current Coast Guard seal.
The reverse contains a circle consisting of the word AWARDED at the top and OUTSTANDING SERVICE in the lower third, separated by laurel leaves. Inside the circle are the words TO and FOR, separated by a space for engraving the recipient's name. The inscription is configured to read, AWARDED TO [recipient's name] FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICE. The inscription describes the purpose of the award, and the laurel leaves represent achievement.
The ribbon to the second style Coast Guard Commendation Medal is identical to the ribbon of the first style medal.