Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Dfc-usa.jpg
Awarded by United States Military
Type Medal
Awarded for "Heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight"
Status Current
Statistics
First awarded 1927
Precedence
Next (higher) Legion of Merit
Next (lower) Army – Soldier's Medal
Navy – Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Air Force – Airman's Medal
Coast Guard – Coast Guard Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon
LTG Ray Odierno presents Distinguished Flying Crosses to soldiers in Iraq.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a medal awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918." The decoration may also be given for an act performed prior to that date when the individual has been recommended for, but has not received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross or Distinguished Service Medal.

Contents

History

The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized by Section 12 of the Air Corps Act enacted by the United States Congress on July 2, 1926,[1] as amended by Executive Order 7786 on January 8, 1938.

The first award of the Distinguished Flying Cross was made by President Calvin Coolidge on May 2, 1927, to ten aviators of the Air Corps who had participated in the U.S. Army Pan American Flight, which took place from December 21, 1926 to May 2, 1927. Two of the airmen died in a mid-air collision trying to land at Buenos Aires on February 26, 1927, and received their awards posthumously. Since the award had only been authorized by Congress the previous year, no medals had yet been struck, and the Pan American airmen initially received only certificates. Among the ten airmen were Major Herbert A. Dargue, Captains Ira C. Eaker and Muir S. Fairchild, and 1st Lt. Ennis C. Whitehead.

Charles Lindbergh received the first presentation of the medal little more than a month later, from Coolidge during the Washington, DC homecoming reception on June 11, 1927, from his trans-Atlantic flight. The medal had hurriedly been struck and readied just for that occasion. Interestingly, the 1927 War Department General Order (G.O. 8), authorizing Lindbergh's DFC states that it was awarded by the President, while the General Order (G.O. 6) for the Pan American Flyers' DFC citation notes that the War Department awarded it "by direction of the President." The first Distinguished Flying Cross to be awarded to a Naval Aviator was received by then-Commander Richard E. Byrd, for his flight on May 9, 1926, to and from the North Pole. Both Lindbergh and Byrd also received the Medal of Honor for their feats.

Numerous military recipients of the medal would later earn greater fame in other occupations—several astronauts, actors and politicians (including former President George H. W. Bush) are Distinguished Flying Cross holders.

DFC awards could be retroactive to cover notable achievements back until the beginning of World War I. On February 23, 1929, Congress passed special legislation to allow the award of the DFC to the Wright brothers for their December 17, 1903 flight. Other civilians who have received the award include Wiley Post, Jacqueline Cochran, Roscoe Turner, Amelia Earhart, and Eugene Ely. Eventually, it was limited to military personnel by an Executive Order issued by President Coolidge.

During World War II the medal's award criteria varied widely depending on the theater of operations, aerial combat, and the missions accomplished. In Europe some bomber crewmembers received it for completing a tour of duty of twenty-five sortees; elsewhere much higher criteria were used.[2]

During wartime, members of the Armed Forces of friendly foreign nations serving with the United States are eligible for the Distinguished Flying Cross. It is also given to those who display heroism while working as instructors or students at flying schools.

Col. Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski received 13 Distinguished Flying Crosses—the most earned by any person.

Design

The Distinguished Flying Cross was designed by Elizabeth Will and Arthur E. DuBois. It is a bronze cross pattee, with rays between the arms of the cross. On the obverse is a propeller of four blades, with one blade in each arm of the cross and in the re-entrant angles of the cross are rays which form a square. The cross is suspended by a rectangle-shaped bar and centered on this is a plain shield. The reverse is blank and suitable for engraving the recipient's name and rank.

The ribbon has a narrow red center stripe, flanked on either side by a thin white stripe, a wide stripe of dark blue, a narrow white stripe and narrow dark blue at the edge of the ribbon.

Subsequent awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross are indicated by oak leaf clusters for Army and Air Force personnel, and by award stars for members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

In the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, a Combat Distinguishing Device (a bronze letter "V") may be awarded to represent valor (heroism) in combat. In the Army, the DFC is awarded exclusively for heroism in combat (whereas the other services may award it for "extraordinary achievement"), so no "V" device is necessary on the Army award.

See also

References

External links


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