Certificate of Merit Medal

Certificate of Merit Medal
Certificate of Merit Medal
Certificate of Merit Medal ribbon.svg
Medal & ribbon bar
Awarded by United States Army
Type Medal
Status Obsolete

The Certificate of Merit Medal was a military decoration of the United States Army that was issued between the years of 1905 and 1918. The Certificate of Merit Medal was a military decoration which replaced the much older "Certificate of Merit" which had first been issued by the U.S. Army in 1847.

The original Certificate of Merit was issued to 539 Army soldiers during the Mexican-American War. The first certificates were only authorized for Privates and it was not until 1854 that the Certificate of Merit was awarded to NCOs the rank of Sergeant and above. The Certificate of Merit was never authorized for officers.

In 1892, the criteria for the Certificate of Merit was changed and now was presented to:

"Any enlisted members of the Army for distinguished service whether in action or otherwise, of valuable character to the United States, as, for example, extraordinary exertion in the preservation of human life, or in the preservation of public property, or rescuing public property from destruction by fire or other-wise, or any hazardous service by which the Government is saved loss in men and material."

Several changes in rules governing awards of the Certificate of Merit evolved from experience in handling the recommendations for the Spanish American War, the early period of the Philippine Insurrection, and the China Relief Expedition. Changes to the regulations announced in March 1903 required a second eyewitness statement to support each recommendation when the first statement was not from a commissioned officer and stated no award would be made when the subsequent service of the individual recommended had not been honorable. This latter rule had been followed since the revival of the award in 1878, but was now explicitly stated. Other restrictions were announced in 1903—a Certificate could be granted only if it were recommended by the regimental of corps commander as of the date of the recommendation, and the regimental or corps commander had to specifically recommend the award. These requirements delayed or precluded numerous awards including some to men who had left the service or been commissioned before the date of the regimental commanders' recommendations, and men who had been originally recommended for Medals of Honor by regimental commanders.

There were 205 Certificates of Merit awarded under the new authority for decoration. In 1905, the name of the decoration was changed to the Certificate of Merit Medal and authorized for wear on a United States military uniform. It was always worn directly behind the Medal of Honor. The first recipient of the Certificate of Merit medal was First Lt. William Baker, who had received an original Certificate of Merit as a Corporal during the Spanish-American War.

Although the medal could be awarded for non-combat heroism, the Certificate of Merit was often awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

The Certificate of Merit was considered a single decoration for one-time issuance only. It was declared obsolete and removed from U.S. award precedence charts on July 9, 1918 following the creation of the Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Service Medal.

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