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Medal

Gold Lifesaving Medal

The Lifesaving Medals may be awarded to any member of the U.S. military, or to a U.S. civilian, who rescues, or endeavors to rescue, any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other peril of water. The rescue or attempted rescue must take place in waters within the United States, waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction, or one of the parties involved must be a citizen of the United States or be from a vessel or aircraft owned or operated by citizens of the United States. The Lifesaving Medal is issued in two grades, being silver and gold. The Gold Lifesaving Medal is authorized if the individual attempting the rescue did so at extreme peril and risk of life. For all other rescues, the Silver Lifesaving Medal is authorized. The Lifesaving Medals have had three designs in their history. The original design in 1874 was as a "table medal" without a ribbon and could not be worn by the recipient. In the late 19th century the design was changed so that the medal was suspended from a two inch wide ribbon. The ribbon was red for the Gold Lifesaving Medal and light blue for the Silver Lifesaving medal. Finally on 4 August 1949 the medals and ribbons were reduced in size so that they were more proportionate to medals awarded by the U.S. Armed Forces. The ribbons were also redesigned to have multiple colors. Until the mid-20th century, the Lifesaving Medal was often bestowed upon members of the military; however in recent times the decoration has become somewhat rare. This is due primarily to the creation of a variety of additional military decorations that are often considered more prestigious than the Lifesaving Medal. The United States Navy often issues the Navy and marine Corp. Medal, instead of the Lifesaving Medal, for sea rescues involving risk of life. Famed life-saver Joshua James wearing the Gold Lifesaving Medal among other awards The Coast Guard is the ultimate award authority for the Lifesaving Medal and issues the decorations to members of all military branches as well as civilians. Famous recipients of the Lifesaving Medal include Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and General George S. Patton. The Lifesaving Medal is unique among U.S. military medals and military ribbons because it is actually struck from precious metal, silver or gold, depending on the grade. Most other military medals are struck from inexpensive alloys. Multiple awards of the Lifesaving Medal are denoted by award stars on the decoration’s ribbon and a gold clasp, inscribed with the recipient’s name, is worn on the actual medal. Since 1874, more than 600 Gold Lifesaving Medals and more than 1,900 Silver Lifesaving Medals have been awarded.

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