Air Force Cross
The Air Force Cross was first suggested in 1947, shortly after the creation of the US Air Force as a separate branch of service, but not established by an Act of Congress until July of 1960. Originally entitled the Distinguished Service Cross (Air Force), it became in more recent years, simply the Air Force Cross. The President may award these US military medals to personnel who, while serving in any capacity with the Air Force, distinguish themselves by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of a Medal of Honor while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The Air Force Cross is the highest medal of America that can be awarded by the US Department of the Air Force, and the second highest award given for valor. Since their creation, these military ribbons and medals have been awarded more than 192 times to 187 separate individuals. Of these, 50 awards have been posthumous, including 30 to members missing in action, 23 have been awarded to enlisted personnel, including 11 pararescue jumpers, 17 graduates of the US Air Force Academy, and 13 for conduct while a prisoner of war. These military medals are equivalent to the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross.
Air Force regulations provide for a 10% increase in retired pay for enlisted personnel who have retired with more than 20 years of service if they have been awarded the Air Force Cross. These military medals are worn below the Medal of Honor, and above the Distinguished Service Medals of all branches in the general order of precedence that has been established for the proper display of all US military ribbons and medals. Multiple awards are denoted by Oak Leaf Clusters.