Prisoner of War Medal
Few people realize that it is a fact of history that there was no military medal issued to service persons honoring their travails as prisoners of war for either of the two World Wars, not to mention the smaller conflicts that followed World War II. The Pantheon of all the medals of America did not have a Prisoner of War medal until it was created on November 8, 1985 when president Ronald Regan signed a Congressional Authorization into law creating these US military medals. These military ribbons and medals are presented to any P.O.W. taken prisoner or held captive while engaged in military operations against an enemy of the U.S., or while serving with a friendly force engaged in armed conflict with an enemy which is not a belligerent party to the U.S. These military medals may also be awarded retroactively to U.S. military personnel who were P.O.W.s from previous wars and conflicts dating back to our country’s entry into WWI on April 6, 1917.
Four years after its creation, on November 29, 1989, an amendment was added that extended the eligibility for these military ribbons and medals to service personnel who have been kidnapped, or held captive by terrorist groups with whom the U.S. is not legally at war. The new bill also includes detainees, and internees of neutral countries when their service secretary deems that circumstances of their captivity were comparable to those under which persons have generally been held captive by enemy armed forces during periods of armed conflict. The one caveat is that the person's conduct, while in captivity, must have been honorable. These military ribbons and medals may also be awarded posthumously to the surviving next of kin of the intended recipient.
The Prisoner of War Medal is worn just below the Army Achievement Medal, the Navy “E” Ribbon, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation; and just above the Army, Navy and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals and the Air Force Combat Readiness Medal in the general order of precedence that has been established for the proper display of all military medals and ribbons.
The Prisoner of War Medal is awarded by all branches of military service and can be worn as traditional full size military medals and mini medals, military ribbons and lapel pins. It is available as traditional slide-on military medals or mini-medals and slide-on military ribbons. Nowadays however, more and more military service personnel are realizing the value to their career goals of always having their uniform decorations looking their best, and have turned to the slimmer and trimmer thin military medals and mini medals and the ultra thin military ribbons to provide them with the smartest looking military award displays possible.