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Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal

The Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal was authorized by Congress in August of 1949. Since Congress recognized different types and degrees of heroism and meritorious service, it created separate versions of the Distinguished Service Medal for each branch of service and a fifth version recognizes US Department of Defense personnel contributions. Until the Coast Guard got its own version, their personnel were awarded the Navy version of the Distinguished Service Medal. These medals of America were to be awarded by the President to persons who distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility in time of war or in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States. It takes much more than just exceptional performance of normal duty to justify award of these US military medals, which is why they are relatively rare.

The term "duty of a great responsibility" applies to a narrower range of positions when the US is not at war, than in time of war, and requires evidence of conspicuously significant achievement. However, justification for award of these Coast Guard ribbons and medals may accrue by virtue of exceptionally meritorious service in a succession of high positions of great importance. Under exceptional circumstances, and with the express approval of the President, these military medals are occasionally awarded for wartime services to persons who are not members of the US Armed Forces.

Until 2003, the bestowing authority of the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal was the United States Secretary of Transportation. In 2003 the Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, and they now authorize the presentation of these Coast Guard medals. Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medals are normally only bestowed to senior or flag officers, such as the Commandant of the Coast Guard. However, in 1998, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Rick Trent became the first enlisted member to receive the medal.

These military medals are worn below the Army, Navy, Air Force and Defense Department versions of the Distinguished Service Cross and above the Silver Stars awarded by each branch of service, in the general order of precedence which has been established for the proper display of all military ribbons and medals. Additional awards of these military medals are denoted by Gold Award Stars. These military awards are generally available as traditional full size military medals and mini medals, military ribbons and lapel pins. Like most military awards, they are available as traditional slide-on, full size military medals or mini-medals, and slide-on military ribbons. In more recent times and the sleek new thin military medals, mini-medals and the ultra thin military ribbons have garnered a wide following with military personnel who have realized the importance of always looking their best to enhance their chances of advancement in their respective military services.

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