To recognize the continued service or heroism of its flying personnel, the United States Army awards its version of the Air Medal. These medals, which came into issue in 1942 during World War II, can go to various people who directly affect combat flying operations. To receive an Army Air Medal, soldiers must meet certain requirements and perform specific functions as outlined in Army Regulation 600-8-22.
The first soldiers eligible to receive the Army Air Medal are those who engage in any single act of heroism during military flight operations in combat. This includes both combat in which the United States is a primary participant and conflicts in which it is playing a supporting role. The Army awards air medals to soldiers who display an act of heroism deemed worthy of recognition, but does not meet the qualifications for the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The next soldiers eligible to receive Air Medals are those who engage in continued aerial service for more than six months while in combat. As outlined in AR 600-8-22, soldiers must serve at least six months in a combat zone and be active participants in flight-related duties for Air Medal eligibility. To receive an air medal for meritorious service, soldiers must meet the six-month requirement. The number of missions or hours flown do not factor in for eligibility.
The Air Medal recognizes those who serve on flying duty, such as pilots, navigators or gunners. However, personnel not on flying status can receive the medal if they engage in an act of heroism that supports the Army's flight mission. For example, soldiers who help with an aerial attack during general transport, or those who serve as combat controllers (forward air controllers) may be eligible to receive an Air Medal. Soldiers who fly solely for transportation purposes are not eligible.
- Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images