Defense Superior Service Military Medal
Service: All Services (by Secretary of Defense)
Instituted: 6 February 1976
Defense Superior Service Medal - Overview
Defense Superior Service Award Criteria: Superior meritorious service to the United States while assigned to a Joint Activity in a position of significant responsibility
Devices: Bronze & Silver Oak Leaf Cluster
This military medal was authorized on February 6, 1976 by an executive order signed by President Gerald R. Ford. It is awarded by the Secretary of Defense to any member of the armed forces for superior meritorious service after February 6, 1976 in a position of significant responsibility while assigned to a DOD joint activity, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and specified and unified commands. The medal was created to provide recognition to those assigned to joint duty on a level equivalent to that recognition provided by the Legion of Merit. Prior to establishment of the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Office of the Secretary of Defense had to provide recognition through equivalent awards that were approved through individual service channels. Although it was established as equivalent to the Legion of Merit, its precedence is before the Legion of Merit when both are worn. Oak leaf clusters denote additional awards.
The medal depicts a silver American bald eagle with wings spread and the United States shield on its breast; the eagle is superimposed on a medium blue pentagon (which represents the five services) and is surrounded by a silver circle that has thirteen stars in the upper half and a laurel and olive wreath in the lower half. On the reverse of the medal is the inscription, “FROM THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE TO...FOR SUPERIOR SERVICE.” Space is provided between the TO and FOR for engraving of the recipient’s name. The ribbon consists of a central stripe of red, flanked on either side by stripes of white, blue and gold.