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Defense Distinguished Service Medal



A gold color metal and enamel pendant 1 7/8 inches (4.76 cm) in height overall consisting of a medium blue pentagon point up superimposed by a gold eagle with outspread wings charged on its breast with the shield of the United States and grasping in its talons three crossed arrows (as depicted on the seal of the Department of Defense) all gold, the wings projecting over and surmounting a gold arc encircling the top and sides of the pentagon and bearing nine conjoined gold stars above the wings, and two on each side below the wings, terminating in a gold wreath encircling the base composed of a laurel branch on the left and an olive branch on the right, the wreath surmounted by the extended ends of the arrows in base; at the top of the pendant a group of five graduated gold rays extending above the stars.


On an arc at the top the inscription "For Distinguished Service" above the pentagon which bears the inscription "From The Secretary of Defense To", all in gold.


The pentagon refers to the five armed services, the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard (in time of war) and Air Force. It also alludes to the headquarters of the Department of Defense. The configuration of the eagle bearing the shield of the United States and grasping three arrows upon a medium blue background together with an arc of thirteen stars and wreath of laurel and olive refers to the seal of the Department of Defense and indicates the award of the medal in the name of the Secretary of Defense. The conjoined stars and gold rays signify unity and excellence in the performance of the mission of the Department of Defense on behalf of the Nation.


A ribbon 1 3/8 inches (3.49 cm) in width composed of the following vertical stripes: Bluebird 3/8 inch (.95 cm), Golden Yellow 1/4 inch (.64 cm), Scarlet 1/8 inch (.32 cm), Golden Yellow 1/4 inch (.64 cm), Bluebird 3/8 (.95 cm) inch.


Bluebird is the color associated with the Department Defense. Yellow signifies excellence and the knowledge and guidance provided by great achievement. Red connotes zeal and courageous action.


The Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) was established by Executive Order 11545, 9 July 1970. It is awarded by the Secretary of Defense to officers of the Armed Forces of the United States whose exceptional performance of duty and contributions to national security or defense have been at the highest levels. The prescribing directive for the DDSM is DOD 1348.33-M, Manual of Military Decorations & Awards.

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