Personal Decorations
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Navy Cross


Obverse: The Navy Cross is a modified cross patée 1½ inches wide (the ends of its arms are rounded, whereas a conventional cross patée has arms that are straight on the end). There are four laurel leaves with berries in each of the re-entrant arms of the cross. In the center of the cross, a sailing vessel is depicted on waves, sailing to the viewer's left. The vessel is a symbolic caravel of the type used between 1480 and 1500. The designer selected the caravel because it was a symbol often used by the Naval Academy and because it represented both naval service and the tradition of the sea. The laurel leaves with berries refer to achievement.

Reverse: In the center of a bronze cross patée 1½ inches wide, crossed anchors from the pre-1850 period, with cables attached. The letters “USN” appear amid the anchors.

The ribbon is navy blue with a center stripe of white. The blue alludes to naval service and the white represents the purity of selflessness.

See SECNAVINST 1650.1H (Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual).

The Navy Cross was formally established by Act of Congress (Public Law 253, 65th Congress), approved on February 4, 1919, although it has been in effect since April 6, 1917. The Navy Cross was designed by James Earl Fraser (1876-1953). Originally, the Navy Cross was lower in precedence than the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, because it was awarded for both combat heroism and for “other distinguished service.” Congress revised the criteria on August 7, 1942, making the Navy Cross a combat-only award and second in precedence to the Medal of Honor.

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