Obverse: A silver medal 1 1/2 inches wide, consisting of a laurel wreath superimposed by an eagle with wings spread and bearing on its chest a shield as shown on the Great Seal of the United States, clutching in dexter talons three demi-arrows and in sinister talons, an oliver branch; above the eagle's head and attached on the inner top of the laurel wreath is a mullet.
Reverse: A scroll fesswise across the wings and body of the eagle, inscribed ''U.S. AIR FORCE'' stacked above ''COMBAT ACTION.''
A scarlet ribbon with Air Force yellow stripes bend sinisterwise.
The eagle represents strength and vigilance and embodies the American spirit of freedom. The star and eagle, adapted from the art insignia on the aircraft of Billy Mitchell, gives this medal the heritage and honor of that history. Billy Mitchell was an energetic airpower advocate who planned and led the first coordinated air-ground offensive in history during World War I. The eagle is facing toward the arrows to symbolize the preparedness for war and protecting the Homeland while the olive branch represents the desire for peace. The laurel wreath is symbolic of respect and high achievement. The colors of the ribbon, scarlet and yellow, are taken from the background colors of Billy Mitchell's aircraft insignia.
See AFI 36-2803 (Air Force Awards and Decorations Program).
On March 15, 2007 the Secretary of the Air Force approved establishment of the Air Force Combat Action Medal to recognize any military member of the Air Force (airman basic thru colonel) who actively participated in combat (ground or air).