Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
|Air Force Distinguished Service Medal|
|Awarded by United States Air Force|
|Eligibility||members of the United States Air Force|
|Awarded for||exceptionally meritorious service to the government in a duty of great responsibility, in combat or otherwise|
|Established||6 July 1960|
|Next (higher)||Army - Distinguished Service Cross
Navy (Navy-Marine) - Navy Cross
Air Force - Air Force Cross
Coast Guard - Coast Guard Cross
|Equivalent||Distinguished Service Medal: Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard|
|Next (lower)||Silver Star|
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal ribbon
The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was created by an act of the United States Congress on July 6, 1960. The medal was intended as a new decoration of the United States Air Force to replace the policy of awarding the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Air Force personnel.
The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to any member of the United States Air Force who has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the United States Government in a duty of great responsibility. The interpretation of the phrase "great responsibility" means that this medal is generally awarded only to officers who hold at least the rank of Major General. However, as is customary for most military decorations, the requirements for the Distinguished Service Medal are interpreted more liberally when awarded upon retirement. As a result, it is the typical decoration for a retiring Brigadier General, and in recent years it has also been awarded to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force upon retirement.
Cases of the award of this decoration to an individual who was not a general officer, or the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, are unusual. The medal is typically awarded to senior Air Force generals. Two notable exceptions are astronauts Buzz Aldrin who was awarded this decoration even though he retired as a colonel and David Scott (Gemini 8, Apollo 9, adn Apollo 15) who was awarded this award twice. 
The first recipient of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was Major General Osmond J. Ritland, USAF, who received his medal on November 30, 1965 upon his retirement.
This award is comparable to the Department of the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service given to civilian employees of the Department of the Air Force.
- Distinguished Service Medal (Army)
- Navy Distinguished Service Medal
- Awards and decorations of the United States military
- Air Force Personnel Center Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
- "Fact Sheet: Air Force Distinguished Service Medal". Air Force Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base.
- "Awards and Citations of Buzz Aldrin". Magazine. Military Times/Gannett. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "Major General Osmond J. Ritland Inducted 1989". Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers. Air Force Space Command.