Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)
|Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Awarded by United States Military|
|Type||Military medal (Decoration)|
|Awarded for||"Heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight"|
|Established||2 July 1926|
|Next (higher)||Legion of Merit|
|Next (lower)||Army – Soldier's Medal
Navy & Marine Corps – Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Air Force – Airman's Medal
Coast Guard – Coast Guard Medal
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918."
The first award of the Distinguished Flying Cross was made by President Calvin Coolidge on May 2, 1927, to ten aviators of the Air Corps who had participated in the U.S. Army Pan American Flight, which took place from December 21, 1926 to May 2, 1927. Two of the airmen died in a mid-air collision trying to land at Buenos Aires on February 26, 1927, and received their awards posthumously. Since the award had only been authorized by Congress the previous year, no medals had yet been struck, and the Pan American airmen initially received only certificates. Among the ten airmen were Major Herbert A. Dargue, Captains Ira C. Eaker and Muir S. Fairchild, and 1st Lt. Ennis C. Whitehead.
Charles Lindbergh received the first presentation of the medal little more than a month later, from Coolidge during the Washington, D.C. homecoming reception on June 11, 1927, from his trans-Atlantic flight. The medal had hurriedly been struck and readied just for that occasion. Interestingly, the 1927 War Department General Order (G.O. 8), authorizing Lindbergh's DFC states that it was awarded by the President, while the General Order (G.O. 6) for the Pan American Flyers' DFC citation notes that the War Department awarded it "by direction of the President."
The first Distinguished Flying Cross to be awarded to a Naval Aviator was received by then-Commander Richard E. Byrd, for his trans-Atlantic flight from June 29 to July 1, 1927 from New York City to the coast of France. Byrd, along with pilot Floyd Bennett, received the Medal of Honor for their historic flight to the North Pole on May 9, 1926 but they did not receive the DFC for that flight as the DFC had not yet been created.
Numerous military recipients of the medal would later earn greater fame in other occupations—several astronauts, actors and politicians (including former President George H. W. Bush) are Distinguished Flying Cross holders.
DFC awards could be retroactive to cover notable achievements back until the beginning of World War I. On February 23, 1929, Congress passed special legislation to allow the award of the DFC to the Wright brothers for their December 17, 1903 flight. Other civilians who have received the award include Wiley Post, Jacqueline Cochran, Roscoe Turner, Amelia Earhart,Glenn H. Curtiss and Eugene Ely. Eventually, it was limited to military personnel by an Executive Order issued by President Coolidge.
During World War II the medal's award criteria varied widely depending on the theater of operations, aerial combat, and the missions accomplished. In the Pacific oftentimes commissioned officers were awarded the DFC, while enlisted men were given the Air Medal. In Europe some bomber crews, often the sole survivors of their wing or group, received it for completing a tour of duty of twenty-five sortees; elsewhere different criteria were used.
During wartime, members of the Armed Forces of friendly foreign nations serving with the United States are eligible for the Distinguished Flying Cross. It is also given to those who display heroism while working as instructors or students at flying schools.
The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized by Section 12 of the Air Corps Act enacted by the United States Congress on July 2, 1926, as amended by Executive Order 7786 on January 8, 1938. This act provided for award “to any person, while serving in any capacity with the Air Corps of the Army of the United States, including the National Guard and the Organized Reserves, or with the United States Navy, since the 6th day of April 1917, has distinguished, or who, after the approval of this Act, distinguishes himself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”
The Distinguished Flying Cross was designed by Elizabeth Will and Arthur E. DuBois. The medal is a bronze cross pattee, on which its obverse is superimposed a four-bladed propeller, 1 11/16 inches in width. Five rays extended from the reentrant angles, forming a one-inch square. The reverse is blank, and it is suitable for engraving the recipients' name and rank.The cross is suspended by a rectangular bar.
The suspension and service ribbon of the medal is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 9/64 inch White 67101; 11/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 3/64 inch White 67101; center stripe 3/32 inch Old Glory Red 67156; 3/64 inch White 67101; 11/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 9/64 inch White 67101; 3/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118.
Additional awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross are shown with bronze or silver Oak Leaf Clusters for the Army and Air Force, and by gold or silver 5/16 Inch Stars for the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard.
The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps may authorize the "V" device for wear to denote valor in combat; Navy and Marine Corps, Combat "V". The "V" device is not authorized for wear by the Army. In the Army, the Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded for single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The other services can also award the medal for "extraordinary achievement".
- "Executive Order 4601". U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33-V3". US Department of Defense. 23 November 2010. pp. 17–18, 50. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Distinguished Flying Cross". The Institute of Heraldry: Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the ARMY. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
- Mooney, Charles C. and Layman, Martha E. (1944). "Organization of Military Aeronautics, 1907-1935 (Congressional and War Department Action)". Air Force Historical Study No. 25. AFHRA (USAF). Retrieved 14 Dec 2010., Appendix 5, p. 127.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Distinguished Flying Cross.|
- The Distinguished Flying Cross Society
- Texas Military Veteran Video Oral Histories Digital Collection - Veterans Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross -- Newton Gresham Library, Sam Houston State University