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."
- 1 History
- 2 World War II
- 3 Vietnam
- 4 Criteria
- 5 Appearance
- 6 DFC National Memorial Act
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 Notable recipients
- 9 Non-recipients
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
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.
Amelia Earhart became the first woman and first civilian to receive the DFC on July 29, 1932 when it was presented to her by Vice President Charles Curtis in Los Angeles. Earhart received the decoration for her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean earlier that year.
World War II
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.
During the Vietnam War high ranking Army officers often received the DFC for directing combat operations from aircraft.
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".
DFC National Memorial Act
In July 2014, the United States Senate passed the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act. The act was sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer, and seeks to designate the Distinguished Flying Cross memorial at March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California as a national memorial to recognize members of United States Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves by heroism in aerial flight. To become effective, the act will require passage by the House of Representatives and be signed by the President.
In popular culture
In the movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian the character Amelia Earhart (played by Amy Adams) mentions that she received "the Flying Cross". In real life, Amelia Earhart did, in fact, receive the Distinguished Flying Cross and was the first woman and civilian to do so.
Although it is never specifically mentioned, the character of Colonel Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors) in the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man is a highly accomplished test pilot and astronaut and is, therefore, a likely recipient of the DFC.
Note - the rank indicated is the highest held by the individual.
Medal of Honor recipients
- General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, USA - Legendary general.
- General Jimmy Doolittle, USAF - Leader of the Doolittle Raid.
- General Leon W. Johnson, USAF - Commander of the Continental Air Command.
- General Christian F. Schilt, USMC - Director of Marine Corps Aviation.
- Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, USN - President of the United States Naval War College and vice presidential candidate.
- Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, USN - Organized and led first flights over the north and south poles.
- Major General Patrick Henry Brady, USA - Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
- Brigadier General Frederick Walker Castle, USAAF - Posthumous Medal of Honor recipient.
- Brigadier General Joe Foss, ANG - Second highest scoring Marine Corps ace of World War II and Governor of South Dakota.
- Colonel Archie Van Winkle, USMC - World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veteran.
- Colonel George Day, USAF - POW during the Vietnam War.
- Colonel James P. Fleming, USAF - Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
- Colonel Joe M. Jackson, USAF - Vietnam War veteran.
- Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, USAACR - First person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
- Colonel John Lucian Smith, USMC - Leader of the Cactus Air Force on Guadacanal.
- Colonel Leo K. Thorsness, USAF - Vietnam War veteran.
- Captain David McCampbell, USN - Top US Navy ace of World War II.
- Lieutenant Colonel George A. Davis, USAF - High scoring Korean War ace.
- Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Novosel, USAFR - Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
- Lieutenant Colonel Jay Zeamer, Jr., USAAF - Last surviving Army Air Forces Medal of Honor recipient.
- Major Richard Bong, USAAF - Highest scoring American ace of World War II.
- Major Horace S. Carswell, Jr., USAAF - World War II bomber pilot.
- Major Thomas McGuire, USAAF - High scoring ace in World War II.
- Major Stephen W. Pless, USMC - Only Marine aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.
- Lieutenant Commander Edward "Butch" O'Hare - Shot down 3 Japanese bombers and damaged two others on a single flight. Recipient of the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross and 2 DFCs.
- First Lieutenant Raymond L. Knight, USAAF - World War II P-47 pilot.
- Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford, USAF - Flew to the Moon on Apollo 10, commander of Apollo-Soyuz mission. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Major General Joe Engle, USAF - X-15 and Space Shuttle pilot.
- Rear Admiral Alan Shepard, USN - One of the original seven American astronauts, first American in space in Freedom 7 and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Brigadier General Michael Collins, USAF - Command module pilot for Apollo 11 mission to the Moon and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Brigadier General James McDivitt, USAF - Commander of Gemini 4 and Apollo 9.
- Colonel Buzz Aldrin, USAF - Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 11, second man to walk on the Moon, living legend and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Colonel Frank Borman, USAF - Commander of Apollo 8 and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Colonel Eileen Collins, USAF - First woman to command two space shuttle missions.
- Colonel Gordon Cooper, USAF - One of the original seven American astronauts, pilot of Faith 7 and commander of Gemini 5.
- Colonel John Glenn, USMC - First American to orbit the earth in Friendship 7, United States Senator, recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Colonel William McArthur Jr., USA - Space shuttle astronaut.
- Colonel David Scott, USAF - Flew on Gemini 8, Apollo 9 and Apollo 15.
- Captain Eugene Cernan, USN - Commander of Apollo 17.
- Captain Pete Conrad, USN - Commander of Apollo 12 and Skylab 2 and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Captain Robert Crippen, USN - Pilot on first space shuttle mission and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Captain Jim Lovell, USN - Astronaut on two trips to the Moon, recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Captain Wally Schirra, USN - One of the original seven American astronauts flew on Sigma 7, Gemini 6A and as commander of Apollo 7.
- Captain John Young, USN - Flew on Apollo 10 and Apollo 16, commander of the first space shuttle mission and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Lieutenant Colonel Gus Grissom, USAF - One of the original seven American astronauts, second American in space on Liberty Bell 7 and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Commander Scott Carpenter, USN - One of the original seven American astronauts, flew on Aurora 7, and aquanaut with SEALAB project.
- Major Deke Slayton, USAF - One of the original seven American astronauts, NASA chief astronaut and docking module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz mission.
Note - Although astronaut Neil Armstrong's achievements as an aviator and an astronaut more than exceeded the requirements for the DFC, he was ineligible for the DFC as he was a civilian for his entire career with NASA.
- Lieutenant George H.W. Bush, USNR - President of the United States.
- Colonel Bruce Sundlun, USAFR - Business executive and Governor of Rhode Island.
- Rear Admiral Jeremiah Denton, USN - Prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and United States Senator.
- Colonel Lloyd Bentsen, USAFR - United States Senator, Secretary of the Treasury and vice presidential candidate.
- Captain John S. McCain, III, USN - United States Senator and presidential candidate.
- Captain William Hathaway, USAAF - Prisoner of war during World War II and United States Senator.
- Captain Joseph McCarthy, USMC - Controversial United States Senator.
- Captain Jim Wright, USAAF - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
- First Lieutenant George McGovern, USAAF - United States Senator, presidential candidate and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- First Lieutenant John Ehrlichman, USAAF - Aide to President Richard Nixon and key figure in the Watergate scandal.
- First Lieutenant Ted Stevens, USAAF - United States Senator.
- Jacqueline Cochran - Multiple record setting aviatrix, first woman to break the sound barrier and commander of the WASPs during World War II.
- Glenn Curtiss - Aircraft designer. 
- Amelia Earhart - Legendary aviatrix. First woman and first civilian to receive the DFC.
- Harold Gatty - Completed record breaking around the world flight.
- Wiley Post - Completed record breaking around the world flight.
- Roscoe Turner - Flamboyant air racing champion.
- Orville Wright - Aviation pioneer.
- Wilbur Wright - Aviation pioneer.
- Wing Commander James Blackburn DSO, DFC, RAF - Distinguished British pilot during World War II.
- Lieutenant Colonel Dieudonné Costes, French Army - Completed around the world flight.
- Lieutenant Commander Joseph Le Brix, French Navy - Completed around the world flight.
- Major James Fitzmaurice, Irish Free State Air Force - Flew on first westward crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Baron Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld, German aristocrat - Flew on first westward crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
Army Air Forces and United States Air Force
- General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold, USAF - Commander of the US Army Air Forces during World War II.
- General George S. Brown, USAF - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- General Ira C. Eaker, USAF - Commander of the 8th Air Force during World War II.
- General Daniel James, Jr., USAF - First African-American US Air Force four star general.
- General David C. Jones, USAF - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- General Curtis Lemay, USAF - Air Force Chief of Staff and vice presidential candidate.
- General Richard B. Myers, USAF - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- General Carl Spaatz, USAF - Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.
- General Nathan F. Twining, USAF - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Lieutenant General Royal N. Baker, USAF - Flew combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
- Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton, USAF - Commander of the Ninth Air Force during World War II.
- Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault, USAF - Commander of the Flying Tigers.
- Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., USAF - First African-American US Air Force general.
- Lieutenant General George E. Stratemeyer, USAF - Commander of Far East Air Forces during the Korean War.
- Major General Orvil A. Anderson, USAF - Participant in altitude record setting Air Corps Stratospheric Balloon Flights in Explorer I and Explorer II in 1934 and 1935.
- Major General Uzal Girard Ent, USAAF - Leader of the Ploesti Raid.
- Major General Jimmy Stewart, USAFR - Academy Award winning actor, bomber pilot and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Major General Mele "Mel" Vojvodich, USAF - Pilot for the CIA in Vietnam.
- Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF - Combat pilot in World War II and Vietnam War and recipient of the Air Force Cross.
- Brigadier General Richard Stephen Ritchie, USAF - Only US Air Force ace of the Vietnam War with 5 kills.
- Brigadier General Elliott Roosevelt, USAAF - Son of President Franklin Roosevelt.
- Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, USAF - Pilot of the Enola Gay.
- Brigadier General Chuck Yeager, USAF - Test pilot and first human to break the sound barrier. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Silver Medal.
- Colonel Bernt Balchen, USAF - Pilot of first plane to fly over the South Pole.
- Colonel Gabby Gabreski, USAF - Highest scoring American ace in the European Theater with 34 kills. Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and 13 DFCs.
- Colonel Dick Rutan, USAF - Piloted first unrefueled around the world flight. Recipient of the Silver Star and 5 DFCs.
- Lieutenant Colonel Kim Campbell, USAF - Iraq War A-10 pilot.
- Lieutenant Colonel Albert William Stevens, USAAF - Participant in both the Explorer I and Explorer II stratospheric balloon flights.
- Major Clark Gable, USAAF - Star of Gone with the Wind who flew on five bombing missions during World War II.
- Major Ray Shuey Wetmore, USAAF - High scoring ace during World War II.
- Captain Kenneth H. Dahlberg, USAAF - Distinguished Service Cross recipient and 2 DFCs.
- Captain M.G Hoenes, USAF - Distinguished Blackbird pilot, strategically eliminated enemy German targets under heavy fire.
- Captain Gene Roddenberry, USAAF - Creator of the Star Trek television series and franchise.
- Captain Cal Worthington, USAAF - Car salesman.
- First Lieutenant Jack Valente, USAAF - Longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
United States Marine Corps
- General Keith B. McCutcheon, USMC
- Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen, USMC - First African-American Marine Corps general.
- Lieutenant General William G. Thrash, USMC
- Major General Marion Eugene Carl, USMC - First Marine Corps ace. Recipient of two Navy Crosses and five DFCs.
- Captain Charles S. Whitehouse, USMC - Diplomat, CIA officer and recipient of seven DFCs.
- Admiral Stan Arthur, USN - Vice Chief of Naval Operations and recipient of 11 DFCs.
- Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, USN - Chief of Naval Operations.
- Admiral James L. Holloway III, USN - Chief of Naval Operations.
- Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Admiral Huntington Hardisty, USN - Commander in Chief of United States Pacific Command.
- Vice Admiral Walter E. Carter Jr., USN - President of the United States Naval War College and Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.
- Vice Admiral John T. Hayward, USN - President of the United States Naval War College.
- Lieutenant Stephen Coonts, USN - Author.
- Lieutenant Harold June, USN - Co-pilot of first flight over the South Pole.
- Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., USN - Brother of President John F. Kennedy. Posthumous recipient of the Navy Cross.
- Ensign Jesse L. Brown, USN - First African-American naval aviator. Died during the Korean War.
United States Army
- General Alexander Haig, USA - NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe and Secretary of State.
- General John Galvin, USA - NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.
- General Frederick Kroesen, USA - Combat veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and commander of 7th United States Army.
- General Edward C. Meyer, USA - Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
- General Dennis J. Reimer, USA - Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
- General Roscoe Robinson, Jr., USA - First African-American US Army four star general.
- General Bernard W. Rogers, USA - Chief of Staff of the United States Army and Supreme Allied Commander for NATO.
- General Norman Schwarzkopf, USA - Commander of Operation Desert Storm and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- General Sam S. Walker, USA - Son of General Walton Walker and Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute.
- General Walton Walker, USA - Commander of the 8th Army in Korea and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars and two DFCs.
- General Melvin Zais, USA - Commander of the 101st Infantry Division in Vietnam.
- Lieutenant General David E. Grange, USA - Combat veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and commander of United States Army Pacific.
- Lieutenant General James F. Hollingsworth, USA - Combat veteran of World War II and Vietnam. Recipient of 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, 4 Distinguished Service Medals, 4 Silver Stars, 3 Legions of Merit, the Soldiers Medal and 3 DFCs.
- Major General George Patton IV, USA - Son of General George S. Patton.
- Colonel David Hackworth, USA - Highly decorated Army officer, commentator and author. Recipient of 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, 10 Silver Stars, 8 Bronze Star Medals and 8 Purple Hearts.
- Lieutenant Colonel Bo Gritz, USA - Special Forces officer in Vietnam.
- Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann, USA - Military advisor in Vietnam and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Several highly distinguished military aviators never received the DFC. These include the following -
- Admiral John Thach, USN - Innovative aerial tactician.
- Admiral John Henry Towers, USN - Pacific Fleet Air Force commander during World War II.
- Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, USAAC - Controversial military airpower advocate.
- Captain Thomas J. Hudner, USN - Medal of Honor recipient.
- Lieutenant Colonel Pappy Boyington, USMC - Medal of Honor recipient and legendary combat pilot.
- Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, USAAS - Recipient of the Medal of Honor and seven Distinguished Service Crosses.
- Lieutenant (junior grade) Neil Armstrong, USN - First man to walk on the moon.
- Machinist Floyd Bennett, USN - Medal of Honor recipient and pilot of first plane to fly over the North Pole.
- "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.
- Awarded by Act of Congress March 1, 1933.
- Awarded by Act of Congress July 2, 1932.
- Awarded by Act of Congress July 11, 1932.
- Awarded by Act of Congress in 1949 and presented in 1952.
- Awarded by Act of Congress December 18, 1928.
|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