Air Force Combat Action Medal
|Air Force Combat Action Medal|
U.S. Air Force Combat Action Medal
|Awarded by United States Air Force|
|Eligibility||United States Air Force members in the grades of E-1 through O-6 (Airman Basic through Colonel)|
|Awarded for||Active participation in ground or air combat|
|Established||15 March 2007|
|First awarded||12 June 2007|
|Next (higher)||Air Force Achievement Medal|
|Equivalent||Navy-Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon
Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon
|Next (lower)||Air Force Presidential Unit Citation|
|Related||Army Combat Action Badge|
AFCAM service ribbon
The Air Force Combat Action Medal (AFCAM) is a relatively new medal created for the United States Air Force in March 2007 to recognize Air Force members for active participation in ground or air combat.
The AFCAM was first awarded on June 12, 2007 to six Air Force members who were engaged in air or ground combat off base in a combat zone during Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, October 7, 2001-December 28, 2015) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq, March 19, 2003-September 1, 2010). The medal is retroactive from September 11, 2001 to a date to be determined and may be awarded posthumously.
For an airman to wear the AFCAM, members must privide proper documentation to their commander which includes a narrative explanation of the airman's involvement in combat activities to the first O-6 (Colonel) in their operational chain of command on an AF Form 3994. The application will be processed through the chain of command and eventually be approved or disapproved by the Commander of Air Force Forces (COMAFFOR).
Nomination of the award of the AFCAM will be restricted to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who on or after 11 September 2001 were under any of the following conditions:
- Deliberately go into the enemy's domain (outside the wire) to conduct official duties, either on the ground or in the air, and have come under enemy fire by lethal weapons while performing those duties, and are at risk of grave danger.
- While defending the base (inside/on the wire), and must have come under enemy fire and engage the enemy with direct and lethal fire, and are at risk of grave danger.
- Are personnel in ground operations who actively engage the enemy with direct and lethal fires also may qualify even if no direct fire is taken, as long as there was risk of grave danger and meets other criteria.
Retroactive awards prior to 11 September 2001 are not authorized.
The AFCAM has no patch or badge equivalent for wear on the Airman Battle Uniform and other functional uniforms that are worn for daily duties and deployments. It is worn after the Air Force Achievement Medal and before the Air Force Presidential Unit Citation.
The AFCAM may be awarded to members from the other Armed Forces and foreign military members serving in a U.S. Air Force unit, provided they meet the criteria for the award.
According to USAF Memo, 25 June 2015, AFI36-2803, 18 December 2013 (Change 1, 22 June 2015): AFCAM, Authorized Device: A gold star will be worn to recognize subsequent operations when approved by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (pages 148-49). However, in AFI36-2803, gold stars are not included in the AF list of authorized ribbon devices (page 224); service/campaign stars (3⁄16" bronze/silver star) are the only star devices authorized for wear. Also, no ribbon device is authorized for wear in AFI36-2803 to denote subsequent awards of the AFCAM, which normally would be oak leaf clusters. The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard authorizes a 5⁄16" gold star to denote subsequent awards of specific decorations.
Note: This may be the beginning of a first time wearing of a gold star device by a member of the Air Force on any one of their awards: Lieutenant General Tod Wolters, U.S.A.F., publicly wears a 3⁄16" gold star on an AFCAM service ribbon on his uniform since at least September 2013 (the gold star for the AFCAM is not listed on his August 2015 AF biography awards list). Wolters has fought in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In conjunction with the Army Institute of Heraldry, the medal was designed by Susan Gamble, a professional artist and Master Designer for the U.S. Mint, and wife of Mike Gamble, an Air Force colonel. She was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "It was just a real pleasure to give this back to the Air Force that's been part of my life."
Gamble based the silver medal's design and ribbon color (scarlet with ten yellow stripes) from the circular insignia painted on planes which were piloted by Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell, including a French-built SPAD XVI (SPAD 16) fighter aircraft he piloted in France during World War I. His SPAD 16 (single-engine, two-seat, reconnaissance and bomber aircraft) is currently displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.Mitchell is generally known as the father of the U.S. Air Force.
A laurel wreath surrounds the medal's eagle emblem executed in a simple, linear Art Deco style. The eagle with a national flag shield with thirteen perpendicular stripes on its breast faces right, over the right talon clutching arrows (represents the power of war), to reflect that this is a combat medal. The left talon clutches an olive branch (represents the power of peace). The eagle which symbolizes Mitchell's military rank insignia of colonel, has above it a five-pointed star which represents Mitchell's wartime promotion to the temporary rank of brigadier general in October, 1918. The reverse side of the medal contains two rows of words written on a scroll at the center of the eagle, "U.S. Air Force" and "Combat Action".
The ribbon's diagonal stripes at first could not be manufactured in the United States; but military medals cannot be manufactured outside the U.S. This design problem was resolved when a mill in Bally, Pennsylvania, Bally Ribbon Mills, bought a new loom specifically to weave the diagonal stripe. A Rhode Island firm, Ira Green Inc. in Providence, made the metal parts. The AFCAM is the only U.S. military award to have a diagonally patterned ribbon, much like various British awards (such as the Distinguished Flying Cross). The AFCAM service ribbon has five stripes.
First award - June 12, 2007
The AFCAM was presented for the first time to six Airmen (five men and one woman) by the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Teed M. Moseley (now retired), at the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia:
- Maj. Steven A. Raspet of Fountain Valley, California ( for actions on January 8, 2006 at Afghanistan)
- Capt. Allison K. Black of Northport, New York (for actions on December 4, 2001 at Afghanistan)
- Senior Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez of Bridgeport, Connecticut (for actions on March 11, 2004 at Afghanistan)
- Master Sgt. Charlie Peterson of Detroit, Michigan (for actions on July 28, 2004 at Iraq)
- Master Sgt. Byron P. Allen of Birmingham, Alabama (for actions on April 12, 2004 at Iraq)
- Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Paxton of Abingdon, Virginia (for actions on March 28, 2003 at the Kuwait-Iraq border)
First award (posthumous)
The AFCAM was presented posthumously for the first time to:
- A1C Elizabeth Jacobson of Riviera Beach, Florida for action on September 28, 2005 at the Kuwait-Iraq border.
- Air Force Memorandum, AFCAM, pp. 148–49, 25 June 2015  Retrieved April 16, 2016
- "Awards and Decorations". Air Force Personnel Center Library. Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Air Force Combat Action Medal, Air Force Personnel Center, posted 4 August 2010, last accessed 18 March 2013
- Joint Base Andrews, Airmen receive first AF Combat Action Medals, By the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs, 6/12/2007
-  Congressional Research Service, U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Recent Conflicts, February 27, 2015
- "AF Form 3994" (xld). Retrieved 2012-08-11.[clarification needed]
- Air Force releases combat action medal criteria, Air Force Print News, 4/9/2007
- Air Force Memorandum, AFCAM, p. 148-49, 25 June 2015  Retrieved April 16, 2001
- Air Force Memorandum, AFCAM, p. 148-49, 224, 25 June 2015  Retrieved April 16, 2016
- ) Lt. General Tod Wolters, USAF, saluting on September 24, 2013.
-  Lt. General Tod Wolters, USAF, AF photo/biography updated to August 2015,
-  Lt. General Tod Wolters, USAF, AF photo/biography updated to August 2015,
-  Air Force Historical Support Division, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, 9/17/2014
-  Air Force historical Support Division, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, 10/16/2014
- "For Today's Air Force, a New Symbol of Valor" by John Kelly, June 13, 2007. The Washington Post, p. B03. Accessed June 13, 2007.
- Mitchell Gallery of Flight Retrieved April 19, 2016
- This Day in Aviation History, 11 April 1918  Retrieved April 19, 2016
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, SPAD XVI  Retrieved April 17, 2016
- U.S. Army site
- Mitchell Gallery of Flight
- Air Force Special Operations Command, June 22, 2007
- The American Legion, March 23, 2011
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