Medal for Merit

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Medal for Merit
Medal, decoration (AM 2005.56.1-11).jpgMedal, decoration (AM 2005.56.1-12).jpg
Obverse and reverse of the Medal for Merit
TypeSingle grade decoration
Awarded forExceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during World War II
Country United States
Presented byPresident of the United States
EligibilityCivilians of the United States and allied nations
StatusNo longer awarded
Established20 July 1942[1]
First awarded28 March 1944[2]
Last awarded1952
Medal for Merit ribbon bar.svg
Ribbon bar of the medal
Next (higher)None (At the time of its awarding)
Next (lower)Medal of Freedom

The Medal for Merit was, during the period it was awarded, the highest civilian decoration of the United States. It was awarded by the President of the United States to civilians who "distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services" in the war effort "since the proclamation of an emergency by the President on September 8, 1939". Awards to civilians of foreign nations were eligible "only for the performance of exceptionally meritorious or courageous act or acts in furtherance of the war efforts of the United Nations."[1]

The medal is made of gold-finished bronze and enamel and is worn on the left chest from a ribbon.[3]


The Medal for Merit was created by Public Law 77-671 and its awarding codified by Executive Order 9286 - Medal for Merit on 24 December 1942, later amended and restated by Executive Order 9857A of 27 May 1947. Created during World War II, and awarded to "civilians of the nations prosecuting the war under the joint declaration of the United Nations and of other friendly foreign nations", the medal has not been awarded since 1952.[3]

The first medals were awarded to John C. Garand and Albert Hoyt Taylor on 28 March 1944.[2]

The Medal for Merit is currently listed as seventh in order of precedence of U.S. civilian decorations, below the Silver Lifesaving Medal and above the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.[4]

Civilians of foreign nations could receive the award for the performance of an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act or acts in furtherance of the war efforts of the Allies against the Axis Powers. The first person to receive this medal who was not an American citizen was Sir Edward Wilfred Harry Travis Director of the British Government Code and Cypher School in World War II, on 12 January 1946. The next foreign civilian to receive the medal was Edgar Sengier, the director of the Belgian Union Minière du Haut Katanga during World War II. Sengier was awarded the Medal for Merit on 9 April 1946.[5] The next foreign civilian to receive the medal was the Canadian spymaster William Stephenson in November 1946.[6] Stephenson had the code name "Intrepid" during World War II. Some writers consider Stephenson to be one of the real life inspirations for the fictitious character "James Bond". Another recipient was Sir Robert Watson-Watt, a British pioneer of radar, who created a chain of radar stations around the UK which enabled advance information to be available to the Royal Air Force of incoming German aircraft and was instrumental in the winning of the 1940 Battle of Britain. He was sent to the US in 1941 to advise on air defense, after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. He was awarded the US Medal for Merit in 1946.

All proposed awards were considered by the Medal for Merit Board, consisting of three members appointed by the president, of whom one was appointed as the chairman of the board. This medal cannot be awarded for any action relating to the prosecution of World War II after the end of hostilities (as proclaimed by Proclamation No. 2714 of 31 December 1946), and no proposal for this award for such services could be submitted after 30 December 1946. The last medal of this type was awarded in 1952 after a long delay in processing.

Notable recipients[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 77th Congress of the United States. "Public Law 77-671 To create the decorations to be known as the Legion of Merit, and the Medal for Merit". Archived from the original on 2020-12-30. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  2. ^ a b c d "Scientific Notes and News". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 99 (2571): 276. 1944-04-07. doi:10.1126/science.99.2571.276. Archived from the original on 2022-02-26. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  3. ^ a b The Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America, p. 344, at Google Books
  4. ^ "5301 - 5319 Awards". MyNavy HR. United States Navy. Archived from the original on 2021-12-28. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  5. ^ "War Department: Recommendation for award of Medal for Merit to Edgar Edouard Sengier. Center for Research Libraries" (pdf). p. 68. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  6. ^ "Briton receives medal for merit Sir William S. Stephenson (second from right), wartime British security coordinator for the Western hermisphere, receives the Medal for Merit, highest honor the United States can grant a non-citizen, Nov. 30, in a New York ceremony. Presentation of the medal is made by Major General William J. Donovan (left), wartime chief of the Office of Strategic Services, in the presence of Col. G. Edward Buxton, wartime assistant O.S.S. director (second from left), and Lady Stephenson, the former Mary Simmons, of Springfield, Tenn. Col. Buxton's home is in Providence, R.I." (still image). 1946. hdl:loc.pnp/ds.02087. Archived from the original on 2019-06-24. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  7. ^ "Citation Accompanying Medal for Merit Awarded to Dean Acheson". The American Presidency Project. 1947-06-30. Archived from the original on 2022-02-26. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  8. ^ Gibson, R. E. (1980). "Leason Heberling Adams 1887—1969, A Biographical Memoir" (PDF). National Academy of Sciences. p. 9. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  9. ^ a b c d "Presidential Medal for Merit. February 2, 1948. - Published Papers and Official Documents - Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement". Oregon State University. Archived from the original on 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  10. ^ a b c Written at Los Angeles. "Millikan, son, aide get medals of merit". New York Times. New York City (published 1949-03-22). 1949-03-21. Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  11. ^ Durand, William (1953). Adventures; In the Navy, In Education, Science, Engineering, and in War; A Life Story. American Society of Mechanical Engineers and McGraw-Hill. p. 153. ISBN 9780835752039. LCCN 53002031. OCLC 1216197 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes. Vol. 81 (1955 ed.). London: Kelly's Directories. 1955. p. 802. LCCN 08005253. OCLC 660092690.
  13. ^ Fenner, Frank (1996). "Florey, Howard Walter (Baron Florey) (1898–1968)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 14. Melbourne University Press. pp. 188–190. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  14. ^ Getting, Ivan A.; Christie, John M. (1994). "David Tressel Griggs" (PDF). Biographical Memoirs. Vol. 64. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. pp. 112–133. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-02-06. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  15. ^ "Clarence Hickman and Charles Stoddard Papers, 1886-1999" (PDF). Indiana Historical Society. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-09-02. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  16. ^ Engel, Helen Butterfield; Smiley, Marilynn J., eds. (2013-03-05). Remarkable Women in New York State History. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. ISBN 978-1-60949-966-2. OCLC 823041790 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ Read, Phyllis J.; Witlieb, Bernard (1992). The Book of Women's Firsts: Breakthrough Achievements of Almost 1,000 American Women. Random House Information Group. ISBN 978-0-679-40975-5. OCLC 1147994498 – via Google Books. Mary Shotwell Ingraham was the First woman to receive a U.S. Medal of Merit (1946); a founder of the United Service Organizations (USO) (1941). As a founder and former vice president of the USO (an organization that supplies social, recreational, and welfare facilities for the armed services), Ingraham was awarded the Medal for Merit by President Harry S. Truman.
  18. ^ Official Congressional Directory: 83d Congress, 1st Session. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1953
  19. ^ Dicke, William (1982-10-25). "Dillon S. Myer, Who Headed War Relocation Agency, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2020-08-28. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  20. ^ "Dr. Richard Roberts, 69, Pioneer As Physicist and Microbiologist". New York Times. 1980-04-07. Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  21. ^ "Thomas J. Watson Sr. Is Dead; I.B.M. Board Chairman Was 82". The New York Times. 1956-06-20. p. 1. Retrieved 2015-01-10.

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