Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal

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Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal
Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal line drawing.png
Obverse and reverse of the medal
Awarded by United States Maritime Administration
TypeIndividual Award
EligibilityMerchant Marine seamen
Awarded forOutstanding conduct or service in the line of duty.
EstablishedApril 11, 1943[1]
Total awarded152
Next (lower)Merchant Marine Meritorious Service Medal
Merchant Marine Distinguished Service ribbon.svg
Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal ribbon

The Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal is a decoration of the United States Merchant Marine (USMM). The decoration is the highest award which can be bestowed upon members of that service and is the service’s equivalent of the Medal of Honor; since mariners serving in the United State Merchant Marine are not employed by the Department of Defense, they are not eligible for the Medal of Honor. It is awarded to any seaman in the USMM who, on or after September 3, 1939, has distinguished himself during the war by outstanding conduct or service in the line of duty. Regulations state that not more than one medal shall be issued to any one seaman, but for each succeeding instance sufficient to justify the award of a medal, there will be awarded a suitable insignia to be worn with the medal.

As the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal is considered a federal service decoration, it may be worn on the uniforms of active, reserve and retired uniformed service members.

United States Merchant Marine Academy awardees[edit]

  • Midshipman Francis A. Dales
  • Midshipman Elmer C. Donnelly
  • Midshipman Edwin Joseph O'Hara - awarded posthumously
  • Midshipman Walter G. Sittmann
  • Midshipman William M. Thomas, Jr.[1]
  • Midshipman Phil Cox Vannais
  • Midshipman Frederick R. Zito
  • Midshipman Carl M. Medved
  • Third Mate Edward Michael Fetherston


Other awardees[edit]

  • Captain Elis R. Johanson
  • First Officer Clinton Harriman
  • Third Officer Karl Lonsdale
  • Yeoman Storekeeper Robert Griffin,
  • 2nd Asst. Engineer Michael Saltwick
  • Fireman Watertender Hermino Rivera
  • Oiler Epifanio Rodriguez
  • Third Officer Frederick August Larsen Jr.
  • Chief Engineer Albert M. Boe
  • Chief Engineer Thomas J. McTaggart
  • Radio Operator Kenneth W. Maynard
  • Master Paul H. Browne

In addition, the above six Mariners were also awarded the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Medal.

Design notes and description[edit]

Designed by Paul Manship, subsequent awards of the medal are represented by 5/16th inch gold stars affixed to both the suspension ribbon and the ribbon bar. Original awards have P. M. on the reverse of the suspension device.

The medal is in gold-plate with a diameter of 41.9mm. It is composed of a silver 8-point ball tip star superimposed on a gold compass with a square eagle-anchor suspension device. The ribbon is blue, white, red, white, blue.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cadet-Midshipman William M. Thomas Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal". Retrieved 2018-09-28.
  2. ^ "Merchant Marine Heroes - Citations for Distinguished Service Medal during World War II".

External links[edit]