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Awards and decorations of the United States Military are military decorations which recognize service and personal accomplishments while a member of the United States armed forces. Together with military badges, such awards are a means to outwardly display the highlights of a service member's career.

A military decoration is a decoration given to military personnel or units for heroism in battle or distinguished service. They are designed to be worn on military uniform.

Several new medals, badges and awards were introduced during WWII. Items such as paratrooper wings, glider wings, campaign medals were created during the conflict. many of these designs remain in use today.

A campaign medal is a military decoration which is awarded to a member of the military who serves in a designated military operation or performs duty in a geographical theater. Campaign medals are very similar to service medals but carry a higher status as the award usually involves deployment to a foreign region or service in a combat zone.

This page provides a comprehensive study of the various medals, badges and awards that were employed during WWII. The photographs and information allow for the identification of the medals and badges. A comprehensive price evaluation outlines what the collectibles are worth in today's market. Provided to you courtesy of MilitaryItems.com , a provider of military antiques and collectibles for education facilities, museums and the public in general.

The same type of medal can have different manufacturing characteristics.

Purple Heart View Variations
Bronze Star View variations
Air Medal View variations
Good Conduct Medal View variations

The medals of the US armed forces have gone through a series of manufacturing changes over the years. This section provides a comprehensive study of such changes.

Medal Construction
Purchasing US medals
US medal markings


Decorations have been known since ancient times. Celts and Romans wore a torc, Dayaks wore and still wear tattoos, etc. Necklaces and bracelets were given during the early Middle Ages, evolving into richly jewelled big necklaces, often with a pendant (commonly a medal) attached.

WWII US AMERICAN DEFENSE MEDAL - This medal was approved on February 28th 1941. The design consists of a yellow ribbon with two sets of stripes at each side. shows a lady with shield and sword.

WWII US NAVY OCCUPATION MEDAL - After the Axis countries were defeated American forces were sent to the variouis countries to ensure a peaceful transition. The medal featured here was awarded to soldiers who served in the occupation.

EUROPEAN-AFRICAN-MIDDLE EASTERN CAMPAIGN MEDAL - Formally instituted in 1942. The medal was awarded to individuals who served in the European and African theaters between 1941 and 1945.

WWII ARMY AIR FORCE AIR MEDAL - This medal comes with the issued "coffin" box. The medal was given to personnel who engaged in combat actions. Instituted in 1942.

WWII SILVER STAR MEDAL - Complete with the "Coffin" issue box. The medal comes with the separate ribbon. Issued for barvery in the face of combat.

WWII BRONZE STAR MEDAL - This medal has a burgandy ribbon with a blue stripe down the center. A white stripe is placed to each side of the blue one. The medal is in the shape of a 5 pointed star.

WWII USMC EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL - This is a half brooch design. The ribbon has a series of gold pin stripes with a thick burgandy band down the center. Feature Marine in advancing pose in the front.

WWII STATE OF NEW YORK VETERAN'S MEDAL - Several states developed special medals to be awarded to veteran's from the state. The sample shown here is one of those medals. Complete with metal device. - Coming soon

WWII MERIT MEDAL - This is a US Army merit medal. Complete with teh coffin box. Burgandy color ribbon.

WWII MEDAL GROUPING - This is a grouping belonging to a soldier. Medals inlcude the Purplr Heart, Bronze Star and Good Conduct. The back of the awards are engraved with the person's name.

WWII LEGION OF MERIT MEDAL - This is a WWII Legion of Merit medal with the award document. Includes the black coffin box.

WWII SELECTIVE SERVICE MEDAL - This is a selective service medal. Yellow ribbon with blue stripes. Complete with the black coffin box.

WWII US PURPLE HEART NAMED MEDAL - This is a US Purple Heart medal. Complete with the black coffin box.

WWII US NAVY GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL - This is a US Navy Good Conduct medal. Named in back. Dated 1945.

WWII US VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS MEDAL - This is a medal that was given to American ex-military personnel who were members of the VFW.


The following section provides highlights about the medals that were issued to enlisted men and officers during WWII. If you are a begining collector or simply want to learn more about the medals of WWII this is a good starting point.

1) When soldiers were transported to the front, Whether it is the Pacific or European theaters, a limited number of medals were shipped with the group.

2) If a soldier earned an award in the battle field but none were available. The soldier would recieve the citation for the award. Once he or she went back to tge states it was up to the soldier to go to the proper branch of the armed forces and get the medal.

3) If the soldier was killed in action his branch of service would make the effort to give the surviving relatives the medal(s).

The medal ribbons were worn on the left side of the breast. They were displayed from left to right according to the grade of the medal. The higest medal was placed on the top left followed in descendent order.
For every medal there is a medal ribbon. The color and pattern of both ribbons will match.


The United States armed forces employed a variety of badges to indicate the branch of the service and rank. The following section analyzes some of the badges employed during World War Two. The different types covered include Hat badges, collar insignia, general awards, etc.

WWII RIFLE PROFICIENCY BADGE - This is a US Army proficiency award. There were three classes available. A device is attached at the bottom to indicate the weapon or skill the soldier has mastered.

WWII US ARMY COMBAT MEDIC INSIGNIA - This award was issued to combat medics. The design consists of a stretcher surrounded by a wreath. A cadeuce is placed at the center.

WWII US ARMY COMBAT MEDIC INSIGNIA - Of Sterling construction. Pin-back design. Consisting of an oval wreath with a stretcher in the center. A cross with Caduces just below.

WWII US HONORABLE DISCHARGE BUTTON - Also known as the Ruptured Duck. The button was given to soldiers who completed their tour of duty honorably. It was meant to be worn on the uniform to indicate the person was no longer active.

WWII MERCHANT MARINE INSIGNIA - This is a pin that was issued to Merchant Marines in recognition for their services. Of metal construction. Two piece design. A wreath with an eagle imposed over it.

WWII US NAVY SUBMARINE INSIGNIA - This pin was earned by sailors who successfully completed submariner training. Of Sterling silver construction. Pin-back type. The design consists of two dolphins flanking a ship.

WWII US ARMY 2nd LIUTENANT RANK - Rectangular bars with a pin on back. Of sterling construction.

WWII US AAF ENLISTED MAN COLLAR DISC - The design consists of a metal circle having a propellor in the center with a wing to each side. The insignia comes in the original cardboard.

WWII US COASTAL ARTILLERY COLLAR DISC - Also known as brass due to its color. The design consists of a flat circle with two crossed canons in the center. At the intersection points is an oval with a bullet.

WWII US AAF ENLISTED MAN COLLAR DISC = This is another example of the Army Air Corps collar insignia. It is found in the original carton. Round disc with the AAF logo at the center.

WWII COMBAT INFANTRY BADGE - Of Sterling construction. This is a First class award. Very hard to find pin-back construction. - Coming soon

WWII US NAVY SUBMARINE BADGE - This is the badge issued to sailors after completing submariner school. Of metal construction with a pin-back machine.

WWII US MARINE CORPS SHOOTING BADGE - This is a shooting award issued by the US Marine Corps in the early days of the war.

WWII US NEW YORK 105TH COLLAR DISC - This is a US collar disc insignia. New York based. 105th group. Of metal construction.

WWII US MEYER MAJOR INSIGNIA - This is a US Major insignia. Manufactured by the Meyer company. Pin-back construction.

WWII US MAJOR INSIGNIA - This is a US Major insignia. Pin-back construction. Not marked. Pin-back type.

WWII US MEYER MAJOR INSIGNIA - This is a US Major insignia. Manufactured by Meyer. Should-R-Form marked in back.


All branches of the military . Some of the WWII hat insignia were marked Sterling. This section of the site is dedicated to the study of military Distinctive Insignia. Several examples are provided.

WWII US NAVY OVERSEAS HAT EMBLEM - Of metal construction. the design consists of the navy eagle with spread wings sitting atop a shield where two anchors crossed.

WWII US NAVY OVERSEAS HAT INSIGNIA - This is another example of the US Navy hat insignia. Of metal construction. Pin back design. The manufacturer's marking is stamp in back.

WWII US NAVY HAT INSIGNIA - Of Sterling construction. The design consists of an anhor with a rope in the shape of a letter S. Silver letters USN are placed in front as a separate piece.

WWII US ARMY OFFICER'S HAT EAGLE - Gold colored American eagle with a circular device above the head. A single threaded stud is found on the back. Attaches to an Army officer's hat.

WWII US AAF CADET HAT INSIGNIA - The design consists of a large propellor with a wing attached to each side. The wings are gold in color while the prop is silver.

WWII US ATC HAT INSIGNIA - The design consists of a shield in the center with wings pointing up. The letters ATC a found on the upper section.


Soldiers were issued insignia to indicate the group to which they belonged. This is knownas Distinctive Insignia (DI). Some of the distinctive insignia were pin-back design while others were clutch back. Most of the WWII insignia were marked Sterling. This section of the site is dedicated to the study of military Distinctive Insignia. Several examples are provided.

WWII 66th INFANTRY DIVISION DI's - Of sterling construction. Round shape with an enameled front. The face of a panther is displayed on each disc. Pin-back type.

WWII US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS - This is the officer's class with the cut-out design. Consisting of a castle with the unit number of 658 found on top.

WWII US ARMY 81st INFANTRY DIVISION - This is a DI worn on the dress tunic. Circular design with a yellow background. Displays prancing cat in front.

1930 TO 1937 USMC ENLISTED MAN EGA - The design does not have the rope and shows a world with lattitude and longitude grids.

1930's USMC ENLISTED MAN EGA - Of metal construction. Worn on the collar of the dress tunic. The globe shows the longitude and latitude grids.

ARMY AIR FORCE PREP DI - Consisting of a vlue shield with a red bird on top. A fist clenching lightning bolts is displayed in the center.

ARMY TRAINING DI - Of pop metal construction. Two pieces put together with a hollowed center. Shoes a gobblet with a scroll in the bottom that reads "Sustined alas".


Pilots and crew members from the US Army Air Corps and the US Navy were issued wings upon completion of assigned training. Some of the wings were pin-back design while others were clutch back. Most of the WWII wings were marked Sterling. This section of the site is dedicated to the study of military wings. Several examples are provided.

WWII US NAVY PILOT WINGS - This is a set of wimgs manufactured by the Meyer company. Pin-back construction. Nicely marked.

WWII US NAVY PILOT WINGS - This is a set of pin-back wings. Manufactured by H&H. Marked 1/20 Gold Filled. Stamped with number 307.

WWII US ARMY AIR FORCE NAVIGATOR WINGS - This is a set of clurch back wings. They are not marked. Issued to navigators in bomber aircraft.

WWII US ARMY AIR FORCE WINGS - This set of wings has a rectangular base attached to the back. It is marked on the base. Pin-back construction.

WWII US NAVY PILOT WINGS - This is a set of wings manufactured by the Amico company. Clutch back construction.

WWII AWS WINGS PIN - Issued by the US Army Air Force. The pin consists of a white enamel circle with a wing to each side. The letters AWS are found inside the circle.

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