There were several compelling reasons for the United States Air Force decided to establish an Achievement Medal in October, 1980. One was the paucity of decorations that could be earned by young Airmen coming into the service, particularly compared to the number of medals and awards that had been available as a result of the Vietnam War. A second, closely related argument for a new medal was that, in order to compensate for the lack of awards that could be given to junior officers and enlisted Airmen, awarding authorities were issuing Air Force Commendation Medals on a more frequent basis than seemed plausible, thus diminishing its prestige. Finally, it would bring the Air Force in line with the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, all of which had Achievement Medals designed specifically to recognize meritorious service or outstanding achievements by junior officers and enlisted personnel.

Thanks to the well-considered regulations regarding the Air Force Achievement Medal (AFAM), its establishment did indeed address all these issues. Awarded to Air Force personnel for outstanding achievement or meritorious service that rendered on behalf of the Air Force that do not rise to the requirements spelled out for the Air Force Commendation Medal, it can be awarded only to enlisted personnel and officers at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or below.

Other restrictions on the AFAM include a prohibition on it being awarded to the same recipient more than once in a twelve-month period (except under extraordinary circumstances), for aerial achievement (there is a distinct award for that), or simply for retirement.

Authorized devices for wear with the AFAM are Oak Leaf Clusters (for additional awards beyond the initial AFAM) and the “V” device for acts of valor in a contingency deployment subsequent to 11 January 1996. In 2016, the Department of Defense removed authorization for the ”V” device, replacing it with the “C” Combat Conditions and “R” Remote Operations devices. Intended to recognize the contributions to combat and military operations made by Airmen situated far from the action and not exposed to hostile action, the “R” device is awarded only if their actions had an immediate and direct impact on those operations. The “C” device indicates the AFAM was awarded for service or achievement under combat conditions, which includes exposure to hostile action or significant risk of exposure to hostile action.

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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Salute Industries Inc, proud maker of The Salute Uniforms.
105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.