The Air Force Civilian Achievement Award is the brainchild of Retired Lieutenant General Charles L. Johnson II. After being named Installation Commander of Tinker Air Force Base in April, 2000, then-Brigadier General Johnson made the recognition of superior performance among both military and civilian personnel a top priority.
Reviewing the Air Force’s lineup of civilian awards, Johnson saw there was no certificate, medal, or ribbon in place to honor civilians for a singular achievement that made a significant impact in accomplishing a unit’s mission or goals. In late 2001, he came up with the concept for a Civilian Achievement Award to fill this gap and assigned several career broadeners the job of researching and reviewing Air Force Instructions to craft the award’s eligibility requirements and the language on the certificate accompanying the decoration.
By the spring of 2002, the Army’s Institute of Heraldry—the final approval authority for all new medals regardless of which service branch will be issuing it—had signed off on the new medal. The circular medal features the same imagery as the Air Force Commendation Medal, while the ribbon’s design was clearly inspired by the Air Force Achievement Medal.
The Civilian Achievement Award can be granted to a single individual or a group of civilian employees who complete important projects or achieve major milestones and whose service clearly exceeded what would be normally expected from other individuals or groups with similar duties and responsibilities. It may be awarded to civilians while they are on detail or temporary assignment, and it is also appropriate for presentation at retirement.