What separates the Army Distinguished Service medal (DSM) from most others is that it can be awarded to anyone -- military or civilian, U.S. citizen or foreigner -- who has shown exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility while serving the U.S. Army in any capacity. Recipients include filmmaker Frank Capra, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, Chinese Gen. Chiang Kai-shek, suffragette Anna Howard Shaw, actor James Stewart, and test pilot Chuck Yeager.
However, since the medal is principally given to high-ranking officers, recipients include most generals and admirals, including Bradley, Doolittle, Haig, Halsey, Marshall, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nimitz, Patton, Pershing, Powell, and Schwarzkopf. Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower were awarded five each, which remains the record. (They each received a Navy Distinguished Service medal as well.)
This fourth-highest military award was authorized in 1918 in the same legislation that established the Distinguished Service Cross
and the Silver Star
. Each branch of the military has its own DSM, and a fifth version is a senior award given by the Department of Defense.
The medal features the U.S. Coat of Arms in gold in the middle of a circle of dark blue enamel and is inscribed "For Distinguished Service MCMXVIII." On the back is the name of the recipient on a scroll superimposed on a trophy of flags and weapons. It hangs from a bar on a ribbon with a wide white stripe flanked by a scarlet stripe and a narrower ultramarine stripe. Subsequent awards are denoted by oak leaf clusters.