Back in 1968, a concern arose that the Legion of Merit was being awarded too often, diminishing its prestige. What was needed was a new medal, one that would be an equivalent to the Bronze Star, but recognizing non-combat achievement or service. Lyndon Johnson signed the executive order that established the Meritorious Service medal a year later, and Ronald Reagan amended its criteria in 1981 so recipients could include the military of friendly foreign nations.
Originally an award for peacetime activity, it was decided after 9/11 that it could also be given instead of the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in a designated combat theatre. 
In the Army and Air Force, recipients typically are Field-Grade officers (O-4 to O-6) Senior Field-Grade Warrant Officers (W-5) , and Senior NCOs. They're recognized for their performance in those roles or, in the case of Field-Grade Officers, for exemplary completion of a command tour at the battalion or squadron level.
The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard usually award the medal to Senior Officers—Captains and Commanders in the Navy and Coast Guard, Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels in the Corps—although exceptions have been made for lower-ranking officers and/or retiring personnel.
Jay Morris of the Institute of Heraldry designed the complex bronze medal. The top half consists of six rays superimposed with the upper half of a five-pointed star, which in turn is etched with two smaller stars. The bottom of the medal is covered with bas-relief laurel leaves issuing from branches held in the talons of an eagle with outstretched wings. The laurel leaves represent achievement, the star denotes military service, and the rays, the effort of excellent service.
The medal hangs on a ribbon intentionally designed with the same colors as the Legion of Merit to show the connection between the two. Its plum ribbon features a white stripe one-eighth inch from either end. 
Additional awards are recognized by bronze oak-leaf clusters (silver clusters are worn in place of five bronze) for the Army and Air Force and gold stars (silver for six or more) for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. In early 2017, the Pentagon announced the establishment of a "R" device to be awarded to Meritorious Service recipients who directly and immediately affected the outcome of an engagement or a strike upon a target by employing weapons systems or engaging in other warfighting activities at a remote location where they did not run personal risk from combat.

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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105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.