Although there are Achievement medals for each branch of the Armed Forces
(as well as one for Joint Service
), the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal (NAM), established in 1961, was the first. It is awarded to junior officers or enlisted personnel—including Reserves on active or inactive duty—for meritorious service or achievement in either combat or non-combat situations. It can be based on either sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature; local commanders decide when and under what circumstances the medal is given.
Professional achievement that merits the NAM must exceed what would normally be required or expected considering the grade/rate, training, and experience of the recipient as well as being an important contribution or benefit to the Naval Service and the United States. Leadership achievement earning the medal should be noteworthy; be sustained and thus demonstrating a high level of development or a meritorious specific achievement; and/or be a major reason for the success of a unit mission. The Achievement medal is not, however, awarded for participation in aerial flight (after January 1, 1969), unless it was incidental in the service or action for which the medal is awarded.
Designed by the Institute of Heraldry, the NAM medal is a bronze square with a star in each clipped corner. In the center is a "fouled" anchor, one that has been hooked on an impediment or had its cable wound around the anchor's stock or flukes. The recipient's name is engraved on the medal's blank back.
The medal hangs from a myrtle green ribbon with a narrow orange stripe near each edge. Gold stars are given for subsequent awards, and a bronze "V" for "valor" denotes a medal given for direct hazardous participation in a combat operation. In precedence, the NAM medal comes between the higher-ranking Joint Service Achievement medal and the lower-ranking Combat Action