Distinguished Service Cross (United States)

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Distinguished Service Cross
Army distinguished service cross medal.jpg
Current Distinguished Service Cross
Awarded by the Department of the Army[1]
TypeMilitary medal
(Decoration)
Eligibility"Distinguishes himself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the Medal of Honor; while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States."
Awarded forExtraordinary heroism not justifying the Medal of Honor; and the act or acts of heroism must have been so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his or her comrades.
StatusCurrently awarded
Statistics
First awarded2 January 1918
Total awarded13,462[2]
Precedence
Next (higher)Medal of Honor
EquivalentNavy and Marine Corps: Navy Cross
Air Force: Air Force Cross
Coast Guard: Coast Guard Cross
Unit award: Presidential Unit Citation
Civilian: Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor[3]
Next (lower)Distinguished Service Medals: Defense
Homeland Security
Army
Navy
Air Force
Coast Guard
Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg

US-DSC-OBVERSE-TWO.png    US-DSC-REVERSE.png
Distinguished Service Cross Ribbon (above)
Obverse of the original cross & Reverse of current cross (below)

The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army (and previously the United States Air Force), for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not meet the criteria for the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is equivalent to the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps), the Air Force Cross (Air Force), and the Coast Guard Cross (Coast Guard).

The Distinguished Service Cross was first awarded during World War I. In addition, a number of awards were made for actions before World War I. In many cases, these were to soldiers who had received a Certificate of Merit for gallantry which, at the time, was the only other honor for gallantry the Army could award, or recommend a Medal of Honor. Others were belated recognition of actions in the Philippines, during the Boxer Rebellion and on the Mexican Border. The Distinguished Service Cross is distinct from the Distinguished Service Medal, which is awarded to persons in recognition of exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility. The Distinguished Service Cross is only awarded for actions in combat, while the Distinguished Service Medal has no such restriction.

Description[edit]

A cross of bronze, 2 inches (5.1 cm) high and 1 1316 inches (46 mm) wide with an eagle on the center and a scroll below the eagle bearing the inscription "FOR VALOR". On the reverse side, the center of the cross is circled by a wreath with a space for engraving the name of the recipient.

Service ribbon[edit]

The service ribbon is 1 38 inches (35 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes:

  • 18 inch (3.2 mm) Old Glory Red 67156;
  • 116 inch (1.6 mm) White 67101;
  • 1 inch (25 mm) Imperial Blue 67175;
  • 116 inch (1.6 mm) White;
  • 18 inch (3.2 mm) Old Glory Red.

Criteria[edit]

The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army (or in the Air Force before 1960), distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of a Medal of Honor; while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing/foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing Armed Force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The act or acts of heroism must have been so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his or her comrades.[4]

Components[edit]

The following are authorized components of the Distinguished Service Cross:

  1. Decoration (regular size): MIL-D-3943/4. NSN 8455-00-269-5745 for decoration set. NSN 8455-00-246-3827 for individual replacement medal.
  2. Decoration (miniature size): MIL-D-3943/4. NSN 8455-00-996-50007.
  3. Ribbon: MIL-R-11589/50. NSN 8455-00-252-9919.
  4. Lapel Button (a colored enameled replica of service ribbon): MIL-L-11484/1. NSN 8455-00-253-0808.

Additional awards of the Army's Distinguished Service Cross are denoted with oak leaf clusters.

Background[edit]

The Distinguished Service Cross was established by President Woodrow Wilson on January 2, 1918. General Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Forces in France, had recommended that recognition other than the Medal of Honor be authorized for the Armed Forces of the United States for valorous service rendered in like manner to that awarded by the European Armies. The request for establishment of the medal was forwarded from the Secretary of War to the President in a letter dated December 28, 1917. The Act of Congress establishing this award (193-65th Congress), dated July 9, 1918, is contained in 10 U.S.C. § 3742. The establishment of the Distinguished Service Cross was promulgated in War Department General Order No. 6, dated January 12, 1918.[5]

The Distinguished Service Cross was originally designed by J. Andre Smith, an artist employed by the United States Army during World War I.[6] The Distinguished Service Cross was first cast and manufactured by the United States Mint at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The die was cast from the approved design prepared by Captain Aymar E. Embury II, Engineers Officer Reserve Corps. Upon examination of the first medals struck at the Mint, it was considered advisable to make certain minor changes to add to the beauty and the attractiveness of the medal. Due to the importance of the time element involved in furnishing the decorations to General Pershing, one hundred of the medals were struck from the original design. These medals were furnished with the provision that these crosses be replaced when the supply of the second design was accomplished.

10 U.S.C. § 3991 provides for a 10% increase in retired pay for enlisted personnel who have retired with more than 20 years of service if they have been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Order of precedence and wear of decorations is contained in Army Regulation (AR) 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority, supply, and issue of decorations is contained in AR 600-8-22.

Awarding history[edit]

World War I[edit]

General Hanson Ely decorates soldiers with the Distinguished Service Cross in December 1918.

During World War I, 6,309 awards of the Distinguished Service Cross were made to 6,185 recipients. Several dozen Army soldiers, as well as eight marines and two French Army officers, received two Distinguished Service Crosses.

A handful, mostly Air Service aviators, were decorated three or more times. Eddie Rickenbacker, the top U.S. ace of the war, was awarded a record eight Distinguished Service Crosses, one of which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor, while flying with the 94th Aero Squadron. Fellow aviators Douglas Campbell, also of the 94th, and Frank O'Driscoll "Monk" Hunter of the 103rd Aero Squadron each received five. Another 94th aviator, Reed McKinley Chambers, was awarded four Distinguished Service Crosses. Three aviators received three Distinguished Service Crosses—Murray K. Guthrie of the 13th Aero Squadron, Ralph A. O'Neill of the 147th Aero Squadron, and Glen A. Preston,[7] an aerial observation pilot with the 99th Aero Squadron. Among other prominent aviators were Billy Mitchell, the Chief of Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force; Frank Luke of the 27th Aero Squadron, who was honored with the Medal of Honor and two Distinguished Service Crosses; and Sumner Sewall of the 95th Aero Squadron, recipient of two Distinguished Service Crosses, who served as Governor of Maine from 1941 to 1945. Edward Peck Curtis, also of the 95th Aero Squadron received the Distinguished Service Cross as a First Lieutenant.

Colonel John H. Parker, the commander of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Division, was the only ground soldier in World War I to receive four Distinguished Service Crosses. First Lieutenant Oscar B. Nelson of the 168th Infantry Regiment, 42nd Division, was honored three times, the third award being posthumous.[8]

Several men who had previously received the Medal of Honor received the Distinguished Service Cross in World War I. Most notable of these was Marine legend Daniel Daly, who was twice decorated with the Medal of Honor, and who received the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism as First Sergeant of the 73rd Company, Sixth Marine Regiment, during the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918. Col. Charles Evans Kilbourne, Jr., who received the Medal of Honor in the Philippine Insurrection, was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross as chief of staff of the 89th Division. James B. McConnell, also decorated with the Medal of Honor for actions in the Philippines as a private with the 33rd Infantry, received the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously as a first lieutenant with the 4th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division.

Marine Colonel Hiram I. Bearss, recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Philippines, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross while attached to the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Division. Marine Gunner Henry L. Hulbert, also a recipient of the Navy Medal of Honor in the Philippines, received the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery while serving with the Fifth Marine Regiment during the Battle of Belleau Wood. Spanish–American War Medal of Honor recipient John H. Quick also received the Distinguished Service Cross at Belleau Wood as Sergeant Major of the Sixth Marine Regiment.

Besides Rickenbacker, several men received both the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross during World War I. Navy recipients were John Henry Balch, a U.S. Navy Pharmacist's Mate, and Joel T. Boone, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant (Medical Corps), both attached to the Sixth Marine Regiment. Army recipients were Private Daniel R. Edwards of the 3rd Machine-Gun Battalion, 1st Division, Colonel William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan of the 165th Infantry Regiment, 42nd Division, and Second Lieutenant Samuel I. Parker of the 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division.

Two recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross during World War I went on to earn the Medal of Honor in World War II – Major (later Brigadier General) Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. of the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, son of the former President, and Brigadier General (later General of the Army) Douglas MacArthur of the 42nd Division. Other recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross in World War I who went on to acclaim in World War II include George S. Patton, Jr. and Carl Spaatz.

Among other prominent recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross during World War I were Brigadier General John L. Hines, decorated as commanding general of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, and Major General Charles P. Summerall, decorated as commanding general of the 1st Division, who both went on to serve as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. Private Sam Ervin of the 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, went on to serve as a United States Senator from the state of North Carolina. Major Dwight F. Davis, decorated as Assistant Chief of Staff of the 69th Infantry Brigade, 35th Division, founded the Davis Cup international tennis competition and served as United States Secretary of War in the Coolidge Administration. Father John B. DeValles, chaplain (first lieutenant), known as the Angel of the Trenches for administering to the needs of both Allied and German soldiers. He founded the first Portuguese parochial school at the Espirito Santo Church in Fall River, Massachusetts. B. Caroll Reece, decorated as a First Lieutenant with the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Division, went on to represent the state of Tennessee in the United States House of Representatives for a total of 17 terms. Twenty one African American soldiers from the 370th Infantry Regiment received the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for action in both the Meuse–Argonne and Oise–Aisne campaigns.[9]

Between the World Wars[edit]

In the immediate aftermath of World War I, 62 awards were made for actions in North Russia and Siberia during the Russian Civil War. Also, approximately 132 retroactive awards were made for actions in previous conflicts, including the Indian Wars, the Spanish–American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Mexican border conflicts. Fifteen soldiers previously awarded Certificates of Merit for non-combat gallantry between 1899 and 1917 were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Prominent among post-World War I Distinguished Service Cross recipients for acts before that war was J. Franklin Bell, Chief of Staff of the Army from 1906 to 1910. A recipient of the Medal of Honor during the Philippine Insurrection, in 1925 he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for bravery in the Spanish–American War in 1898. In 1920, Peyton C. March, then serving as Chief of Staff of the Army, was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for bravery in the Philippines during the Spanish–American War when he was a 1st lieutenant. March's successor, John J. Pershing, received a Distinguished Service Cross in 1941 for bravery during the Philippine Insurrection. 2nd Lieutenant Gordon Johnston and Corporal Arthur M. Ferguson, both Medal of Honor recipients for the Philippine Insurrection, were also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for other acts of bravery in the Philippines. Future Governor of American Samoa Otto Dowling received the cross for displaying bravery while responding to a fire at Lake Denmark Powder Depot, which he commanded at the time.[10]

Among the recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross for Siberia and North Russia were Robert L. Eichelberger, who would earn a second medal in World War II, and Sidney C. Graves, who had previously received a Distinguished Service Cross in World War I.[11]

World War II[edit]

During World War II, just over 5,000 awards were made. Lieutenant Colonel John C. Meyer, U.S. Army Air Forces, Major General James A. Van Fleet, and Master Sergeant Llewellyn Chilson were three-time recipients.

A number of recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross in earlier conflicts were again honored in World War II. Chester Hirschfelder, who as a captain with the 5th Machine Gun Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, had received his first Distinguished Service Cross in 1918, received two more in 1944 as a colonel commanding the 9th Infantry Regiment of that same division.[12] Three recipients of two Distinguished Service Crosses in World War I—Douglas MacArthur, Hanford MacNider and Harry H. Semmes—received their third in World War II. A handful of men who had received the Distinguished Service Cross in World War I received a second in World War II.[13] Among these were George S. Patton Jr., whose second Distinguished Service Cross came as commanding general of the Seventh Army in Sicily, and Fred L. Walker, commander of the U.S. 36th Infantry Division in the breakout from Anzio and advance on Rome. Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger, whose first Distinguished Service Cross was awarded for valor in Siberia in 1919, received a second for valor in New Guinea in the Buna campaign of 1942–43.

A little over fifty soldiers (and one sailor) received two Distinguished Service Crosses in World War II. The sailor was John D. Bulkeley, who also received the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross and was one of the most highly decorated Americans of World War II. Among Army recipients of two Distinguished Service Crosses were Creighton W. Abrams, Jr., later the Chief of Staff of the Army, William O. Darby, one of the fathers of the U.S. Army Rangers, and Robert T. Frederick, commander of the U.S-Canadian 1st Special Service Force. Six men of the 82nd Airborne Division received two Distinguished Service Crosses: Charles Billingslea,[14] James M. Gavin, Arthur F. Gorham, Matthew B. Ridgway, Reuben Henry Tucker III and Benjamin H. Vandervoort. Several fighter aces also received two Distinguished Service Crosses, including Donald Blakeslee, Paul P. Douglas Jr., William E. Dyess, Dominic "Don" Gentile, Gerald R. Johnson, Charles "Mac" MacDonald, James B. Morehead, Jay T. "Cock" Robbins, David C. Schilling, William T. Whisner Jr. and Ray S. Wetmore. Bomber pilot Richard H. Carmichael also received two Distinguished Service Crosses.

The commander of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, U.S. 101st Airborne Division, Richard Winters, received a Distinguished Service Cross for his role in the assault on Brecourt Manor on D-Day; a member of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, U.S. 101st Airborne Division, Harrison C. Summers received a Distinguished Service Cross for his role on the assault to capture a building complex nearby designated "WXYZ" on the field order map.

During World War II, twelve soldiers, three airmen, and two sailors received both the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross: from the Army, Bernard P. Bell, Maurice L. "Footsie" Britt, Herbert H. Burr, Leonard A. Funk, Gerry H. Kisters, James M. Logan, George L. Mabry, Jr., Douglas MacArthur, Audie L. Murphy, Junior J. Spurrier, Jack L. Treadwell and Jonathan M. Wainwright; from the Army Air Forces, Richard I. Bong, Horace S. Carswell, Jr. and Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.; and from the Navy, John D. Bulkeley and Samuel D. Dealey (who also received four Navy Crosses). One World War II Distinguished Service Cross recipient, Raymond Harvey, would earn the Medal of Honor in the Korean War.[15]

General Paul W. Tibbets, commander of the 509th Composite Group (509 CG), was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by General Spaatz for piloting the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress plane which dropped the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.[16][17]

Korean War[edit]

In the Korean War, there were just over 800 awards, of which over 300 were posthumous.

Lloyd L. "Scooter" Burke, a lieutenant with the 1st Cavalry Division, Benjamin F. Wilson, a master sergeant with the 7th Infantry Division, Lewis Millett, a captain with the 27th Infantry Regiment and Air Force fighter ace George A. Davis, Jr., each earned both the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross in Korea.

Colonel Arthur Champeny, previously decorated for bravery at Saint-Mihiel in September 1918 and a second time at Santa Maria Infante, Italy in May 1944, received a third Distinguished Service Cross in September 1950. Fighter pilot William T. Whisner, recipient of two Distinguished Service Crosses in World War II, was awarded a third in Korea.

Ten World War II recipients received a second Distinguished Service Cross in Korea. Among these were John T. Corley, whose first Distinguished Service Cross was earned in North Africa in March 1943 with the 1st Infantry Division and whose second was earned in August 1950 with the 25th Infantry Division, Hobart R. Gay, whose first Distinguished Service Cross was earned in 1944 as Chief of Staff of George S. Patton's Third Army and whose second was earned in 1950 as commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, and Walton Walker, whose first Distinguished Service Cross was earned in 1944 as commanding general of XX Corps and whose second was earned in 1950 as commanding general of Eighth Army. Nine men received two Distinguished Service Crosses in Korea. Among these was Edward Almond, the commanding general of X Corps.

Korean War Distinguished Service Cross recipient 1st Lieutenant Richard E. Cavazos would earn a second Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam and rise to full general, becoming the first Hispanic-American four-star general. Korean War Distinguished Service Cross recipient Ralph Puckett, Jr. would also receive a second Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam in command of a battalion of the 101st Airborne Division. Thomas Tackaberry would earn a Distinguished Service Cross in 1952 as a company commander and two more in Vietnam. U.S. Air Force ace Ralph Parr earned a Distinguished Service Cross in 1953 in Korea and an Air Force Cross in Vietnam.

Three marines earned both the Navy Cross and the Army Distinguished Service Cross in Korea: Homer Litzenberg, Raymond Murray, and Marine Corps legend Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller. "Chesty" Puller had previously earned four Navy Crosses in Nicaragua and World War II, while Murray was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in the 1st Marine Division's historic breakout from the Chosin Reservoir area to the sea at Hamhung, and two days later took part in the action which earned him his second Navy Cross. Murray had earned his first Navy Cross on Saipan during World War II.

Other notable Korean War recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross include Harold K. Johnson, later Chief of Staff of the Army, and Herbert B. Powell, later Ambassador to New Zealand (1963–67). Along with Gen. Johnson, at least five other Korean War Distinguished Service Cross recipients later rose to four-star rank: Paul L. Freeman, Jr., Clark L. Ruffner (decorated in 1951 as commander of the 2nd Infantry Division), John L. Throckmorton and John H. "Iron Mike" Michaelis (who had commanded the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment in Normandy). Welborn G. Dolvin, decorated as a lieutenant colonel with the 25th Infantry Division, rose to lieutenant general. MG Ned D. Moore,[18] who earned a Distinguished Service Cross as a colonel in August 1950, had previously served as Chief of Staff of the 101st Airborne Division in the Battle of the Bulge and later rose to major general. Olinto M. Barsanti went on to command the 101st Airborne in Vietnam. Guy S. Meloy went on to command the 82nd Airborne. 1st Lt. Joseph G. Clemons, Jr. for his actions during the Pork Chop Hill, he would later command the 198th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam War and Master Sergeant Juan E. Negrón on 1951, from 65th Infantry Regiment (United States), upgraded to Medal of Honor on 2014 by President Barack Obama

Among the 14 foreign recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross in the Korean War was Kenneth Muir, a major with the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, British Army, who also posthumously received the Victoria Cross. Other foreign recipients came from the Belgian, British, French, Greek, Philippine, South Korean and Turkish armies. Soldiers serving with the Greek Expeditionary Force received 6 Distinguished Service Crosses in total during the Korean War.

Vietnam War[edit]

There were just over 1,000 awards in the Vietnam War, almost 400 of which were posthumous.

Patrick Brady, a helicopter pilot with the 44th Medical Brigade, and Robert L. Howard, a Special Forces NCO, received both the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam. Major General Keith L. Ware, who had earned the Medal of Honor in World War II and who was killed in action in September 1968, received a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross.

James F. Hollingsworth, who received a Distinguished Service Cross in April 1945 as commander of 2nd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, received a second award in November 1966 as assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry Division, and a third in March 1967 as acting division commander of the 1st Infantry Division. He was the subject of the narrative "The General Goes Zapping Charlie Cong". Thomas H. Tackaberry, who received his first Distinguished Service Cross in Korea, received a second in September 1966 as a battalion commander with the 1st Cavalry Division and a third in September 1969 as commander of the 196th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Both later rose to lieutenant general.

One World War II recipient, William E. DePuy, and two Korean War recipients, Richard E. Cavazos and Ralph Puckett Jr., received a second Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam. Both DePuy and Cavazos would later rise to full general.

Besides Hollingsworth and Tackaberry, eleven other soldiers earned two Distinguished Service Crosses in Vietnam. Two, John R. Deane, Jr. and Barry R. McCaffrey, later rose to full general, and a third, Henry E. Emerson, retired as a lieutenant general. McCaffrey also served as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Clinton Administration. Colonel David H. Hackworth, who also received ten Silver Stars in Korea and Vietnam, later rose to prominence as a military affairs journalist. George S. Patton IV, son of a two-time Distinguished Service Cross recipient, received two Distinguished Service Crosses in 1968 as commander of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Sergeant Adelbert Waldron III, twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1969 as a sniper with the 9th Infantry Division, is credited with 109 confirmed kills, the most among U.S. snipers.[19][20] Dennis Tomcik, a first lieutenant with the 47th Infantry Regiment, was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for two separate actions in 1968 in the Kien Hoa Province.[21]

Among other notable Vietnam War Distinguished Service Cross recipients were several who later rose to full general. Among these, besides DePuy and Cavazos, were Paul F. Gorman, who later commanded the U.S. Southern Command; Robert C. Kingston, the first commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command; James J. Lindsay, who later commanded the U.S. Special Operations Command; Timothy J. Grogan,[22] who later served as the deputy chief of staff for doctrine at the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe; and Louis C. Menetrey, who wore three hats as Commander, United Nations Command, R.O.K./U.S. Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea. John W. Vessey Jr., decorated for valor during Operation Junction City in March 1967, rose to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retiring in 1985. Frederick C. Weyand was decorated in 1967 as commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division. He would serve as Chief of Staff of the Army from 1974 to 1976. Bernard W. Rogers, decorated in March 1967 as assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry Division, succeeded General Weyand as Chief of Staff of the Army and subsequently became NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR). Alexander M. Haig, Jr., also decorated in March 1967 as a battalion commander in the 1st Infantry Division, preceded General Rogers as SACEUR, and became Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration. Former West Point football All-American, then Captain Bill Carpenter, "The Lonesome End", received the award in 1966, and would go on to retire as a major general.

First Lieutenant Norman A. Mordue received the Distinguished Service Cross for valor in May 1967 while serving with the 1st Cavalry Division. He was appointed to the U.S. federal bench in 1998 and in 2006 became the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Eldon Bargewell, decorated in 1971 as a staff sergeant with MACV-SOG, was later commissioned and as of early 2006 was a major general on the staff of Multi-National Force Iraq and the only Vietnam-era DSC recipient still on active duty. David Christian, described as the "Youngest Most Decorated Officer of the Vietnam War", received the Distinguished Service Cross recipient while leading a long range reconnaissance patrol of the 1st Infantry Division, and later became a prominent advocate for veterans.

Among Distinguished Service Cross recipients for valor in the early battles in Vietnam were four members of the 1st Cavalry Division decorated for valor in the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in November 1965 – Lt. Col. Hal Moore, Major Bruce Crandall and two other members their unit. The actions of all four were later portrayed in the film "We Were Soldiers", based on Hal Moore's book on the battle. Crandall's Distinguished Service Cross was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which was presented to him in February 2007.

Six Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded to Son Tay raiders, participants in the November 1970 attempt to rescue U.S. POWs in North Vietnam. Among the recipients were Special Forces soldiers Richard J. "Dick" Meadows and Arthur D. "Bull" Simons.

1975 to present[edit]

After the Vietnam conflict, the Distinguished Service Cross has been awarded multiple times.[23] As of December 2018, it has been awarded 16 times for actions during Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan.[24] As of March 2013, the Distinguished Service Cross has been awarded 13 times for actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.[25] For actions during the 2012 Benghazi attack, there was one Soldier who was awarded the medal;[26] there has also been only one award for actions during the 2015 Bamako hotel attack.[27]

Operation Enduring Freedom[edit]

MSG Brendan O'Connor receiving the Distinguished Service Cross

Major Mark E. Mitchell, 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his leading his team against a numerically superior enemy force to free an American held captive at Qala-i-Jang Fortress, Mazar-e Sharif, Afganistan between 25 and 28 November 2001.[28] MSgt Brendan W. O'Connor, 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross after he removed his body armor to reach to a pair of wounded teammates and render medical aid to them, while under fire, on 28 November 2001.[29]

Operation Iraqi Freedom[edit]

Colonel James H. Coffman, Jr., 1st Iraqi Special Police Commando Brigade, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for defending a police station in Mosul from an insurgent attack on 14 November 2004.[30]

Notable recipients[edit]

Revocation[edit]

In a number of cases, an award of the Distinguished Service Cross has later been revoked. In most cases, this has been for one of three reasons: the award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, duplicate awards had been made to the same recipient for the same action by two different headquarters, or the award had been revoked to allow republication with a new and revised award citation. Such revocations have occurred over the history of the decoration.

One of the earliest such cases involves one of the most famous American soldiers of World War I, Alvin York, who initially received a Distinguished Service Cross which was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. And as noted above under "Notable Recipients", top American World War I ace pilot Eddie Rickenbacker originally received eight DSCs, but one was upgraded in 1930 to the Medal of Honor. In 1980, MSG Roy P. Benavidez, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, had his Vietnam-era DSC upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which was presented to him by President Reagan at a Pentagon ceremony on February 24, 1981.

A number of DSC revocations and upgrades to the Medal of Honor were the result of reviews initiated by the Army or mandated by the United States Congress. In the early 1990s the Army began a review of discrimination against black soldiers in World War II, none of whom had received the Medal of Honor but several of whom had received lesser awards. Later, the Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 provided for a "Review Regarding Upgrading of Distinguished-Service Crosses and Navy Crosses Awarded to Asian-Americans and Native American Pacific Islanders for World War II Service" and the National Defense Authorization Act for 2002 provided for a "Review Regarding Award of Medal of Honor to Certain Jewish American and Hispanic American War Veterans".[31] There is currently a petition circulating to upgrade the Distinguished Service Cross of Major Richard Winters to a Medal of Honor.

In January 1997, as a result of its review, the Army revoked six awards of the Distinguished Service Cross to black soldiers and upgraded them to the Medal of Honor. These were to Vernon Baker, Edward A. Carter, Jr., John R. Fox, Willy F. James, Jr., Charles L. Thomas and George Watson.[32] In 2001, the Army officially revoked 21 awards of the Distinguished Service Cross and one of the Silver Star to Asian-American soldiers, mostly Japanese-American, whose awards were upgraded to the Medal of Honor.[33] Among those whose DSC was upgraded was U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. Others include Francis B. Wai and Rudolph B. Davila.

Jon E. Swanson, posthumously awarded a DSC in 1972, had this revoked in November 2005 (Department of the Army General Order No. 9 of 2005), after his DSC was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in December 2002 (Department of the Army General Order No. 14 of 2002). Another Vietnam War helicopter pilot, Bruce P. Crandall, was awarded the DSC in June 2001 (General Order No. 25 of 2001). This award was rescinded in November 2005 when a new citation was issued (General Order No. 9 of 2005), but the DSC itself was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which was presented in February 2007 (the DSC was revoked in General Order No. 3 of 2007).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  13. ^ "Harry H. Semmes". arlingtoncemetery.net. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
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