WASHINGTON (March, 6, 2019) - The Navy Cross, left, and Purple Heart medals awarded to Ensign George H. Gay, Jr. for his actions of June 4, 1942 during the Battle of Midway as a member of Torpedo Squadron Eight. The Navy Cross is an early World War II "Black Widow" medal, so named for the over-anodized finish on the planchet. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution/Released)
WASHINGTON (March, 6, 2019) - The Navy Cross, left, and Purple Heart medals awarded to Ensign George H. Gay, Jr. for his actions of June 4, 1942 during the Battle of Midway as a member of Torpedo Squadron Eight. The Navy Cross is an early World War II "Black Widow" medal, so named for the over-anodized finish on the planchet. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution/Released)

Navy celebrates 100th anniversary of the Board of Decorations and Medals

Office of the Navy Chief of Information

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy celebrates the centennial of the Board of Decorations and Medals. Founded March 6, 1919, the board was established by order of then-Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to standardize the awarding of medals to service members for extraordinary acts of heroism or distinguished service.

“Today, the Board of Decorations and Medals makes recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs on all military award nominations and all military awards policy matters requiring their approval,” said James Nierle, president of the Board of Decorations and Medals. “Leveraging its more than eight decades worth of extensive files, the board fulfills a vital function in maintaining awards standards across the Department of the Navy and across time.”

The Board was established following the World War I Armistice, and Congress’ creation in February 1919 of two new decorations: The Navy Cross and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. Prior to the establishment of the board, input was sought from the fleet on individuals whose wartime performance of duty merited award of the new Distinguished Service Medal. These recommendations were reviewed by a board chaired by a Navy admiral, and its recommendations were submitted for approval to the secretary of the Navy. Arbitrary designations at times evidenced the need for a largely independent Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals.

“Equitably and accurately awarding those Sailors and Marines who go above and beyond the call of duty in combat and during a career of distinguished service is critical to honoring their heroics and fostering the esprit de corps that makes the Navy and Marine Corps the most lethal fighting force the world has ever known,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Greg Slavonic. “The Board of Decorations and Medals guarantees authenticity of the high tributes we bestow on our Nation’s warfighters.”

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