Most folks who haven’t served in the Armed Forces are aware of the more famous medals that are awarded to those who have served: the Purple Heart for those wounded or killed while serving, or the Bronze Star for valor in combat or for meritorious service.
And there is the Medal of Honor, which is awarded for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.”
The Air Force put out a solicitation for bids last week for some 34,000 medals and ribbons covering 74 different types of awards. Naturally, most are for service to the country in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and other places.
There are others given out for service on U.N. or NATO missions, such as in Kosovo, and 4,000 medals for good conduct. And there are ribbons (10) for recruiters and for basic training instructors (50).
Even civilians can receive awards, but not that often. For example, the Air Force has only ordered three medals (the fewest in any category) for service in Antarctica.
That award was first given to “members of the U.S. Navy operation High Jump under the late Admiral R.E. Byrd in 1946 and 1947,” according to an Air Force fact sheet.
“Deserving civilians, including scientists and polar experts, can also be awarded this medal,” which is of a man dressed in “Antarctic clothing.”
If you’re a civilian looking for a medal, go for that one — it may be arduous, even nasty, but at least no one is shooting at you.