Established on May 11, 1942, the Air Medal honors individuals for heroic acts or otherwise exceptional achievement while carrying out flight or aerial combat operations. It may be awarded either to US or foreign military or civilian personnel and is only awarded during wartime operations. Eligible operations are determined at the discretion of MAJCOMs.
The medal is bronze and in the shape of a 16-pointed compass rose. It features a swooping eagle with lightning bolts in its grasp. The ribbon is dark blue with a vertical golden yellow stripe toward each edge; it is joined to the medal by a fleur-de-lis.
Subsequent awards may be indicated by oak leaf clusters, the “V” device, or gold or silver stars except for Coast Guard awardees, for whom no other device is authorized.