The California National Guard Medal of Merit honors California National Guard members who carry out exceptional service or exhibit noteworthy behavior beyond standard expectations that promotes the wellbeing of the Guard and the State. Civilians and members of other military branches are also eligible for the award.
At nearly 23,000 members, the California National Guard is the largest in the country; it is made up of the California Army National Guard and California Air National Guard. The Army component dates back to the 1849 founding of a state militia, then called the First California Guard; the Air component, based in Sacramento, traces its roots back to August of 1917 when the 115th Aero Squadron was formed to support the United States’ efforts in World War I.
The medal is bronze and takes the shape of a cross mounted on a redwood leaf. An inscription on the cross reads “FOR MERIT.” The ribbon features red edging and three thinner vertical yellow stripes alternating with two thicker blue stripes.