Silver Lifesaving Medal Ribbon

Silver Lifesaving Medal Ribbon
Silver Lifesaving Medal Ribbon

History - Established 1874

Established on June 20, 1874, the Silver Lifesaving Medal honors individuals, military or civilian, who rescue a person from water-related hazards such as drowning or shipwreck. To qualify, the rescue must occur in waters under U.S. jurisdiction, or one of the rescuers must either be a United States citizen or be operating from a vessel operated by a United States citizen.

The Lifesaving Medal is issued at the Gold level for individuals who risk their own lives in the course of rescue; otherwise, it is issued at the Silver level. The medal was initially issued as a non-portable trophy until 1882, when it was altered for ribbon suspension; it took on its current form in 1949.


The medal, which is struck from actual silver, features the image of a man floundering at sea while a woman reaches out a scar to assist him. An inscription encircling the scene reads “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - ACT OF CONGRESS AUGUST 4, 1949.” The reverse features an inscription reading “IN TESTAMENT OF HEROIC DEEDS IN SAVING LIFE FROM THE PERILS OF THE SEA,” and a wreath of laurels appears at the bottom. The ribbon is silver with blue edging bordered to the interior by a thin white line.

Subsequent awards may be indicated by stars.

Bronze Star
Silver Star