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Air Force Museum Foundation

USAF Awards and Decorations

Note: This exhibit is located in the connecting link between the World War II and Korean War Galleries.

The U.S. Air Force bestows awards on individual military personnel and civilians in recognition of their heroism, self-sacrifice, outstanding achievement or other forms of service. Generally, awards given to individuals in recognition of personal valor are shaped like a star or cross -- like the Medal of Honor. The first U.S. award developed exclusively for Airmen was the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1926. All too often, our grateful nation has presented awards for personal valor to those who died while performing their acts of heroism. 

Other awards, usually shaped like coins, represent service in a campaign or war, or for some other notable achievement. Awards, such as the Presidential Unit Citation, recognize military units for outstanding achievements. Service medals, campaign medals, and service ribbons denote creditable military participation in a campaign, war, national emergency or expedition.

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