The American Defense Service Medal was established by Executive Order 8808 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 28, 1941, and implemented by War Department Bulletin 17 (1941) and Navy Department General Orders No. 172 of April 20, 1942.
The American Defense Service Medal was awarded for qualifying service performed between September 8, 1939, and December 7, 1941.
The American Defense Service Medal was awarded for service in the Armed Forces between September 8, 1939, and December 7, 1941. Army members had to serve 12 months to be eligible, but Navy and Marine Corps members were eligible based on any length of service.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
The American Defense Service Medal was worn by Army personnel after the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal and before the American Campaign Medal (for members of the Women's Army Corps, after the Women's Army Corps Service Medal and before the American Campaign Medal). It was worn by Navy and Marine Corps personnel after the China Service Medal and before the American Campaign Medal.
The first recipient of the American Defense Service Service Medal is not known.
The American Defense Service Medal was designed by Joseph Kiselewski and sculpted by Lee Lawrie.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, a female Grecian figure is shown holding an ancient war shield and brandishing a sword above her head. She is standing on a tree branch which has four leaves. Above the figure, and following the contour of the medal, are the words AMERICAN DEFENSE.
The Grecian figure is Columbia, representing America, who is standing in an attitude of defense which is further indicated by the manner in which she is holding her sword. She is standing on a live oak, which represents strength, and the four leaves allude to the components of the armed forces at that time: the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The words describe what the medal commemorates.
In a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, the inscription FOR SERVICE DURING THE LIMITED EMERGENCY PROCLAIMED BY THE PRESIDENT ON 8 SEPTEMBER 1939 OR DURING THE UNLIMITED EMERGENCY PROCLAIMED BY THE PRESIDENT ON 27 MAY 1941. At the base of the medal, and below this inscription, is a seven-leafed spray of laurel.
The inscription defines the service for which the medal was issued, and the laurel represents achievement.
The ribbon, designed by Arthur E. DuBois, is a field of gold which represents the "golden opportunity" of the youth of America to serve the National colors, which are represented by the blue, white and red pinstripes inside each edge of the ribbon.