The Defense Meritorious Service Medal was established by Executive Order 12019 was signed by President James E. Carter on November 3, 1977.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal has been in effect since November 3, 1977.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to members of the Armed Forces who, while serving in a joint activity, distinguish themselves by noncombat outstanding achievement or meritorious service, but not of a degree to warrant award of the Defense Superior Service Medal.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is worn after the Purple Heart and before the Meritorious Service Medal.
Additional awards of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters. Until 1998 additional awards to Coast Guard personnel were denoted by gold starx five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. In 1998 the Coast Guard authorized its members to wear oak leaf clusterx on this decoration to denote subsequent awards; however, previously authorized gold stars could still be worn.
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal was designed and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.
The first recipient of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal was Major Terrell G. Covington, U.S. Army.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
A bronze medal one and a half inches in overall diameter consisting of a circular wreath of laurel tied with a ribbon at its base and in the center, a pentagon shape slightly overlapping the wreath. In the center of (and standing on the base) of the pentagon is an eagle with its wings displayed horizontally.
The eagle is symbolic of the United States; the pentagon alludes to the Department of Defense (under whose authority the award is given), and the laurel wreath represents achievement.
The reverse bears the inscription (in raised letters), DEFENSE MERITORIOUS SERVICE in three horizontal lines; around the bottom, the words, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The ribbon consists of a broad white center stripe with three light blue stripes centered in the middle. The white stripe is bordered by ruby red and edged in white. The ruby red and white are adapted from the ribbon of the Meritorious Service Medal, and the blue stripes represent the Department of Defense.