The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal derives from the Army Distinguished Service Medal, which was established by Act of Congress (Public Law 193, 65th Congress) approved July 9, 1918. The Act which established the Army Distinguished Service Medal was amended by Act of Congress on July 6, 1960 (Public Law 86-593, 86th Congress), which granted the Air Force the authority to award a Distinguished Service Medal of its own design.
The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal has been in effect since November 1, 1965.
The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal may be awarded to service members who, while serving in any capacity with the Air Force, distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal is worn after the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and before the Silver Star.
Additional awards of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters.
The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was designed by Frank Alston of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.
The first recipient of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was Major General Osmond J. Ritland, who received his medal on November 30, 1965.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
A blue stone is centered in a sunburst of 13 gold rays separated by 13 white enameled stars. The ring of thirteen rays and stars symbolize both the thirteen original colonies and man's endless chain of achievement. The sunburst represents the burst of glory that goes with high achievement, while the sun rays allude to man's constant quest for knowledge. The stars also symbolize the high ideals of achievement and the lofty purpose of the medal itself. The blue stone in the center represents the vault of the heavens and alludes to the operational environment of the Air Force.
The reverse is blank for engraving the recipient's name.
The ribbon to the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal consists of a central band of white bordered with pinstripes of gold. The gold pinstripes are bordered by stripes of ultramarine blue, which are edged in gold.