The Transportation Distinguished Service Medal was established by Executive Order 12824 signed by President George Bush on December 7, 1992, under his authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

DISESTABLISHMENT: Transfer to Department of Homeland Security

On February 28, 2003, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13286, "Amendment of Executive Order, and Other Actions, in Connection With the Transfer of Certain Functions to the Secretary of Homeland Security." Section 29 of this Executive Order amended Executive Order 12824 of December 7, 1992 ("Establishing the Transportation Distinguished Service Medal") by striking "Transportation" in the title and inserting "Homeland Security" in is place. This action rendered the Transportation Distinguishd Service Medal obsolete and replaced it with a new Distinguished Service Medal to be administered by the Department of Homeland Security.


The Department of Transportation Distinguished Service Medal was in effect from December 7, 1992 to March 1, 2002, when the Coast Guard transfered from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security


The Department of Transportation Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to any member of the Coast Guard who provided exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility while assigned in the Department of Transportation, or in other activities under the responsibility of the Secretary of Transportation, either national or international, as may be assigned by the Secretary.


The Transportation Distinguished Service Medal was worn only by Coast Guard officers. It is worn after the Navy Cross and before the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.


Additional awards of the Transportation Distinguished Service Medal are denoted by Gold Stars.


The Transportation Distinguished Service Medal was designed by Nadine Russell of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.


The first Department of Transportation Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to Admiral J. William Kime on December 11, 1992.



In the center of a silver medallion one half inch in diameter, there is a narrow-bordered blue triskelion facing counter-clockwise with one arm up. This medallion is contained within a raised border of continuous cable in gold, both of which are superimposed over crossed anchors on a circular field scored with raised rays. This field is in turn surrounded by a raised laurel wreath in green enamel, finished in gold. The laurel leaves form a continuous circle and the leaves point counter-clockwise.

The suspender which connects the medal to its ribbon is integral to the medal and consists of a miniature Coast Guard officer's cap device in gold. The blue triskelion is adapted from the Department of Transportation Seal. It surmounts two anchors crossed to imply cooperation and strength, and denotes the U.S. Coast Guard's affiliating with the Department of Transportation. The encircling wreath of laurel symbolizes honor and achievement. The pendant device, which simulates the Coast Guard's officer cap device, highlights the purpose of the medal.


In the upper-central portion of the reverse there is a raised plaque for engraving the recipient's name. Above the plaque in two lines are the raised words, AWARDED TO; and below the plaque in four lines, the words FOR EXTRAORDINARY MERITORIOUS SERVICE. The plaque and inscription are contained within an incomplete circle (open at the bottom) consisting of the raised words, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.


The ribbon to the Transportation Distinguished Service Medal consists of a predominant field of Old Glory Blue edged in white with two stripes of Paprika, each five-thirty seconds of an inch wide, a quarter of an inch in from each edge of the ribbon. The colors of the ribbon are traditionally associated with Department of Transportation awards and appear in different combinations in other Department of Transportation awards.


Return to top of page
Military Decorations (Index Page)
Coast Guard Decorations (Index Page)
Quick Reference to All Military Decorations
Home Page