This medal is not issued or authorized by the Federal Government, nor can it be worn on the active duty uniform. However, it has been adopted by the Military Order of Foreign Wars and is offered as a purely civilian device to commemorate honorable military service. Its central motif is the famous "ruptured duck," adapted from the Honorable Service lapel pin used during the interim period between the First World War and following the Second World War. The cross represents the military services: the Army, Navy (including the Coast Guard), the Marine Corps and the Air Force. The laurel wreath represents honor and achievement. The colors of the ribbon are suggested by the American Defense Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. The blue, white and red are the national colors, and the gold represents the golden opportunity of American youth to serve the National Colors.
Photos by Vic Damon
(3rd Armored Division Cold War Veteran)
NOTE: The Honorable Service Medal is also available as a cased set, which includes the full-sized medal, a ribbon bar, and a lapel pin for $30.95.
If you wish, you may send a personal check or money order for any of the above to:
P.O. Box 710
Millions of men and women have served in the Armed Forces of the United States. Although only a small percentage have made the military their career, a very large number have answered the call to colors during both war and peace. Military service has been an important part of "coming of age" for many Americans, instilling in them discipline and a sense of duty. For many veterans, military service provided them with career training or education that has served them well in their civilian careers. Honorable military service is a significant part of the personal biography of countless Americans. In the past the military has been provided its veterans with a symbol that acknowledges their honorable service. Unfortunately, no such symbol has been offered since the end of World War II.
World War I - The Victory Lapel Button
Following the First World War the War Department wanted to provide discharged veterans with a device to indicate they served honorably during "the Great War." Although the Government created a Victory Medal for the First World War, it did not think a miniature lapel pin of that medal was the best way to indicate honorable service. However, they wanted to provide an emblem that indicated the wearer was entitled to the Victory Medal. After careful consideration they developed a "Victory Lapel Button," which was a five-pointed star 5/8 inch in diameter superimposed on a laurel wreath. In the center of the star are the letters U.S. in raised letters. Two types of Victory Buttons were issued - one in silver for those who had been wounded in action, and another in bronze for all others.
The Victory Lapel Button was designed by the noted sculptor Adolph A. Weinman (1870-1952), and eligibility was the same as for the Victory Medal. The buttons were issued free of charge. In some cases they were given at the time of discharge; otherwise a veteran could obtain it by taking his discharge documents to the nearest Army or Navy Recruiting Office. This simple yet beautiful lapel button was the first "honorable service" device provided to veterans, and it was very popular.
The Interim Period - The Army Emblem For Honorable Service Prior to September 8, 1939
The second "honorable service" emblem was a lapel pin authorized for honorable service between the inclusive dates of April 1, 1920 (the official end of the First World War) and September 8, 1939 (the date President Roosevelt declared a state of limited emergency leading to Second World War). This lapel button could be worn by individuals who served honorably as an enlisted man, warrant officer, nurse, contract surgeon, veterinarian, or as a commissioned officer in the Regular Army or a Citizen's Military Training Camp for two months, or in the National Guard, Enlisted Reserve Corps, or senior ROTC for one year (or in Junior ROTC for two years). War Department General Order No. 13, dated June 9, 1925, authorized the wearing of the pin and described its design. This lapel pin is a gold-colored medal lapel button 7/16 inch in height and 5/8 inch in width. It shows an eagle with its wings spread. The eagle is perched within a ring that displays seven white and six red vertical stripes with a blue chief bearing the words National Defense. The eagle's right wing extends beyond the ring from behind, and its left wing extends in front of the ring.
World War II - The Armed Forces Honorable Service Lapel Button
This lapel pin is the same as the emblem for honorable service prior to September 8, 1939, except that it is in gold only (the thirteen stripes and the chief are not colored), and the words NATIONAL DEFENSE were dropped from the chief. This pin was authorized for honorable service between the inclusive dates of September 8, 1939 and December 31, 1946 (the official end of the Second World War). Change Number 8 to Army Regulation 600-35 states, "For the World war II Victory Medal, no lapel button is prescribed (the lapel button for service rendered since September 8, 1939 is used in lieu of a lapel button for the World war II Victory Medal.)" This familiar lapel button was extremely popular among discharged veterans.
The War Department also adopted the same honorable discharge emblem in cloth for wear on the uniform of all military personnel who were discharged or separated from the service under honorable conditions. This emblem was to be worn as a badge of honor indicating honest and faithful service while a member of the Armed Forces during World War II, and it was issued along with the lapel button. At the time of honorable discharge or separation from the Service, the cloth emblem was to be permanently sewn on the right breast of all the outer clothing, centered immediately above the pocket with long axis horizontal.
On November 27, 1947, the lapel button for service prior the September 8, 1939 was rescinded and only the Honorable Service lapel button was authorized. This is emblem is the famous "ruptured duck," familiar to virtually all surviving veterans of the Second World War.
The Cold War and Beyond - No Emblem Authorized
Since World War II the Armed Forces have been involved in numerous military operations, beginning with the Korean War and extending up the war against Iraq. Although a variety of campaign and service medals have been authorized for these wars and operations, the Defense Department has not established an honorable service emblem for discharged veterans. The Honorable Service Medal was created to fill this void.