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Presidential Medal for Merit

Presidential Medal for Merit

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The Medal for Merit was, during the period it was awarded, the highest civilian decoration of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, awarded by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 to civilians for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services ... since the proclamation of an emergency by the President on September 8, 1939". It was created by Public Law 77-671 and its awarding codified by Executive Order 9286--Medal for Merit on December 24, 1942, later amended and restated by Executive Order 9857A of May 27, 1947. Created during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and awarded to "civilians of the nations prosecuting the war under the joint declaration of the United Nations and of other friendly foreign nations", the medal has not been awarded since 1952.

The first medals were awarded to John C. Garand and Albert Hoyt Taylor on March 28, 1944.

The Medal for Merit is currently listed as seventh in order of precedence of U.S. civilian decorations, below the Silver Lifesaving Medal
Lifesaving Medal
The Gold Lifesaving Medal and Silver Lifesaving Medal are civil and military decorations of the United States Coast Guard which was first established by Act of Congress, 20 June 1874; later authorized by Title 14 of the United States Code Section 500-501...

 and above the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal
National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal
The National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal is the highest decoration awarded for service to the United States Intelligence Community...

.

Civilians of foreign nations could receive the award for the performance of an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act or acts in furtherance of the war efforts of the United Nations. The first non-U.S. citizen to receive the medal was spymaster William Stephenson
William Stephenson
Sir William Samuel Stephenson, CC, MC, DFC was a Canadian soldier, airman, businessman, inventor, spymaster, and the senior representative of British intelligence for the entire western hemisphere during World War II. He is best known by his wartime intelligence codename Intrepid...

, code named Intrepid during WWII. Some consider Stephenson one of the real life inspirations for James Bond. A confidential White House inquiry as to whether King George VI could be awarded the medal was denied because he had not met the eligibility criteria.

Proposals were considered by the Medal for Merit Board, numbering three members appointed by the President, of whom one was appointed by the President as Chairman of the Board. The medal cannot be awarded for any action relating to the prosecution of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 subsequent to the cessation of hostilities (as proclaimed by Proclamation No. 2714 of December 31, 1946), and no proposal for an award for such services could be submitted after June 30, 1947.

Some recipients

  • Dean Acheson
    Dean Acheson
    Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

     (June 30, 1947)
  • Leason H. Adams (1948)
  • Dr. James Gilbert Baker
    James Gilbert Baker
    James Gilbert Baker was an American astronomer and designer of optics systems.-Biography:He was born in Louisville, Kentucky to Jesse B. Baker and Hattie M. Stallard, the fourth child of that couple. He attended Louisville duPont Manual High School then majored in mathematics at the University of...

     (1948)
  • Chester I. Barnard
  • Irving Berlin
    Irving Berlin
    Irving Berlin was an American composer and lyricist of Jewish heritage, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history.His first hit song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band", became world famous...

     (1945)
  • Vannevar Bush
    Vannevar Bush
    Vannevar Bush was an American engineer and science administrator known for his work on analog computing, his political role in the development of the atomic bomb as a primary organizer of the Manhattan Project, the founding of Raytheon, and the idea of the memex, an adjustable microfilm viewer...

     (May 27, 1948)
  • G. Edward Buxton Jr.
    G. Edward Buxton Jr.
    Gonzalo Edward "Ned" Buxton Jr. Was a Colonel in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I and the commanding officer of Sargent Alvin York. In later life he was the First Assistant Director of the OSS.-Early life:...

     (November 30, 1946)
  • Granville Conway
    Granville Conway
    Captain Granville Conway was born in Cambridge, Maryland. Conway distinguished himself in maritime service and served in various positions during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, including Shipping Advisor to both Presidents and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He received the Medal for Merit...

     (July 16, 1947)
  • Ralph K. Davies (December 12, 1945)
  • Dr. Smith J. DeFrance (1948)
  • Joseph Desch
    Joseph Desch
    Joseph Raymond Desch was an American electrical engineer and inventor. During World War II, he was Research Director of the project to design and manufacture the US Navy version of the bombe, a cryptanalytic machine designed to read communications enciphered by the German Enigma.-Early life:Desch...

     (1947)
  • Charles F. Detmar, Jr
  • John R. Dunning
    John R. Dunning
    John Ray Dunning was an American physicist who played key roles in the development of the atomic bomb. He specialized in neutron physics and did pioneering work in gaseous diffusion for isotope separation...

     (1946)
  • William Frederick Durand
  • Rudolph Forster (June 16, 1945 posthumously)
  • William F. Friedman
    William F. Friedman
    William Frederick Friedman was a US Army cryptographer who ran the research division of the Army's Signals Intelligence Service in the 1930s, and parts of its follow-on services into the 1950s...

     (1946)
  • Jack Frye
    Jack Frye
    William John "Jack" Frye was an aviation pioneer, who with Paul E. Richter and Walter A. Hamilton, built TWA into a world class airline during his tenure as chairman from 1934-1947....

     (December 18, 1946)
  • John C. Garand (March 28, 1944)
  • Dr. Ivan A. Getting
    Ivan A. Getting
    Ivan Alexander Getting was an American physicist and electrical engineer, credited with the development of the Global Positioning System...

  • Leroy Randle Grumman (1948)
  • Gaylord P. Harnwell
  • W. A. Harriman (1946)
  • Dr. Clarence N. Hickman (June 22, 1948)
  • J. Edgar Hoover
    J. Edgar Hoover
    John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

     (March 8, 1946)
  • Bob Hope
    Bob Hope
    Bob Hope, KBE, KCSG, KSS was a British-born American comedian and actor who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in radio, television and movies. He was also noted for his work with the US Armed Forces and his numerous USO shows entertaining American military personnel...

  • David Luke Hopkins (1946)
  • Cordell Hull
    Cordell Hull
    Cordell Hull was an American politician from the U.S. state of Tennessee. He is best known as the longest-serving Secretary of State, holding the position for 11 years in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during much of World War II...

     (April 15, 1947)
  • Jerome Clarke Hunsaker
    Jerome Clarke Hunsaker
    Jerome Clarke Hunsaker was an American airman born in Creston, Iowa, and educated at the Naval Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.-Life:...

     (1946)
  • Frederick Vinton Hunt
    Frederick Vinton Hunt
    Frederick Vinton Hunt was an inventor, a scientist and a professor at Harvard University who worked in the field of acoustic engineering.He made significant contributions to room acoustics, regulated...

  • John Monroe Johnson (March 8, 1946)
  • Louis Johnson
    Louis Johnson
    Louis or Lou Johnson may refer to:*Louis A. Johnson , second United States Secretary of Defense, from March 28, 1949 to September 19, 1950...

     (October 1, 1947)
  • Eric Johnston
    Eric Johnston
    Eric Allen Johnston was a business owner, president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, a Republican Party activist, president of the Motion Picture Association of America , and a U.S. government special projects administrator and envoy for both Democratic and Republican administrations...

     (1947)
  • Al Jolson
    Al Jolson
    Al Jolson was an American singer, comedian and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer"....

     (1950)
  • Kaufman Thuma Keller (1946)
  • Paul E. Klopsteg
    Paul E. Klopsteg
    Paul Ernest Klopsteg was an American physicist. The asteroid 3520 Klopsteg was named after him and the yearly Klopsteg Memorial Award was founded in his memory....

     (1948)
  • Edward F. Knipling (1947)
  • Frank Knox
    Frank Knox
    -External links:...

     (May 31, 1945 posthumously)
  • Julius A. Krug (May 1, 1946)
  • George William Lewis (1948)
  • Alfred Lee Loomis
    Alfred Lee Loomis
    Alfred Lee Loomis was an American attorney, investment banker, philanthropist, scientist/physicist, pioneer in military radar usages, inventor of the LORAN or Long Range Navigation System, and lifelong patron of scientific research...

  • Paul V. McNutt
    Paul V. McNutt
    Paul Vories McNutt was an American politician who served as the 34th Governor of Indiana during the Great Depression, high commissioner to the Philippines, administrator of the Federal Security Agency, chairman of the War Manpower Commission and ambassador to the Philippines.-Family and...

     (November 27, 1946)
  • George W. Merck
    George W. Merck
    George Wilhelm Herman Emanuel Merck , was the president of Merck & Co. from 1925 to 1950.-Biography:Born in New York and raised in Llewellyn Park, New Jersey, he attended Harvard College, graduating in 1915. World War I prevented him from pursuing an advanced degree in Germany; instead, he joined...

     (1946)
  • Clark B. Millikan
  • Raymond D. Mindlin
    Raymond D. Mindlin
    Raymond David Mindlin was a mechanician who made seminal contributions to many branches of applied mechanics, applied physics, and engineering sciences.-Education:...

  • Henry Morgenthau
    Henry Morgenthau
    Henry Morgenthau may refer to:* Henry Morgenthau, Sr. , United States diplomat* Henry Morgenthau, Jr. , United States Secretary of the Treasury* Henry Morgenthau, III , author and television producer...

     (December 12, 1945)
  • Philip McCord Morse (December 1946)
  • John J. Muccio
  • William Beverly Murphy
    William Beverly Murphy
    William Beverly Murphy was a U.S. food businessman. He was the president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company between 1953 and 1972. From 1942 to 1945 he was on leave from Campbell's Soup to the War Production Board. Prior to joining Campbell's Soup he was at the A.C...

     (1946)
  • David K. Niles (August 20, 1947)
  • Dr. Brian O’Brien
    Brian O’Brien
    Brian O'Brien, Ph.D. was an optical physicist and "the founder of the Air Force Studies Board and its chairman for 12 years. Dr. O'Brien received numerous awards, including the Medal for Merit, the nation's highest civilian award, for his work on optics in World War II and the in 1951...

  • J. Robert Oppenheimer (1946)
  • Dr. David B Parkinson, Sr
  • Linus Carl Pauling (February 2, 1948)
  • William D. Pawley
    William D. Pawley
    William D. Pawley was a U.S. ambassador, a noted businessman and associated with the Flying Tigers American Volunteer Group during World War II.-Early life:...

     (May 13, 1946)
  • John J. Pelley (March 8, 1946)
  • Howard C. Petersen
    Howard C. Petersen
    Howard Charles Petersen was an American government official. He graduated from DePauw University in 1930 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1933...

     (1947)
  • Byron Price
    Byron Price
    Byron Price was director of the Office of Censorship for the United States government during World War II. For his role, he was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize in 1944. After the war he was appointed as the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations. In 1946, President Harry S...

     (January 15, 1946)
  • Samuel F. Pryor, Jr. (1945)
  • Dr. Robert F. Rinehart (1948)
  • Samuel I. Rosenman (January 24, 1946)
  • Dr. Bruce Sage (1948)
  • Edgar Sengier
    Edgar Sengier
    Edgar Sengier was the director of the Belgian Union Minière du Haut Katanga during World War II. Sengier is credited with giving the American government access to much of the uranium necessary for the Manhattan Project...

  • James Augustine Shannon
    James Augustine Shannon
    James Augustine Shannon was an American nephrologist who served as director of National Institutes of Health from 1955-1968. In 1962 he was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences....

     (1948)
  • Cyril Stanley Smith
    Cyril Stanley Smith
    Cyril Stanley Smith was a renowned metallurgist and historian of science. Smith is perhaps most famous for his work on the Manhattan Project where he was responsible for the production of fissionable metals....

  • John Wesley Snyder (May 14, 1947)
  • Sir William Stephenson
    William Stephenson
    Sir William Samuel Stephenson, CC, MC, DFC was a Canadian soldier, airman, businessman, inventor, spymaster, and the senior representative of British intelligence for the entire western hemisphere during World War II. He is best known by his wartime intelligence codename Intrepid...

     (1946)
  • Myron C. Taylor (December 20, 1948)
  • Albert Hoyt Taylor (March 28, 1944)
  • Frederick Emmons Terman
  • Charles Allen Thomas
    Charles Allen Thomas
    Charles Allen Thomas was a noted American chemist and businessman, and an important figure in the Manhattan Project....

     (January 30, 1946)
  • Juan T. Trippe (September 27, 1946)
  • Fred M. Vinson
    Fred M. Vinson
    Frederick Moore Vinson served the United States in all three branches of government and was the most prominent member of the Vinson political family. In the legislative branch, he was an elected member of the United States House of Representatives from Louisa, Kentucky, for twelve years...

     (October 3, 1947)
  • Dr. Theodore von Kármán
    Theodore von Karman
    Theodore von Kármán was a Hungarian-American mathematician, aerospace engineer and physicist who was active primarily in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He is responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization...

     (1946)
  • John von Neumann
    John von Neumann
    John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath who made major contributions to a vast number of fields, including set theory, functional analysis, quantum mechanics, ergodic theory, geometry, fluid dynamics, economics and game theory, computer science, numerical analysis,...

     (1947)
  • Sidney James Weinberg (19 September 1946)
  • Elmira Bears Wickenden
  • Stephen J. Zand
    Stephen J. Zand
    Stephen Joseph Zand was an aeronautical pioneer who worked at the Sperry Gyroscope Co. and was later Vice-President of Engineering at the Lord Corporation. He solved many of the early problems related to vibrations and sound...


See also


President's Certificate of Merit
President's Certificate of Merit
The President's Certificate of Merit was created June 6, 1946 by Executive Order 9734 signed by US President Harry Truman, "for award by the President or at his direction to any civilian who on or after December 7, 1941 , has performed a meritorious act or service which has aided the United States...

, for an act or service not sufficiently extraordinary or meritorious to warrant the award of the Medal for Merit, but nevertheless of high degree.

External links