A bronze medal, 1 1/2 inches in diameter overall, consisting of six rays issuant from the upper three points of a five-pointed star with beveled edges and containing two smaller stars defined by incised outlines; in front of the lower part of the star an eagle with wings upraised standing upon two upward curving branches of laurel tied with a ribbon between the feet of the eagle. The reverse has the encircled inscriptions "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and "MERITORIOUS SERVICE".
The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/8 inch Crimson 67112; 1/4 inch White 67101; center 5/8 inch Crimson; 1/4 inch White; and 1/8 inch Crimson.
Awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who distinguished themselves by outstanding non-combat meritorious achievement or service to the United States subsequent to 16 January 1969. Normally, the acts or services rendered must be comparable to that required for the Legion of Merit but in a duty of lesser though considerable responsibility.
The following are authorized components of the Meritorious Service Medal:
a. Decoration set (regular size): MIL-D-3943/66. NSN 8455-00-450-3728. Replacement medal NSN 8455-00-439-2142.
b. Decoration (miniature size): MIL-D-3943/66. Not stocked.
c. Ribbon: MIL-R-11589/172. NSN 8455-00-439-2143.
d. Lapel Button (metal replica of ribbon): MIL-L-11484/85. NSN 8455-00-439-2141.
a. At Tri-Department Awards Conference, 5-6 February 1968, there was a discussion on the need for a third meritorious award to provide appropriate recognition for noncombat achievement or service comparable to the Bronze Star Medal for combat achievement or service. It was felt that the Legion of Merits prestige was slipping because it was being used with increasing frequency to reward service below Legion of Merit standard, but higher than that required for the Commendation Medal.
b. A proposed executive order was prepared in April 1968 and forwarded for approval to the Military Departments. An ad hoc committee was formed by the Secretary of Defense (M&RA) to select a name. On 8 November 1968, the committee unanimously approved the name "Meritorious Service Medal". President Johnson established the Meritorious Service Medal per Executive Order No. 11448 dated 16 January 1969. The Executive Order was amended by President Reagan per Executive Order 12312, dated 2 July 1981, to authorize award to members of the armed forces of friendly foreign nations.
c. The decoration was designed by Mr. Jay Morris, The Institute of Heraldry, and the design was approved by the committee on 20 March 1969. The ribbon design purposely follows the colors used for the Legion of Merit to reflect the parallel between the two medals. The eagle, symbol of the nation, stands on laurel branches denoting achievement. The star is used to represent the military service and the rays emanating therefrom denote the constant efforts of individuals to achieve through excellent and meritorious service.
d. Order of precedence and wear of decorations is contained in Army Regulation (AR) 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority, supply, and issue of decorations is contained in AR 600-8-22.