On a bronze medal, 1 ¼ inches
in diameter, an eagle displayed with inverted wings standing on a sword and
palm branch, all beneath the inscription "NATIONAL DEFENSE". On the reverse
is a shield taken from the Coat of Arms of the United States with an open
wreath below it, the right side of oak leaves and the left side of laurel
The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and
consists of the following stripes: 7/16 inch Scarlet 67111; 1/32 inch White
67101; 1/32 inch Old Glory Blue 67178; 1/32 inch White; 1/32 inch Scarlet;
center ¼ inch Golden Yellow 67104; 1/32 inch Scarlet; 1/32 inch White;
1/32 inch Old Glory Blue; 1/32 inch White; and 7/16 inch Scarlet.
a. The National Defense
Service Medal was awarded for honorable active service for any period between
27 June 1950 and 27 July 1954, between 1 January 1961 and 14 August 1974,
and between 2 August 1990 and 30 November 1995. For the purpose of the award,
the following persons will not be considered as performing active
(1) Guard and Reserve forces personnel on short tours of duty to fulfill
training obligations under an inactive duty training program.
(2) Any person on active duty for the sole purpose of undergoing a physical
(3) Any person on temporary active duty to serve on boards, courts, commissions
and like organizations or on active duty for purposes other than extended
b. The National
Defense Service Medal may be awarded to members of the Reserve Components
who are ordered to Federal active duty, regardless of duration, except for
the categories listed above. Any member of the Guard or Reserve who, after
31 December 1960, becomes eligible for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal,
Vietnam Service Medal or the Southwest Asia Service Medal is also eligible
for the National Defense Service Medal.
The following are authorized
a. Medal (regular
size): MIL-DTL-3943/234. NSN 8455-00-281-3214 for set which includes regular
size medal and ribbon bar.
b. Medal (miniature
size): MIL-DTL-3943/234. Available commercially from certified
MIL-DTL-11589/97. NSN 8455-00-264-1478.
d. Lapel Button:
MIL-DTL-11484/185. Available commercially.
a. The National Defense Service
Medal (NDSM) was established by President Eisenhower per Executive Order
10448, dated 22 April 1953, for service between 27 June 1950 and a date to
be announced. On 17 June 1954, the Chief of Staff approved establishment
of 27 July 1954 as the termination date for award of the NDSM. Executive
Order 11265, dated 11 January 1966, amended Executive Order 10488, to include
a termination date and authorized the Secretary of Defense to establish periods
of eligibility subsequent to 31 December 1960. Eligibility for award, commencing
with the period after 31 December 1960, was established by DOD Directive
1348.7, dated 1 April 1966, and terminated effective 15 August 1974, per
letter from Manpower and Reserve Affairs, subject: Termination of Eligibility
for the National Defense Service Medal, dated 30 June 1974. The NDSM was
again authorized by memorandum, dated 20 February 1991, from Secretary of
Defense Cheney for active service on or after 2 August 1990 with no termination
date established. The termination date was later established as 30 November
b. The Heraldic
Division, Quartermaster Generals Office, was requested to provide proposed
designs for the NDSM and designs created by Mr. T. H. Jones were submitted
to the G1 on 26 May 1953. A committee appointed by DOD, which included
representatives of all services, met on 27 May 1953 and 3 June 1953 and selected
the design for final approval. The eagle, our National emblem, together with
the shield of the Coat of Arms of the United States is used to symbolize
the defense of the United States. The combination of oak and palm leaves
signify strength and preparedness.
c. Order of precedence
and wear policy for medals awarded to Army personnel is contained in AR 670-1.
Policy for awards, approving authority and supply of medals is contained
in AR 600-8-22.