This medal was authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Reagan in 1986. The medal may be awarded to any person who was a prisoner of war after April 5, 1917, (the date of the United States entry into World War I).
It is awarded to any person who was taken prisoner or held captive while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force; or while serving with friendly forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The person's conduct, while in captivity, must have been honorable. This medal may be awarded posthumously to the surviving next of kin of the recipient.
The medal was designed by Jay C. Morris of the Institute of Heraldry. On the obverse of the medal is an American eagle, wings folded, and completely enclosed (imprisoned) by a ring and following the outline of the medal. The reverse of the medal has the inscription, “Awarded To” (with a blank area for the recipient's name) “For Honorable Service While a Prisoner of War” in three centered lines. Below this is a shield of the United States, and below, following the curvature of the medal, are the words, United States of America.
The ribbon has a very wide center stripe of black, flanked on either side by a narrow white stripe, then a thin blue stripe, then another thin white stripe, and then a thin red stripe at the edge of the medal.
WEIGHTED AIRMAN PROMOTED SYSTEM POINT VALUE: 0