Humanitarian Service Medal


This medal was authorized by Executive Order 11965, Jan. 19, 1977. It was established to honor personnel of the armed forces of the United States who distinguished themselves by meritorious direct participation (hands on) in a significant military act or operation of a humanitarian nature, or have rendered a service to mankind. Specifically excluded from eligibility are service members or elements remaining at a geographically separated location or to a location and did not make a direct contribution to influence the action. The medal was designed by Jim Hammond and sculptured by Jay Morris of the Institute of Heraldry.



The number of eligible operations are too numerous to mention and have included a wide variety of services from the first operation of the Guyana Disaster Relief in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978 and have included disaster, flood, tornado, and earthquake relief work and snow removal work. Also included were Operation BOAT PEOPLE, Evacuation of Laos, Cuban Refugee Resettlement, Beirut Evacuation, Cholera Epidemic in Turk Islands and operations of humanitarian aid in the United States and every corner of the world.


Please refer to DOD 1348.33 Vol 2 or click here for approved operations. Members can also view the myPers article: Approved Operations for Award of the Humanitarian Service Medal.



Centered on the obverse of the medal within a circle, is a right hand pointing diagonally upward with open palm, (to symbolize a giving or helping hand). At the top of the reverse of the medal is the inscription: “For Humanitarian Service” in three lines. Below this is an oak branch, with three leaves and three acorns, and below this, around the outside edge of the medal, is the inscription: “United States Air Forces.”



The ribbon has a wide center stripe of navy blue, flanked on either side by a broad stripe of medium blue, a thin strip of white, and a narrow strip of purple-maroon at the edges. Subsequent awards are indicated by a bronze service star worn on the medal ribbon and ribbon bar.



Service Star