Coast Guard Cross

Coast Guard Cross

Drawing of the Coast Guard Cross
Awarded by the United States Coast Guard
Type Military decoration
Eligibility Persons who are serving in any capacity with the United States Coast Guard
Awarded for Distinguishing themselves in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying the Medal of Honor.
Status Currently approved
Not yet awarded
Established 15 October 2010
Next (higher) Medal of Honor
Equivalent Army - Distinguished Service Cross
Navy - Navy Cross
Marine Corps - Navy Cross
Air Force - Air Force Cross
Next (lower) Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal

Coast Guard Cross Ribbon

The Coast Guard Cross is a military decoration of the United States Coast Guard. Established by Act of Congress on 15 October 2010, it is intended to recognize members of the United States Coast Guard for extraordinary heroism in action, while not operating under the Department of the Navy. Coast Guard members serving under the United States Navy would be eligible for the Navy Cross. This medal, though approved, has not yet been awarded.


In the past, during times of war, the US Coast Guard has operated as part of the US Navy. According to law under 14 U.S.C. §§ 43, "personnel of the Coast Guard shall be eligible to receive gratuities, medals, and other insignia of honor on the same basis as personnel in the naval service or serving in any capacity with the Navy." This allows the award of the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while engaged in combat or armed action. During World War II, six US Coast Guard personnel, four officers and two enlisted, were awarded the Navy Cross.[1]

On 4 August 1949, Public Law 63-535 was passed, bringing into force 14 U.S.C. § 492 and 14 U.S.C. § 493. This law established the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal and Coast Guard Medal. These awards were intended to parallel the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, being awarded under the same criteria to Coast Guard personnel when not under the command of the Navy. This began the creation of a separate system of awards and decorations for the US Coast Guard when not operating under the Department of the Navy.[2] In 1963, Public Law 88-77 even allowed for the award of the Medal of Honor to a member of the Coast Guard who met the award's criteria, without specifically being under the orders of the Navy.[3]

On 15 October 2010, Public Law 111-281 was passed establishing the Coast Guard Cross under 14 U.S.C. § 491a.[4]


Statute allows the President to award the Coast Guard Cross, to any person who distinguishes themselves by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of the Medal of Honor, while serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard, when the Coast Guard is not operating under the Department of the Navy, under one of the following conditions:[4]


The Coast Guard Cross is a four armed cross urdeé.[5] It is made of red brass with a 24 karat gold plated matte finish. The pendant is 2 1/4 inches high and 1 3/4 inches wide. Surmounting the cross is an integral suspension ring which takes the form of a rope with crossed oars. Between the arms of the cross are anchors.[6]

On the obverse, in the center of the cross is a shield similar to that found in the Great Seal of the United States. The stripes of the shield are alternating red and white colored enamel, while the chief is enameled blue with white five-pointed stars. The shield is surrounded by a wreath of twenty-six enameled green leaves.[6]

The reverse is identical to the obverse, except the center does not have a shield. In the center is the inscription FOR arched above and VALOR arched below.[6]

The cross is suspended from a 1 3/8 inch ribbon of navy blue. In the center is a 5/32 inch stripe of scarlet, flanked by 1/16 inch stripes of ultramarine blue, bordered in white.[7]

The Coast Guard Cross was designed by the United States Army Institute of Heraldry.[6]

See also


  2. "Medals and Awards Manual- COMDTINST M1650.25D" (PDF). United States Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  3. "AN ACT To amend titles 10, 14, and 38, United States Code, with respect to the award of certain medals and the Medal of Honor Roll." (PDF). Government Printing Office. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Public Law 111–281 An Act To authorize appropriations for the Coast Guard for fiscal year 2011, and for other purposes." (PDF). Government Printing Office. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  5. Whitmore, William Henry (1866). The Elements of Heraldry: Containing an Explanation of the Principles of the Science and a Glossary of the Technical Terms Employed. Lee & Shepard. p. 35.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Decoration, Cross, U.S. Coast Guard MIL-DTL-3943/354". US Department of Defense. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  7. "Ribbon, Coast Guard Cross MIL-DTL-11589/641". US Department of Defense. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2013.

External links

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