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Certificate of Merit (COM)


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NAME:

Certificate of Merit Medal

 

OVERVIEW:

The Certificate of Merit Medal was a military decoration of the United States Army that was issued between the years of 1905 to 1918. The Certificate of Merit Medal was a military decoration which replaced the much older "Certificate of Merit" which had first been issued by the U.S. Army in 1847.

 

The original Certificate of Merit was issued to 539 Army soldiers during the Mexican-American War. The first certificates were only authorized for Privates and it was not until 1854 that the Certificate of Merit was awarded to NCOs the rank of Sergeant and above. The Certificate of Merit was never authorized for officers.

 

In 1892, the criteria for the Certificate of Merit was changed and now was presented to:

 

"Any enlisted members of the Army for distinguished service whether in action or otherwise, of valuable character to the United States, as, for example, extraordinary exertion in the preservation of human life, or in the preservation of public property, or rescuing public property from destruction by fire or other-wise, or any hazardous service by which the Government is saved loss in men and material."

 

Several changes in rules governing awards of the Cerificate of Merit evolved from experience in handling the recommendations for the Spanish American War, the early period of the Philippine Insurrection, and the China Relief Expedition. Changes to the regulations announced in March 1903 required a second eyewitness statement to support each reommendation when the first statement was not from a commissioned officer and stated no award would be made when the subsequent service of the individual recommended had not been honorable. This latter rule had been followed since the revival of the award in 1878, but was now explicitly stated. Other restictions were announced in 1903--a Certificate could be granted only if it were recommended by the regimental of corps commander as of the date of the recommendation, and the regimental or corps commander had to specifically recommend the award. These requirements delayed or precluded numerous awards including some to men who had left the service or been commissioned efore the date of the regimental commanders' recommendations, and men who had been originally recommended for Medals of Honor by regimental commanders.

 

There were 205 Certificates of Merit awarded under the new authority for decoration. In 1905, the name of the decoration was changed to the Certificate of Merit Medal and authorized for wear on a United States military uniform. The first recipient of the Certificate of Merit medal was First Lt. William Baker, who had received an original Certificate of Merit as an Corporal during the Spanish-American War.

 

Although the medal could be awarded for non-combat heroism, the Certificate of Merit was often awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

 

The Certificate of Merit was considered a single decoration for one-time issuance only. It was declared obsolete and removed from U.S. award precedence charts on July 9, 1918 following the creation of the Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Service Medal.

 

 

From: http://www.answers.com/topic/certificate-of-merit-medal

 

RIBBON:

The ribbon to the Certificate of Merit Medal consists of two sections of red, white and blue (with the blue on the outside and the red stripes separated by a narrow white stripe in the center of the ribbon).

 

The colors are taken from the flag and represent the United States. The color blue is at the outer edges (the "senior" position on the ribbon) because blue is the national color. The colors were arranged in two adjacent bands of red, white and blue (separated by a white stripe) to distinguish this ribbon from all others employing some combination of red, white and blue.

 

From: http://www.foxfall.com/fmd-army-com.htm

 

 

DESCRIPTION:

The Certificate of Merit Medal was designed by Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912)

 

Obverse

In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, a Roman war eagle with wings partly displayed. Its head is in profile (to the left), and the eagle is surrounded by the Latin inscription VIRTUTIS ET AUDACIAE MONUMENTUM ET PRAEMIUM.

 

The eagle was modeled by Millet from life-sized marble antique statue then in the possession of Lord Weyms, who was well-known for his interest in British volunteers. The eagle represents the American bald eagle and military service. The inscription means courage and virtue are their own reward and monument.

 

Reverse

In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, the words FOR MERIT surrounded by a wreath composed of two branches of oak, the stems joined at the bottom by a conventional bow. The whole is in a circle Composed of the words, UNITED STATES ARMY in the upper half and thirteen stars in the lower half.

 

The inscription in the center denotes the purpose of the medal while the oak wreath represents strength, courage and achievement. The thirteen stars refer to the original thirteen colonies and thereby to the United States.

 

From: http://www.foxfall.com/fmd-dod-ddsm.htm

 

 

CRITERIA:

 

For Gallantry in Action During the Mexican War

From May 13, 1846 through May 30, 1848 (during the War with Mexico), it could be awarded "to any private soldier who has distinguished himself by gallantry performed in the presence of the enemy." During this period 539 Certificates of Merit were approved.

 

For Gallantry in Action (Post-Civil War)

From June 22, 1874 through February 10, 1892 it could be awarded for extraordinary gallantry by private soldiers in the presence of the enemy. A total of 462 Certificates of Merit were awarded for gallantry in action between 1874 and 1918, when it was disestablished.

 

For Distinguished Service Other Than In Action

From February 11, 1892 through July 9, 1918 the Certificate of Merit could be awarded to enlisted members of the Army for "distinguished service whether in action or otherwise, of valuable character to the United States, as, for example, extraordinary exertion in the preservation of human life, or in the preservation of public property, or rescuing public property from destruction by fire or other-wise, or any hazardous service by which the Government is saved loss in men and material." A total of 205 Certificates of Merit were awarded under these criteria.

 

From: http://www.foxfall.com/fmd-dod-ddsm.htm

 

 

 

ORDER OF PRECEDENCE:

The Certificate of Merit is obsolete, but based on the fact that was ultimately replaced by the Distinguished Service Cross its order of precedence would be after the Medal of Honor and before all other decorations.

 

From: http://www.foxfall.com/fmd-dod-ddsm.htm

 

DEVICES:

No provisions were made for devices to be worn on the Certificate of Merit Medal.

 

From: http://www.foxfall.com/fmd-dod-ddsm.htm

 

CONVERSTION AWARDS:

When the Certificate of Merit was disestablished by Act of Congress in 1918, the law provided that the "Distinguished Service Medal also be issued to all enlisted men of the Army to whom the certificate of merit has been granted... in lieu of such certificates of merit, and after the passage of this act the award of the certificate of merit for distinguished service shall cease...." A total of 271 recipients applied for the Distinguished Service Medal in lieu of previously awarded Certificates of Merit.

 

By the Act of March 5, 1934, Congress provided "That the Distinguished Service Cross shall be issued to all enlisted men of the Army to whom the certificate of merit was issued" and that "those persons who have heretofore received the Distinguished Service Medal [in lieu of a Certificate of Merit] shall be issued the Distinguished Service Cross provided the Distinguished Service Medal is first surrendered to the War Department." Only 54 holders of the Certificate of Merit applied for a Distinguished Service Cross in lieu of their certificate; through July of 1941 an additional 21 received the Distinguished Service Cross in lieu of the Distinguished Service Medal which they had applied for under the provisions of the 1918 law.

 

From: http://www.foxfall.com/fmd-army-com.htm

 

 

RECIPIENTS:

 

First Recipient

The first recipient of the Certificate of Merit medal (medal number 1) was 1st Lieutenant William B. Baker, who received his medal on December 30, 1907. His Certificate of Merit was awarded for distinguished service in action at Manila on August 13, 1898, while serving as a corporal in the Astor Battery.

 

Last Recipient

The last recipient of the Certificate of Merit medal (medal number 361) was George Arrington, who received his medal on May 1, 1919 for gallant and meritorious conduct while serving as a Private in Company C, 24th Infantry. Arrington served with "a detachment escorting Major Joseph W. Wham, Paymaster, U.S. Army, in an encounter with a band of robbers, by whom the party was attacked between Forts Grant and Thomas, Arizona, May 11, 1889."

 

From: http://www.foxfall.com/fmd-army-com.htm

 

 

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