Air Force Medal

The Air Force Medal (AFM) was a military decoration, awarded to personnel of the Royal Air Force and other British Armed Forces, and formerly to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy". The award was discontinued in 1993 when all ranks became eligible for the Air Force Cross (AFC) as part of the reform of the British honours system.[4]

Air Force Medal
Air Force Medal (UK) Reverse
Reverse of medal
Awarded by UK and Commonwealth
TypeMilitary decoration.
EligibilityBritish, Commonwealth, and allied forces non-commissioned officers and men
Awarded for...acts of courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy.[1]
StatusDiscontinued in 1993.
Statistics
Established3 June 1918
Order of Wear
Next (higher)Distinguished Flying Medal[2]
Next (lower)Constabulary Medal (de jure)[2]
Queen's Gallantry Medal (de facto)[3]
Ribbon - Air Force Medal

Ribbon bar

History

The medal was established on 3 June 1918. It was the other ranks' equivalent to the Air Force Cross (AFC), which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers, although the latter could also be awarded the AFM. It ranked below the AFC in order of precedence, between the Distinguished Flying Medal and the Queen's Gallantry Medal.[2]

Although the new award was announced in the London Gazette on 3 June 1918,[5] the actual Royal Warrants were not published in the London Gazette until 5 December 1919.[6]

A bar, worn on the ribbon, could be awarded to recognise a second award of the Air Force Medal.[4]

Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "AFM".[7]

The first two awards appeared in the London Gazette on 3 June 1918, to:[8]

  • 11680 Serjeant Samuel James Mitchell (of Handsworth, Birmingham).
  • 106100 Serjeant Frederick Charles Tucker (of Birtley, Durham).

Twenty-nine awards appeared in a supplement to the London Gazette of 8 February 1919.[9][10]

The first awards of a bar to the Air Force Medal were announced on 26 December 1919, to two sergeants in the Australian Flying Corps, for providing support to a pioneering flight from London to Australia:[11]

  • 275 Sergeant James Mallett Bennett, A.F.M.[12]
  • 8974 Sergeant Walter Henry Shiers, A.F.M.[13]

In 1979 eligibility for a number of British awards, including the AFM, was extended to permit posthumous awards.[14] Until that time, only the Victoria Cross and a mention in dispatches could be awarded posthumously.

In 1993, the AFM was discontinued, as part of the review of the British honours system, which recommended removing distinctions of rank in respect of awards for bravery. Since then, the Air Force Cross, previously only open to Commissioned and Warrant Officers, has been awarded to personnel of all ranks.[4]

The AFM had also been awarded by Commonwealth countries but by 1990's most, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, had established their own honours systems and no longer recommended British honours.[15]

Numbers of awards

Between 1918 and 1993 approximately 942 medals and ten second award bar were awarded.[7]

Period. Medals. Bars.
1918–1919 102 2
1920–1929 48 3
1930–1937 20 [16]
1938–1939 38
1940–1945 259
1946–1952 175
1953–1993 300 [17] 5 [18]
Total 942 10

Awards include several to the Royal Navy and the Army Air Corps. Fifteen honorary awards were made to aircrew from foreign countries, one in 1919 and 14 for service during the Second World War. Civilians were eligible for the AFM from 1919 to 1932, three awards being made.[7]

Description

Bar to the Air Force Cross
Ribbon bar for a 2nd award
  • The AFM is an oval silver medal, 1 38 inches (35 millimetres) wide with a height of 1 58 inches (41 millimetres), with the following design:[7]
  • The obverse shows the effigy and titles of the reigning sovereign:
  • King George V bare headed (1918-29)
  • King George V in crown and robes (1930–1937)
  • King George VI with 'IND: IMP:' (Indian Emperor) in the inscription (1938–1949)
  • King George VI without 'IND: IMP:' in the inscription (1949–1953)
  • Queen Elizabeth II (1953–1993)
The three most common obverse designs were:
Distinguished Flying Medal, George V obverse

George V 1918-30

Distinguished Flying Medal, George VI obverse

George VI 1938-49

Distinguished Flying Medal. Elizabeth II obverse

Elizabeth II 1953-93

  • The reverse shows Hermes (facing right), mounted on a hawk in flight and bestowing a wreath, all contained within a narrow laurel wreath band. The date "1918" appears behind Hermes on the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II versions of the medal.
  • The suspension consists of two outstretched wings.
  • Further awards are signified by a straight slip-on silver bar with an eagle in the centre.
  • All awards have the name and service details of the recipient engraved or impressed on the rim.
  • The ribbon is 1 14 inches (32 millimetres) wide, and consists of alternate red and white stripes, 116 inch (2 millimetres) wide, leaning 45 degrees to the left. A red stripe is to appear in the bottom left and upper right corners when viewed on the wearer's chest. Until 1919, the stripes were horizontal.
Air Force Medal ribbon bars
AFM AFM and Bar
1918–1919
UK AFM 1918 ribbon
UK AFM 1918 w Bar ribbon
1919–1993
UK AFM ribbon
UK AFM w Bar ribbon

See also

Bibliography

  • Abbott and Tamplin (1981). British Gallantry Awards. Nimrod Dix & Co. ISBN 0902633740.
  • Duckers, Peter (2001). British Gallantry Awards, 1855–2000. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7478-0516-8.
  • Mussell, John (ed). (2015). Medal Yearbook 2015. Honiton, Devon: Token Publishing. ISBN 978-1-908-828-16-3.

References

  1. ^ "Military Honours and Awards". UK Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "No. 56878". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 March 2003. p. 3352.
  3. ^ "JSP 761 Honours and Awards in the Armed Forces" (PDF). p. 12A-1. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Duckers (2001), pp 49.
  5. ^ "No. 30723". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 1918. pp. 6533–6534.
  6. ^ "No. 31674". The London Gazette. 5 December 1919. pp. 15049–15050.
  7. ^ a b c d Abbott & Tamplin (1981), AFM chapter, pp 11-15
  8. ^ "No. 30722". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 1918. pp. 6520–6521.
  9. ^ "No. 31170". The London Gazette. 7 February 1919. p. 2049.
  10. ^ Also listed in Flight Magazine, 20 February 1919 at page 243.
  11. ^ Edinburgh Gazette, 30 December 1919 page 4145.
  12. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography - J M Bennett AFM*
  13. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography - W H Shiers AFM*
  14. ^ Abbott & Tamplin (1981), page xx.
  15. ^ Mussell (2015), pp 390, 429, 459.
  16. ^ Including Flight Lieutenant Dominic Bruce, the only recipient of both the Military Cross and AFM.
  17. ^ Abbott page 14 indicates 209 AFM awards 1953-79. Approx 90 further awarded 1980-93.
  18. ^ Abbott page 14 lists nine bar recipients, including 4 since 1953. One more is listed in London Gazette: 31 Dec 79. F/Sgt J D Robertson, RAF
1921 Birthday Honours

The 1921 Birthday Honours were appointments by King George V to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of the British Empire. The appointments were made to celebrate the official birthday of the King, and were published on 3 and 4 June 1921.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and arranged by honour, with classes (Knight, Knight Grand Cross, etc.) and then divisions (Military, Civil, etc.) as appropriate.

1947 New Year Honours (New Zealand)

The 1947 New Year Honours in New Zealand were appointments by King George VI on the advice of the New Zealand government to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by New Zealanders, and to celebrate the passing of 1946 and the beginning of 1947. They were announced on 1 January 1947.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour.

1951 New Year Honours (New Zealand)

The 1951 New Year Honours in New Zealand were appointments by King George VI on the advice of the New Zealand government to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by New Zealanders. The awards celebrated the passing of 1950 and the beginning of 1951, and were announced on 1 January 1951.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour.

1955 New Year Honours (New Zealand)

The 1955 New Year Honours in New Zealand were appointments by Elizabeth II on the advice of the New Zealand government to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by New Zealanders. The awards celebrated the passing of 1954 and the beginning of 1955, and were announced on 1 January 1955.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour.

1961 New Year Honours (New Zealand)

The 1961 New Year Honours in New Zealand were appointments by Elizabeth II on the advice of the New Zealand government to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by New Zealanders. The awards celebrated the passing of 1960 and the beginning of 1961, and were announced on 31 December 1960.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour.

Gerald O. Young

Gerald Orren Young (May 19, 1930 – June 6, 1990) was a United States Air Force officer and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Hector Gray

Hector Bertram Gray (6 June 1911 – 18 December 1943) was an officer of the Royal Air Force, and a member of the British Army Aid Group, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for "most conspicuous gallantry" in resisting torture after the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in 1941.

Hilliard A. Wilbanks

Hilliard Almond Wilbanks (July 26, 1933 – February 24, 1967) was a career officer and pilot in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life on February 24, 1967, while supporting a unit of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) at Di Linh, near Da Lat, South Vietnam.

Howard Baugh

Howard Lee Baugh (January 20, 1920 – August 23, 2008) was a decorated

veteran of World War II and member of the Tuskegee Airmen.Baugh was born and raised in Petersburg, Virginia, where he graduated from Virginia State College in 1941.Baugh enlisted in the U.S. Army as an aviation cadet of the U.S. Army Air Corps in March 1942. He was accepted into a newly-formed group, later known as the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black unit at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in November 1942. In the group, 996 were pilots, and 450 of them were sent into combat. He flew 136 combat missions for the 332nd Fighter Group, 99th Flying Training Squadron in Sicily, Italy during World War. The group was nicknamed the "Red Tails" or "Red Tail Squadron" for the red-feather markings painted on the tails of their aircraft.After World War II, Baugh continued to serve in the military as a flight instructor, commander, and director of logistics. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1967.Military honors accorded Baugh include:

The Distinguished Flying Cross

The Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters

The Air Force Medal

The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

Burial in Arlington National Cemetery.Civilian recognition includes:

The Howard Baugh Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (2003)

The French Legion of Honor (2004, awarded by the French Defense Minister)

Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame Members (2006).

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the Tuskegee Airmen (2007, presented by President George W. Bush).A life-size statue of Baugh, sculpted by Antonio Tobias Mendez, was unveiled in November 2018 at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia (at the former First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory). It is the first monument in Virginia, and the eighth monument in the U.S., honoring a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Plans for the monument include permanently locating it to Petersburg.

Baugh was the widower of the former Constance Layne. He was survived by, among others, his sons—David P. Baugh of Richmond, Virginia, Howard Layne Baugh of Baltimore, and Richard Baugh of Fort Lauderdale, Florida—and two daughters-in-law, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Ike Owens

Isaac "Ike" Andrew Owens AFM (7 November 1918 – 15 October 1998) was a Welsh rugby union, and professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1940s and 1950s. He played club level rugby union (RU) for Blaengarw RFC (in Blaengarw, Bridgend), and Maesteg RFC, and armed forces rugby union for the Royal Air Force, as a number eight, and representative level rugby league (RL) for Great Britain and Wales, and at club level for Leeds, Castleford, and Huddersfield, as a loose forward.

James P. Fleming

James Phillip Fleming (born March 12, 1943) was a United States Air Force pilot in the Vietnam War. Born in Sedalia, Missouri, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing a six-man MACV-SOG Recon Team, stranded between heavily defended enemy positions, near Đức Cơ, Vietnam.

Joe M. Jackson

Joe Madison Jackson (March 14, 1923 – January 12, 2019) served as a career officer in the United States Air Force and received the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Vietnam War. On 12 May 1968, he volunteered for a dangerous impromptu rescue of three remaining Air Force members trapped at an overrun Army Special Forces camp. While the camp was still under heavy enemy fire from North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, he skillfully piloted his C-123 cargo plane and rescued the three men.

John Levitow

John Lee Levitow (November 1, 1945 – November 8, 2000) was a United States Air Force (USAF) Loadmaster who received the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism during wartime. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his acts of heroism while serving on board a Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunship of the 3d Special Operations Squadron USAF on February 24, 1969. He became the lowest ranked serviceman in the Air Force to receive the Medal of Honor, the United States military's highest honor.

Lance Sijan

Lance Peter Sijan (April 13, 1942 – January 22, 1968) was a United States Air Force officer and fighter pilot. On March 4, 1976, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military award, for his selflessness and courage in the face of lethal danger.

Marian Pisarek

Marian Pisarek (3 January 1912 – 29 April 1942), was a Polish fighter pilot, a flying ace of World War II, with 11 planes confirmed shot down and an additional three probable.

Recipients of the Air Force Medal

This is a list of recipients of the Air Force Medal of Australia.

Richard Etchberger

Richard Loy Etchberger (March 5, 1933 – March 11, 1968) was a senior non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force who posthumously received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Battle of Lima Site 85 in the Vietnam War. The medal was formally presented to his three sons by President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House on September 21, 2010.

Richard Summers (RAF officer)

Wing Commander Richard Gordon Battensby "Dick" Summers, (18 October 1921 – 7 May 2017) was a Royal Air Force officer who served as an observer during the Battle of Britain, and was one of the last surviving men known as "The Few".

Steven L. Bennett

Steven Logan Bennett (April 22, 1946 – June 29, 1972) of Palestine, Texas was a United States Air Force pilot who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Vietnam War on August 8, 1974.

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