Navy Cross

The Navy Cross is the United States military's second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat. The Navy Cross is awarded primarily to a member of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard (when operating under the Department of the Navy) for extraordinary heroism.[3] The medal is equivalent to the Army Distinguished Service Cross, the Air Force Cross, and the Coast Guard Cross.

The Navy Cross is bestowed by the Secretary of the Navy and may also be awarded to members of the other armed services, and to foreign military personnel while serving with the U.S. naval services. The Navy Cross was established by Act of Congress (Public Law 65-253) and approved on February 4, 1919.

Navy Cross
Navy Cross
Awarded by the Department of the Navy[1]
TypeMedal (decoration)
Awarded forDistinguishes himself or herself in action by extraordinary heroism in combat not justifying the Medal of Honor.
StatusCurrently awarded
EstablishedAct of Congress (Public Law 65-253), approved on February 4, 1919.
First awarded1919
Total awardedc. 6,900[2]
Next (higher)Medal of Honor
EquivalentArmy: Distinguished Service Cross
Air Force: Air Force Cross
Coast Guard: Coast Guard Cross
Next (lower)Distinguished Service Medals: Defense, Homeland Security, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard
Navy Cross ribbon

Service ribbon


The Navy Cross was instituted in part due to the entrance of the United States into World War I. Many European nations had the custom of decorating heroes from other nations, but the Medal of Honor was the sole U.S. award for valor at the time.[4] The Army instituted the Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Service Medal in 1918, while the Navy followed suit in 1919, retroactive to 6 April 1917. Originally, the Navy Cross was lower in precedence than the Medal of Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, because it was awarded for both combat heroism and for "other distinguished service."[4] Congress revised this on 7 August 1942, making the Navy Cross a combat-only decoration that follows the Medal of Honor in order of precedence. Since the medal was established, it has been awarded more than 6,300 times.[4] It was designed by James Earle Fraser.[4] Since the 11 September attacks the Navy Cross has been awarded 47 times, with two of them having the name of the recipient held in secret.[5] One of those secret awardings was due to actions during the 2012 Benghazi attack.[6]

The first actual recipient of the Navy Cross is unknown because initial awards were made from a lengthy list published after World War I.


The Navy Cross may be awarded to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces while serving with the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard (when under the Department of the Navy) who distinguishes himself or herself in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying an award of the Medal of Honor. The action must take place under one of three circumstances:

  1. In combat action while engaged against an enemy of the United States; or,
  2. In combat action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or,
  3. In combat action while serving with friendly foreign forces, who are engaged in armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The act(s) to be commended must be performed in the presence of great danger, or at great personal risk, and must be performed in such a manner as to render the individual's action(s) highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility. An accumulation of minor acts of heroism does not justify an award of the Navy Cross. As originally authorized, the Navy Cross could be awarded for distinguished non-combat acts, but legislation of 7 August 1942 limited the award to acts of combat heroism.


The Navy Cross originally was the Navy's third-highest decoration, after the Medal of Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. On 7 August 1942, Congress revised the order of precedence, placing the Navy Cross above the Distinguished Service Medal in precedence. Since that time, the Navy Cross has been worn after the Medal of Honor and before all other awards.

Additional awards of the Navy Cross are denoted by gold or silver 516 inch stars affixed to the suspension and service ribbon of the medal. A gold star would be issued for each of the second through fifth awards, to be replaced by a silver star which would indicate a sixth award. To date no one has received more than five awards.

Description and symbolism

"A gun crew of six Negroes who were given the Navy Cross for standing by their gun when their ship was damaged by enemy - NARA - 520688
Crew members of USS Intrepid: AtM2/c Jonell Copeland; StM Que Gant; StM Harold Clark, Jr.; StM James Dockery; StM Alonzo Swann; and StM Eli Benjamin, were awarded the Navy Cross for being the only gun crew who would fire one of their aircraft carrier's anti-aircraft guns into a kamikaze dive bomber as it was diving towards the carrier's flight deck and their battle station(s) during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944

The earliest version of the Navy Cross (1919–1928) featured a more narrow strip of white, while the so-called "Black Widow" medals awarded from 1941 to 1942 were notable for the dark color due to over-anodized finish. The medal is similar in appearance to the British Distinguished Service Cross.[4]

Obverse: The medal is a modified cross pattée one and a half inches wide. The ends of its arms are rounded whereas a conventional cross patée has arms that are straight on the end. There are four laurel leaves with berries in each of the re-entrant arms of the cross. In the center of the cross a sailing vessel is depicted on waves, sailing to the viewer's left. The vessel is a symbolic caravel of the type used between 1480 and 1500. Fraser selected the caravel because it was a symbol often used by the Naval Academy and because it represented both naval service and the tradition of the sea. The laurel leaves with berries refer to achievement.

Reverse: In the center of the medal, a bronze cross pattée, one and a half inches wide, are crossed anchors from the pre-1850 period, with cables attached. The letters USN are evident amid the anchors.

Service Ribbon

The service ribbon is navy blue with a center stripe of white identical to the suspension ribbon of the medal. The blue alludes to naval service; the white represents the purity of selflessness.

Notable recipients

United States Navy

United States Marine Corps

United States Army

United States Coast Guard

Non-U.S. recipients

Slightly more than 100 such honors have been extended to men who were not citizens of the United States.

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2018-01-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Recipients of the Navy Cross Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ SECNAVYINST 2006, 1650.1H, P. 2--22&23
  4. ^ a b c d e "The Navy Cross". Naval History and Heritage Command. January 17, 2018. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Brook, Tom Vanden (5 December 2016). "Navy secretary recommends two Medals of Honor". NavyTimes. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  6. ^ Scarborough, Rowen (25 January 2014). "Delta Force commando who saved 'numerous lives' in Benghazi seige honored". Washington Times. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
    Brook, Tom Vanden (16 May 2016). "Navy SEALs' secret medals reveal heroism over last 15 years". NavyTimes. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Chief Nurse Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, U.S. Navy".
  8. ^ "Benjamin Vaughan McCandlish". Military Times. Gannett Government Media. 2011. Archived from the original on May 18, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2011.
  9. ^ "Valor awards for Donald L. McFaul | Military Times Hall of Valor". 2010-07-04. Archived from the original on 2012-06-17. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
  10. ^ "Admiral M'Namee Dead in Newport: Former Head of Mackay Radio, Adviser at 1919 Paris Peace Parley, in Navy 42 Years". The New York Times. New York City. The New York Times Company. 31 December 1952. p. 15. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Jesse Naul Jr., decorated for extraordinary heroism in World War II combat, dies at 92". 14 April 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  12. ^ University of New Mexico NROTC Sun Line Vol.IV No.1 November 1965
  13. ^ "Shadow box". Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Valor awards for Robert J. Thomas | Military Times Hall of Valor". 2010-07-04. Archived from the original on 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
  15. ^ "Medal of Honor Recipients - World War II (A-F)". 16 June 2008. Archived from the original on 16 June 2008. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  16. ^ Cogswell, Julius. "Military Times Valor Awards for Julius Cogswell". Military Times Valor Awards. Military Times. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  17. ^ Harrington, Myron. "Valor Awards for Myron Harrington". Military Times Wall of Honor. Military Times. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  18. ^ Hope, Edward. "Valor Awards for Edward B. Hope". Military Times Wall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-05. Retrieved 2013-01-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ a b Larzelere, pp 178–179
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2011-04-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Commodore Philip F. Roach, USCG" (PDF). United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  23. ^ Skritskiy, Nikolai (2017). Флагманы Победы. Командующие флотами и флотилиями в годы Великой Отечественной войны 1941–1945 (in Russian). Litres. ISBN 9785457227477.
  24. ^ Dictionary of New Zealand Biography: Bridson bio notes
  25. ^ a b Dear, pp 46–47
  26. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography: Farncomb bio notes
  27. ^ "Full Text Citations For Award of The Navy Cross". To Foreign Personnel - World War II. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  28. ^ "Фисанович Израиль Ильич". Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Fisanovich, Izrail Ilyich -". Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  30. ^ "Virtual Wall page and Navy Cross citation".
  31. ^ Hallett, Frederick H. "Surcouf". The Submarine Review. Annandale, Virginia: The Naval Submarine League (Winter 2012): 72.
  32. ^ Royal New Zealand Navy: Phipps bio notes
  33. ^ Snelling, Stephen. (2002). The Naval VCs, p. 142.
  34. ^ "M. V. G. Greshilove (sic)". Military Times. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-08.


  • "Navy Cross". Service Medals and Campaign Credits of the United States. United States Navy. Retrieved July 10, 2007.
  • Dear, Murray (April 2015). "A Weekend's Leave in Auckland". Naval History. Annapolis, Maryland: U.S. Naval Institute. 29 (2): 46–47.
  • Larzelere, Alex (2003). The Coast Guard in World War I: An Untold Story. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-55750-476-0.

Further reading

External links

Allen H. Turnage

Allen Hal Turnage (January 3, 1891 – October 22, 1971) was a United States Marine Corps General who earned the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal while leading the 3rd Marine Division on Bougainville and Guam in World War II.

Benjamin McCandlish

Benjamin Vaughan McCandlish (June 3, 1886 – October 16, 1975) was a United States Navy Flag officer who served as the 36th Naval Governor of Guam and was a recipient of the Navy Cross.

McCandlish was born in Petersburg, Virginia, the fifth of six children of James Gray and Lelia Jane McCandlish, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1909.

Charles G. Long

Major General Charles Grant Long (December 14, 1869 – March 5, 1943) was the second Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was also a recipient of the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and Navy Cross.

Chesty Puller

Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller (June 26, 1898 – October 11, 1971) was a United States Marine Corps lieutenant general who fought guerrillas in Haiti and Nicaragua and, as a senior officer, served with distinction in World War II and the Korean War.

Puller is the most decorated Marine in American history. He is one of two United States servicemen to be awarded five Navy Crosses and one Army Distinguished Service Cross. Puller's six crosses are next in number to the eight times Eddie Rickenbacker received the nation's second-highest military award for valor.Puller retired from the Marine Corps in 1955, after 37 years of service. He lived in Virginia and died in 1971, at age 73.

Clinton A. Puckett

Sergeant Major Clinton A. Puckett (March 6, 1926 – September 3, 2002) served as the sixth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps from 1 February 1973, until he retired from active duty on 31 May 1975. He served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam; receiving the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism for actions during the Korean War. He was the last Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps to have served in World War II.

Distinguished Service Medal (United States Navy)

The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is a military decoration of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps which was first created in 1919. The medal is presented to recognize distinguished and exceptionally meritorious service to the United

States while serving in a duty or position of great responsibility. The award is the Navy and Marine Corps equivalent to the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal. The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was originally senior to the Navy Cross, until August 1942 when the precedence of the two decorations was reversed. Currently, it is worn after the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and before the Silver Star Medal.

Doris Miller

Doris "Dorie" Miller (October 12, 1919 – November 24, 1943) was an American Messman Third Class in the United States Navy. During the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Miller manned anti-aircraft guns (despite having no formal training in their use) and attended to the wounded. For his actions, he was recognized by the Navy and awarded the Navy Cross.

He was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the third highest honor awarded by the US Navy at the time, after the Medal of Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. The Navy Cross now precedes the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. Miller's acts were heavily publicized in the black press, making him an iconic emblem of the war for black Americans. Nearly two years after Pearl Harbor, he was killed in action when his ship, Liscome Bay, was sunk by a Japanese submarine during the Battle of Makin.

Edward Hanson

Edward William Hanson (February 12, 1889 – October 18, 1959) was a United States Navy Vice admiral and the 28th Governor of American Samoa from June 26, 1938 to July 30, 1940. As Governor of American Samoa, Hanson believed that the native Samoans had a good way of life, and did little to interfere with established practices on the islands.

Eli K. Cole

Eli Kelley Cole (September 1, 1867 – July 4, 1929) was the first Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1911 to 1915. He also briefly commanded the 41st Infantry Division at the end of World War I. Cole was awarded the Navy Cross for his service as "Commanding Officer of the First Provisional Brigade of Marines" during the Haitian Campaign from 1915-1917.

Cole graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1888. He then served two years as an ensign in the U.S. Navy before transferring to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Frank Evans (general)

Frank Edgar Evans (19 November 1876 – 25 November 1941) served as an infantryman in the Spanish–American War, and was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps on 15 February 1900.

Harry B. Liversedge

Brigadier General Harry Bluett Liversedge (September 21, 1894 – November 25, 1951), whose regiment figured in the historic raising the flag on Iwo Jima, was a United States Marine who died in 1951 after almost 25 years of service. His last assignment was as Director of the Marine Corps Reserve.

The former Olympic track star was awarded his second Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as commander of the 28th Marine Regiment at the Battle of Iwo Jima. He had won his first while leading the crack 1st Marine Raider Regiment in the tough jungle fighting on New Georgia. The citation for the second Navy Cross states in part:

"Landing on the fire-swept beaches 22 minutes after H-Hour, (the then) Colonel Liversedge gallantly led his men in the advance inland, executing a difficult turning maneuver to the south, preparatory to launching the assault on Mount Suribachi.."

Two decades prior, the name of Liversedge was familiar one in sports page headlines, when as a member of the Naval Academy track squads, he participated in the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games. He also figured prominently in football as a member of the championship Marine football teams of the early 1920s.

James Roosevelt

James Roosevelt II (December 23, 1907 – August 13, 1991) was an American businessman, Marine, activist, and Democratic Party politician. The oldest son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, he received the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Marine Corps officer during World War II. He served as an official Secretary to the President and in the United States House of Representatives.

John Basilone

John Basilone (November 4, 1916 – February 19, 1945) was a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who was killed in action during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle for Henderson Field in the Guadalcanal Campaign, and the Navy Cross posthumously for extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was the only enlisted Marine to receive both of these decorations in World War II.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 3, 1940, after serving three years in the United States Army with duty in the Philippines. He was deployed to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in August 1942, he took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal. In October, he and two other Marines used machine guns to hold off an attack by a far numerically superior Japanese force. In February 1945, he was killed in action on the first day of the invasion of Iwo Jima, after he single-handedly destroyed an enemy blockhouse and led a Marine tank under fire safely through a minefield.

He has received many honors including being the namesake for streets, military locations, and two United States Navy destroyers.

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. (July 25, 1915 – August 12, 1944) was a United States Navy lieutenant. He was killed in action during World War II while serving as a land-based patrol bomber pilot, and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. He was the eldest of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. (1888–1969) and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890–1995). He was the only Kennedy son who never sought political office, though he had planned to.

Joe Sr. had aspirations for Joe Jr. to become president. However, Joe Jr. was killed while participating in a top-secret mission in 1944, and the high expectations of the father then fell upon Joe Jr.'s younger brother John, who was later elected president.

Marcus Luttrell

Marcus Luttrell (born November 7, 1975) is a former United States Navy SEAL who received the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for his actions in June 2005 against Taliban fighters during Operation Red Wings. Luttrell was a Hospital Corpsman First Class by the end of his eight-year career in the United States Navy.Luttrell co-hosts After Action, a TV show where former special operations veterans talk about issues in the United States. Glenn Beck is the executive producer of the show, which airs on TheBlaze.

Merritt A. Edson

Major General Merritt Austin Edson, Sr. (April 25, 1897 – August 14, 1955), known as "Red Mike", was a general in the United States Marine Corps. Among the decorations he received were the Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, the Silver Star, and two Legions of Merit. He is best known by Marines for the defense of Lunga Ridge during the Guadalcanal Campaign in World War II.

He received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marines in October 1917, and served in France and Germany in World War I. After the war he held several positions until going to flight school in 1922. After graduating flight school and being designated a Naval Aviator, he performed several assignments in Central America and China. It was in Central America where he received his first Navy Cross and the Nicaraguan Medal of Merit with Silver Star.

When World War II started Edson was sent as the Commanding officer of the Marine Raiders and earned his second Navy Cross on Tulagi. When his unit was sent to fight on Guadalcanal, Edson led his men in fighting for which he would later receive the Medal of Honor.

After World War II Edson held several commands until retiring from the Marine Corps August 1, 1947. After retirement he had several jobs including the Director of the National Rifle Association.

Navy Cross (South Africa)

The Navy Cross, post-nominal letters CN (Crux Navalis) is a military decoration which was instituted by the Republic of South Africa in 1987. It was awarded to members of the South African Navy for bravery. It was discontinued in 2003, but backdated awards can still be made for acts of bravery during this period.The first award was made by the then Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral Robert Simpson-Anderson on 15 August 1994.

Phil H. Bucklew

Phil Hinkle Bucklew (December 18, 1914 – December 30, 1992) was a professional American football player who went on to become a United States Navy officer. He served in one of the Navy's first special warfare units during World War II. While serving in the European Theater, he was twice awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest decoration in the United States Military.

After World War II, Bucklew completed his Ed.D. at Columbia University and went on to command SEAL Team One. In the early stages of the Vietnam War he authored a report in which he predicted the Vietcong would make use of the intercoastal waterways and rivers as routes for supplies and personnel. Although it was initially dismissed, this report was later used as a source to increase the use of Navy SEALs in direct action missions. In 1969 Bucklew retired as a Captain and worked as a consultant for a shipbuilding company in the private sector.

Bucklew died in 1992 after a series of strokes. He is known as the "Father of U.S. Naval Special Warfare" and the Phil Bucklew Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California bears his name.

Robert E. Cushman Jr.

Robert Everton Cushman Jr. (December 24, 1914 – January 2, 1985) was a United States Marine Corps general who served as the 25th Commandant of the Marine Corps from January 1, 1972 to June 30, 1975. He was honored for heroism during World War II at the battles of Guam (Navy Cross), Bougainville (Bronze Star Medal) and Iwo Jima (Legion of Merit). He also commanded all Marine forces in the Vietnam War from June to December 1967, and served as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1969 to 1971.

Personal decorations
Unit awards
Good Conduct medals
Expeditionary medals
Service ribbon awards
Coins and medals

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