UNITED STATES NAVY
1. Description: (Front) The central feature of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal is an American bald eagle with displayed wings in the center of a gilt-bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter. The eagle holds an olive branch and arrows in its right and left talons, respectively. The eagle is surrounded by a blue enameled ring which contains the words, UNITED STATES NAVY, with NAVY centered at the bottom. Outside the blue enamel ring is a gold border consisting of scroll waves moving in a clockwise direction. The medal is suspended from its ribbon by a five-pointed star (point up) tipped with gold balls. In the center of the star is an anchor, and gold rays emanate from the re-entrant angles of the star.
The basic theme of the obverse design is taken from the Army Distinguished Service Medal, which also has an eagle in the center and which is also surrounded by a blue enameled ring. The eagle is the American bald eagle and represents the United States, while the scroll waves allude to naval service (as does the star which suspends the medal). The olive branches and arrows in the eagles talons refer to distinguished service in either war or peace. The star used in the suspender stands for military service, and the anchor within the star indicates service performed on behalf of the Navy.
(Reverse Side) In the center of a gilt-bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, a trident surrounded by a wreath of laurel. The wreath is in turn surrounded by a blue enamel ring which contains the inscription FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE. The blue enamel ring is surrounded by scroll waves of the same type found on the obverse of the medal.
The trident symbolizes the authority of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea who had the power to cause earthquakes (in Roman mythology Poseidon was called Neptune). The trident thus alludes to naval service, as do the scroll waves which surround the blue ring. The laurel wreath surrounding the trident represents achievement.
2. Ribbon: The ribbon to the Navy Distinguished Service Medal is a field of Navy blue with a center stripe of gold. These are the colors of the U.S. Navy.
3. Criteria:The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to service members who, while serving in any capacity with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility.
4. Components: Additional awards of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal are denoted by gold stars five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.
5. Background: The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was established by Act of Congress (Public Law 253, 65th Congress), approved February 4, 1919. The Navy Distinguished Service Medal has been in effect since April 6, 1917. The medal was designed by Paul Manship (1885-1966). The first person to receive the Navy Distinguished Service Medal was Brigadier General Charles A. Doyen, USMC, who received the medal posthumously on March 13, 1919.