Awards and decorations of the United States Air Force are military decorations which are issued by the Department of the Air Force to Air Force service members and members of other military branches serving under Air Force commands. Of all five branches of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard currently maintain the highest number of active awards and decorations (while the Air Force has more ribbons, the Coast Guard has more medals).
United States Air Force awards were first created in 1947. At that time, Air Force members were eligible to receive most U.S. Army decorations and Air Force veterans of World War II were entitled to continue displaying World War II campaign medals.
In 1962, following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Air Force began a concentrated effort to create its own array of awards and Air Force members could no longer receive decorations of the United States Army as a matter of course. By the end of the Vietnam War, most of the modern day Air Force decorations had been established and Air Force members were also entitled to receive and wear all inter-service awards and decorations (see also the interservice Air Medal-which ranks above Aerial Achievement Medal).
By the start of the 21st century, the Air Force had created several new ribbons as well as an Air Force specific campaign medal known as the Air and Space Campaign Medal. Since then, members of other military branches have been known to comment upon the high amount of awards and decorations that the Air Force bestows and some Air Force awards (such as the Air Force Training Ribbon) are not permitted for wear on United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps uniforms due to the awards having no equivalent in the sea services.
In February 2006, the United States Air Force ceased issuing new awards of the Good Conduct Medal, however, the medal was reinstated in February 2009. The AFGCM has also been back-awarded to those who were in service during the three year break in new awards. By retro-actively awarding those who deserved the medal, it is as if the medal had never been taken away.
Air Force members are also eligible to receive approved foreign awards and approved international decorations. The currently issued active Air Force decorations are as follows:
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