Air Force Achievement Medal
The Achievement Medal is a military medal of the United States military . The Achievement Medal was first proposed as a means to recognize the contributions of junior officers and enlisted personnel who were not eligible to receive the higher Commendation Medal or the Meritorious Service Medal .
Each military service issues its own version of the Achievement Medal, with a fifth version authorized by the Department of Defense for joint military activity. The Achievement Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service not of a nature that would otherwise warrant awarding the Commendation Medal. Since the Achievement Medal is designated as an award solely for junior personnel, it is generally only awarded to officers in the pay grade of O-4 and below and enlisted personnel below the grade of E-7. Award authority rests with local commanders, granting a broad discretion of when and for what action the Achievement Medal may be awarded.
The first service to issue the Achievement Medal was the United States Navy in 1961. The medal was originally entitled the “Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement Medal,” but this title was shortened in 1967 to the "Navy Achievement Medal." In 1994, to recognize United States Marines who had received the Navy Achievement Medal, the name of the decoration was officially changed to the "Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal." Nonetheless, the award is still referred to in shorthand as a 'NAM.'
The United States Coast Guard created its own Achievement Medal in 1967; however, the United States Army and U.S. Air Force waited until 1981 to issue their own versions of the award. The Joint Service Achievement Medal, considered a Department of Defense decoration senior to the service department Achievement Medals, was created in 1983.
Additional awards of the Achievement Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters , except for the Navy and Coast Guard which issues award stars . Oak leaf clusters are awarded by all services for the Joint Services Achievement Medal. The Valor device may also be awarded for the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard versions of the Achievement Medal. The Operational Distinguishing Device may also be authorized for wear on the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, upon approval of the awarding authority. Effective 11 September 2001 , the Army Achievement Medal may be awarded in a combat area, but for non-combat meritorious service.
From its inception to 2002, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal could not be approved by ship or squadron captains who were the rank of Commander. Awards for crewmembers had to be submitted to the Commodore or Wing Commander or the first appropriate O-6 in the chain of command for approval, who then signed the award and returned it. This led to a dramatically lower awarding rate when compared to similar size units in the Army or Air Force awarding their own achievement medals. Since 2002 the commanders of squadrons and ships have the authority to award NAMs without submission to higher authority.