Silver Lifesaving Medal
The Lifesaving Medal is a military decoration of the United States Coast Guard which was first created in June of 1874. The decoration is one of the oldest medals in the United States military and has remained unchanged in appearance since its initial conception.
The Lifesaving Medal is awarded to any member of the U.S. military, or U.S. civilian, who rescues, or endeavors to rescue, any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other peril of water. The rescue or attempted rescue must take place in waters within the United States, waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction, or one of the parties involved must be a citizen of the United States or be from a vessel or aircraft owned or operated by citizens of the United States.
The Lifesaving Medal is issued in two grades, being silver and gold. The Gold Lifesaving Medal is authorized if the individual attempting the rescue did so at extreme peril and risk of life. For all other rescues, the Silver Lifesaving Medal is authorized.
Until the mid 20th century, the Lifesaving Medal was often bestowed to members of the military, however in recent times the decoration has become somewhat rare. This is due primarily to the creation of a variety of additional military decorations, considered more prestigious than the Lifesaving Medal, which are often awarded in lieu.
For instance, the United States Navy will often issue the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, instead the Lifesaving Medal, for sea rescues involving risk of life.
The Coast Guard is the ultimate award authority for the Lifesaving Medal and issues the decorations to members of all military branches as well as civilians. Famous recipients of the Lifesaving Medal include Chester Nimitz and George S. Patton.
The Lifesaving Medal is unique among U.S. medals because it is actually cast from precious metal, silver or gold, depending on the grade. Most other medals are cast from inexpensive alloys.
Multiple awards of the Lifesaving Medal are denoted by award stars on the decorationís ribbon and a gold clasp, inscribed with the recipientís name, is worn on the actual medal.
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