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Distinguished Service Medal Recipients

1991, President George H.W. Bush

Bush accepted the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1991, telling Legionnaires that the United States must remain strong in every way. "In the 21st century, America must be not only a military superpower," he told delegates, "but also an economicsuper power and an export superpower .... We didn't end the Cold War to make the world safe for trade wars. We must fight the protectionist impulse here at home and we must work with our partners for trade that is free, fair and open."

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1990, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey

For his contributions to the armed forces and his pioneering work in the field of open-heart surgery, the Legion gave the Distinguished Service Medal to DeBakey, who developed the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, or MASH, unit common in the Korean War. Presenting the award, National Commander Miles S. Epling said DeBakey "has the enviable reputation as a medical statesman, serving as adviser to almost every president in the past 50 years. ...

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1989, Howard H. Baker Jr.

A World War II Navy veteran and a member of Post 136 in Oneida, Tenn., Baker received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1989 for an illustrious Senate career spanning 18 years. Four years earlier, he received the Legion's Distinguished Service Award.

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1988, Douglas Edwards

For his contributions as a World War II correspondent, and his role as anchorman of the first regularly-scheduled daily television news report, Douglas Edwards received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1988.

The National Executive Committee praised Edwards for his trustworthy journalism, stating that he has "contributed to the high national morale and public awareness as a correspondent during World War II (on CBS Radio), which influenced the conviction and resolve of the citizens of the United States of America to endure to victory."

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1987, William H. Webster

At the Legion's Legislative Conference in Washington in 1987, Past National Commander James Dean presented Webster, then CIA director, with the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal.

After serving in World War II as a Navy lieutenant and again in the Korean War, Webster returned home to St. Louis and a private law practice. In time, he entered public service as a U.S. attorney, then became a U.S. district judge and an appellate court judge.

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1985, Caspar W. Weinberger

For his support of a strong national defense, Weinberger, one of the longest-serving Pentagon chiefs, received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1985.

"Weinberger has demonstrated many times over the importance of national defense for America by emphasizing the concept of peace through preparedness," National Commander Clarence M. Bacon said. "He has displayed untiring efforts and patriotic devotion in perpetuating American principles."

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1985, Fleet Adm. William F. Halsey Jr.

For a 44-year Navy career that spanned both world wars, Halsey was awarded the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal posthumously in 1985.

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1984, Sen. J. Strom Thurmond

When Thurmond received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1984, he had already served 29 years in the U.S. Senate. He would go on to serve another 19 years before retiring.

National Commander Keith A. Kreul said the Southern-Democrat-turned-Republican "actively opposed those who would break down our defenses and weaken our liberties."

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1983, Adm. Hyman C. Rickover

One of a small number of veterans who served the nation in four 20th-centurywars, Rickover "attained for this country pre-eminence in the field of Navy nuclear power," said National Commander Al Keller, presenting the admiral with the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1983. "Through (his) dynamic leadership and professional competence, our nation's capability to deter aggression has vastly improved and, through its service to the citizens of this great land, he has embodied the truest principles of patriotism."

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1982, President Ronald W. Reagan

For making national defense his highest priority, Reagan received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1982.

As commander in chief, Reagan has "prioritized the defense of the (United States) by embracing the concept of peace through preparedness, has displayed untiring efforts and patriotic devotion in perpetuating American principles, and has fostered the renewed spirit of volunteerism in America, which is in keeping with the highest traditions of The American Legion," the National Executive Committee stated.

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