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Distinguished Service Medal Recipients

1950, Maj. Gen. Milton A. Reckord

A 1950 recipient of the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal, Reckord had a career that spanned the Mexican Expedition, World War I and World War II.

As adjutant general of Maryland's National Guard for nearly 46 years, Reckord was a strong advocate of universal military training, convinced that well-trained units would be better suited for battle if called upon for active duty.

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1950, Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers

The battlefield for Rogers wasn't Europe or the Pacific, but in Congress, where for 35 years she fought for veterans. In 1950, The American Legion honored her with the Distinguished Service Medal.

In his tribute to Rogers, the Rev. Edward J. Carney told Legionnaires, "She was one of the leaders in the fight for sufficient airplanes to make our Air Corps the finest in the world. Her advocacy of a large Navy and her voting record for large appropriations for naval defense are well known."

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1949, George Herman "Babe" Ruth

In 1949, a year after the baseball icon's death, Past National Commander James O'Neil presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Babe Ruth's widow, Claire, saying, "In a land where every man has an even chance to make good, success stories have become a rule. Certainly, the big fellow who started out as a tyke in a Baltimore orphanage wrote one of the brightest."

Inning after inning, game after game, George Herman Ruth became a household name starting in 1914 - first with the Boston Red Sox, then 14 years with the New York Yankees, and ending in 1935 with the Boston Braves.

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1949, Maj. Gen. Frank Parker

When The American Legion awarded a Distinguished Service Medal posthumously to Parker in 1949, his widow, Katherine, told the convention, "The American Legion was ever close to his heart. He had shared your sufferings, your rejoicings and your ambitions both at home and overseas, and he gloried in being one of you.

"On his very last day, what might be termed his final official act was to complete the draft of a national-defense report for The American Legion. Thus, he was with you to the end of his long, active and purposeful life."

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1949, President Harry Truman

At The American Legion's 1949 convention, Truman was called "just one of the guys" as he received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal. A 30-year Legionnaire and founding member of his post in Independence, Mo., he was the first president from the Legion's ranks. But Defense Secretary Louis Johnson, a past national commander, spoke of a much more common Harry: "In his simplicity, his humility, his charm, his devotion to his friends and his warm understanding of his fellow Americans, our friend and fellow veteran, Harry Truman, never seems to change ...

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1947, Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson

As Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan called Fred M. Vinson to the podium to receive a the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal, he praised him for serving his country during World War I, and as being one of the Legion's own. Upon returning home, Vinson helped organize W.O. Johnson Post 89 in Louisa, Ky., and became its first post commander.

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1947, Lt. Gen. William S. Knudsen

For his achievements in war production, the Danish-born Knudsen - who immigrated to the United States at 20 and built a career in industrial America that included the presidency of General Motors - received the 1947 Distinguished Service Medal, though illness kept him from the convention.

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1947, Sen. Edward Martin

Reflecting on Martin's 44-year military career, National Commander Harry Colmery praised the Keystone State senator as he presented him with the Distinguished Service Medal: "Today, The American Legion reaches into the state of Pennsylvania, and places in her gallery of the great, a distinguished son of that state, who, in arts and learning, military prowess, public service and administration, and statesmanship reflects the character of our American heritage."

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1946, Bob Hope

Presenting the Distinguished Service Medal to Hope in 1946, Past National Commander John R. Quinn called the entertainer "the personal jester of every man and woman in uniform ... Wherever they were - in foxhole, Quonset hut, jungle or warship - he administered the toxin of cheer and laughter. ... He has flown one-half million miles to perform in the din of the front lines as well as in the hush of hospitals."

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1946, Cordell Hull

A longtime public servant who served nearly 12 years as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretary of state, Hull was too ill to attend the 1946 Legion national convention to receive the Distinguished Service Medal. Accepting the award on his behalf was Assistant Secretary of State John Hilldring, who said The American Legion always had Hull's "earnest support and affection."

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