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.

Once a liberal Democrat, Reagan was a screen actor with more than 50 films to his credit. He became a Republican in 1962, leading him to support Barry Goldwater's bid for the presidency in 1964.

During World War II, Reagan served in the Army and Army Air Forces. As a politician, he served two terms as governor of California from 1967 to 1975, and as chairman of the Republican Governors Association from 1968 to 1970. After two unsuccessful bids for the presidency in 1968 and 1976, he won in 1980, serving two terms until 1989.

The 40th president survived an assassination attempt in his first term, and ordered military action in Grenada. His second term saw the end of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya and the Iran-Contra Affair.

In 1994, Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He lived another 10 years, dying in California in 2004, at 93.

For more on Reagan, click here (


View more Distinguished Service Medal recipients