Legion of Merit, Officer

SKU: 02.USA.0113.103.01

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  • Officer Obverse
  • Officer Obverse
  • Officer Reverse


  • country
    United States
  • date of institution
    July 20, 1942
  • remarks
    The Legion of Merit was designed by Colonel Robert Townsend Heard and influenced by the French Legion of Honour. The rank, regiment and actions of the recipient will influence the value of the decoration.


The Legion of Merit was established by President Franklin Roosevelt by Act of Congress on July 20, 1942. The Legion of Merit is the second highest American award for service and achievement and the first American decoration awarded to citizens of other nations. Additionally, it is the only award in the world in which higher grades are not awarded to citizens of the country's origins. Until 1943, the Decoration was awarded by the President of the United States. However, between 1943 and 1955, it was awarded by the War Department, and since 1953, it has been awarded by general and flag Officers of the Lieutenant General or Vice Admiral level or above. The Legion of Merit was created as an award to honour foreign military personnel without diluting the significance of the Distinguished Service Medal as well as to recognize members of the United States Armed Forces for a wide range of outstanding contributions made to America's war efforts. The award is presented to personnel of the Armed Forces of both the United States and friendly foreign nations for exceptionally distinguished and meritorious service. It is most often awarded to personnel occupying senior positions, however, warrant officers and enlisted men may also be eligible for the award. Since 1957, exceptional meritorious service in a sustained period of difficult and increasingly important duty positions during peace-time has also been eligible for the award. Following the end of the Vietnam War, the Decoration is often awarded upon retirement, with such instances constituting a majority of all awards of the Legion of Merit. The Legion of Merit is awarded in 4 grades to foreigners but is awarded to American citizens without reference to a grade.

The Legion of Merit's motto is "Annuit Coeptis" which translates to "He (God) has Favoured our Undertakings."

Bronze or silver oak leaf emblems are worn on the service ribbon to denote additional awards for Army and Airforce personnel while gold or silver stars emblems are worn on the service ribbon to denote additional awards of the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard personnel may also wear a bronze emblem in the shape of a "V" on the ribbon to denote awards made in recognition of valour.

The Officer grade is presented to foreign military personnel who hold an equivalent position of a United States military Chief of Staff or below, general and flag Officers, colonials for service normally provided by general or flag Officers, or other military attach├ęs who have demonstrated exceptional and distinguished meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States. The Officer's Badge is worn from a breast ribbon and features a miniature gold pendant of Badge that is worn on the suspension ribbon.

The Officer's Badge features a reverse Latin inscription of the Legion of Merit's motto and the date of America's first decoration, the Purple Heart (1782).

There may be additional versions of the Officer's Badge which vary by composition.


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  • Price

    $150+ USD

  • Composition

    Gilded Bronze/Enamelled

  • Inscription


  • Size


  • Maker

  • Version Remarks

    The rank, regiment and actions of the recipient will influence the value of the decoration. Numbered Officer's Badges may be encountered.

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