Instituted: 1918 Criteria: Exceptionally meritorious service to the United States Government in a duty of great responsibility. Authorized by Congress on July 9, 1918 for exceptionally meritorious service to the United States while serving in a duty of great responsibility with the U.S. Army. It was originally intended for award for qualifying actions during wartime but was authorized for actions during wartime or peacetime. As the Army’s highest award for meritorious service or achievement, it has been awarded to both military and civilians, foreign and domestic. The first American to receive this medal was General John J. Pershing, commanding general of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I, on October 12, 1918. Individuals who had received the Certificate of Merit before its disestablishment in 1918 were authorized to receive the DSM. The Army DSM is seldom awarded to civilians and personnel below the rank of Brigadier General. The medal is a circular design containing the US Coat of Arms encircled by a blue ring with the inscription FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MCMXVII. Subsequent awards are denoted by the attachment of a bronze oak leaf cluster to the medal and ribbon. In the center of the reverse of the medal amidst several flags and weapons is a blank scroll for engraving the awardees’ name. The ribbon has a central wide white stripe edged with blue and an outer red band representing the colours of the United States flag. The Army Distinguished Service Medal was designed by Captain Aymar E. Embury III and sculpted by Private Gaetano Cecere.