Space Force Guardians Are Officially Eligible for the Bronze Star and Other Awards, Biden Says

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October 6, 2022
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The Space Force may be the youngest service branch but it’s not exactly new anymore, and on Monday the White House finally got around to some housekeeping that will officially make Guardians eligible for medals and citations such as the Bronze Star.

The changes made by President Joe Biden add the Space Force, founded in December 2019, into executive orders issued over the decades that govern the awarding of the Bronze Star, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal and others. The president also amended some of the language in the orders that date back to the World War II and Vietnam eras to indicate women may either bestow or receive the awards.

The official recognition from the White House comes as the Space Force approaches its third birthday this winter. Its second chief of space operations, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, will be taking command of the service after being confirmed last week by the Senate.

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The Bronze Star and Air Medal both were created during World War II and are awarded by all the military service branches for meritorious achievement on the battlefield. The Air Medal deals specifically with air operations, as the name implies.

The Good Conduct Medal, given to those with three years of distinguished service, was also a product of that war, and each service branch has its version. The changes announced by Biden also codified that the Space Force is eligible for citations by the president to military and naval units for outstanding performance in action.

Earlier this year, Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force Roger Towberman confirmed on the service’s Reddit page that a design for the service’s very own Good Conduct Medal had been submitted but had to be approved by Biden. An illustration of the medal showed the Space Force seal on the front and “Efficiency, Honor, Fidelity” on the back.

“We tried hard to make it distinct yet congruent with the other services,” Towberman wrote.

The Space Force did not immediately provide a response when reached Monday. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Biden’s amendments cleaned up outdated language in the old executive orders, such as switching “distinguished himself” to “distinguished themselves” and “his jurisdiction,” in reference to the service secretary, to the “jurisdiction of the Navy.”

The executive orders establishing the awards were written before women took a more significant role in the military, including filling combat roles. All military roles were finally opened to women in 2016, more than seven decades after World War II.

“They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in 2015 when the decision about female troops was announced. “They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers, and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

That integration is still ongoing as women fill out combat roles across the services and strive to be part of the most elite ranks such as the SEALs, where at least three female sailors are attempting to complete the grueling training.

— Travis Tritten can be reached at travis.tritten@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Tritten. 

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