Navy Cross

From Academic Kids

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The Navy Cross is the second highest medal that can be awarded by the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. It was established by Act of Congress (Public Law 253, 65th Congress) and approved on February 4, 1919. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross (Air Force).


Effective Dates

The Navy Cross has been in effect since April 6, 1917.


The Navy Cross may be awarded to any person who, while serving with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguishes himself in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying an award of the Medal of Honor. The action must take place under one of three circumstances: while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party. To earn a Navy Cross the act to be commended must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and must be performed in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility. An accumulation of minor acts of heroism does not justify an award of the Navy Cross.

Order of Precedence

The Navy Cross is worn after the Medal of Honor and before all other decorations.


Additional awards of the Navy Cross are denoted by gold stars five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.


The Navy Cross was designed by James Earl Fraser (1876-1953).

First Recipient

The first actual recipient of the Navy Cross is unknown because initial awards were made from a lengthy list published after the First World War.

Description and Symbolism

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The Navy Cross is a modified cross patée one and a half inches wide (the ends of its arms are rounded whereas a conventional cross patée has arms that are straight on the end). There are four laurel leaves with berries in each of the re-entrant arms of the cross. In the center of the cross a sailing vessel is depicted on waves, sailing to the viewer's left. The vessel is a symbolic caravel of the type used between 1480 and 1500. Fraser selected the caravel because it was a symbol often used by the Naval Academy and because it represented both naval service and the tradition of the sea. The laurel leaves with berries refer to achievement.


In the center of a bronze cross patée one and a half inches wide, crossed anchors from the pre-1850 period, with cables attached. The letters USN appear amid the anchors.


The ribbon is navy blue with a center stripe of white. the blue alludes to Navy service and the white represents the purity of selflessness.

Notable Recipients

See also


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