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Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

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  • Lieutenant General Gerald W. Johnson (1919 - 2002)
    Gerald Walter Johnson (July 10, 1919 – September 9, 2002) was a lieutenant general in the United States Air Force and World War II flying ace. Enlisting in 1941, Johnson served as a fighter pilot in ...
  • Colonel & Commander Patrick D. Fleming (1918 - 1956)
    Patrick Dawson Fleming (January 17, 1918 – February 16, 1956) was a high-scoring World War II US Navy fighter ace, and later an accomplished US Air Force test pilot. Fleming racked up 19 aerial vict...
  • Lieutenant General Jay T. Robbins (1919 - 2001)
    Jay Thorpe Robbins (16 September 1919 – 3 March 2001) was a career officer in the United States Air Force who rose to the rank of lieutenant general. He was also a United States Army Air Forces fight...
  • Lieutenant General Royal N. Baker (1918 - 1976)
    Lieutenant General Royal Newman "King" Baker (November 27, 1918 – May 1, 1976) was a United States Air Force (USAF) flying ace during the Korean War. He accrued 13 victories in the war. Baker was on...
  • Brig. General Robin Olds (USAF) (1922 - 2007)
    His grandfather Henry Oldys changed the spelling of the family surname from "Olds" to "Oldys" (still pronounced "Olds") before Robin's father's birth, apparently in reference to an ancestral spelling. ...

The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (AFDSM) is a military decoration of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force and is presented to airmen and guardians to recognize distinguished and exceptionally meritorious service to the United States while serving in a duty or position of great responsibility. The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was created by an act of the United States Congress on July 6, 1960 and was first awarded in 1965. Prior to the creation of the Distinguished Service Medal in 1960, United States Air Force airmen were awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal.

The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal is equivalent to the Army's Army Distinguished Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps' Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal.

The interpretation of the phrase "great responsibility" means that this medal is generally awarded only to officers who hold at least the rank of major general. However, as is customary for most military decorations, the requirements for the Distinguished Service Medal are interpreted more liberally when awarded upon retirement. As a result, it is the typical decoration for a retiring brigadier general, and in recent years it has also been awarded to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force upon retirement. Cases of the award of this decoration to an individual who was not a general officer, or the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, are unusual. Two notable exceptions are astronauts Colonel Buzz Aldrin and Colonel David Scott (who flew on Gemini 8, Apollo 9, and Apollo 15) who was awarded the medal twice.

Recipients during the medal's first 6 years included General Emmett E. "Rosie" O'Donnell Jr. (a United States Air Force four-star general who served as Commander in Chief, Pacific Air Forces from 1959 to 1963). O'Donnell also led the first B-29 Superfortress attack upon Tokyo during World War II after the 1942 Doolittle Raid. Another early recipient of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was Major General Osmond J. Ritland, USAF, who received his medal on November 30, 1965, upon his retirement.

Additional awards are denoted with oak leaf clusters.

This award is comparable to the Department of the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service given to civilian employees of the Department of the Air Force.