This Navy and Marine Corps decoration was introduced on 17th February 1969 by the Secretary of the Navy and was made retroactive untill March 1961. In 1999 it was decided that the decoration was to be retroactive from the date of 6th December 1941.
The decoration is for active participation in ground or surface combat for military with the grade of Colonel or lower. The individual had to be engaged in combat during specifically listed military operations under enemy fire. The performance under enemy fire had to be satisfactory.
The decoration is a ribbon only award in gold with thin centered red, white and blue stripes, a dark blue border stripe on the left and a red one on the right. It is to be worn on the right breast when the full-sized medals are worn on the left breast. Additional awards can only be awarded for sepreate conflicts or wars and are shown with a five-sixteenth inch gold star.