This medal is awarded to any officer or enlisted man of the Armed Forces of the United States who shall have distinguished himself in actual combat in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918." The decoration may also be given for an act performed prior to November 11, 1918, when the individual has been recommended for, but has not received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, or Distinguished Service Medal.
The Distinguished Flying Cross, authorized by an Act of Congress of July 2, 1926 (amended by Executive Order 7786 on January 8, 1938), was awarded first to Captain Charles A. Lindbergh, of the U.S. Army Corps Reserve, for his solo flight of 3600 miles across the Atlantic in 1927, a feat which electrified the world and made "Lindy" one of America's most popular heroes. The first D.F.C. to be awarded to a Navy man was to Commander Richard E. Byrd, of the U.S. Navy Air Corps, on May 9, 1926, for his exciting flight to and from the North Pole. Both these famous aviators also received the Medal of Honor with the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Aviatrix Amelia Earhart also received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Hers was the only such award, as an executive order on March 1, 1927, ruled that D.F.C. should not be conferred on civilians.
During wartime, members of the Armed Forces of friendly foreign nations serving with the United States are eligible for the D.F.C. It is also given to those who display heroism while working as instructors or students at flying schools.
The Distinguished Flying Cross was designed by Elizabeth Will and Arthur E. DuBois. It is a bronze cross pattee, with rays between the arms of the cross. On the obverse is a propeller of four blades, with one blade in each arm of the cross and in the re-entrant angles of the cross are rays which form a square. The cross is suspended by a recatgular-shaped bar and centered on this is a plain shield. The reverse is blank and suitable for engraving the recipients name and rank.
The ribbon has a narrow red center stripe, flanked on either side by a thin white stripe, a wide stripe of dark blue, a narrow white stripe and narrow dark blue at the edge of the ribbon.
Subsequent awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross are indicated by oak-leaf clusters for Army and Air Force personnel and by additional award stars for members of the Naval services.
An example of the gallantry for which the Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded took place on the morning of August 31, 1969 in Vietnam. Captain Francis J. Cuddy, USMC a Helicopter pilot, was assigned the mission of assisting in the extraction of an Army Special Forces reconnaissance team heavily engaged in combat with a large North Vietnamese Army deep in an mountainous area under the enemy's complete control. Captain Cuddy, undaunted by the heavy volume of hostile fire directed at his aircraft, directed other helicopters into the area, moved his aircraft into treetop level and delivered repeated rocket and strafing runs on the enemy positions. As a result of his devastating attacks, the hostile fire was suppressed and sufficiently to enable the transport helicopters to safely extract the reconnaissance team. The citation for his award went on the say ". . .Captain Cuddy's courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of personal danger were instrumental in accomplishing this hazardous mission and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service." Captain Cuddy was also awarded the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, Commendation Medal with Combat "V," the Purple Heart and forty eight Air Medals During his tour of duty in Vietnam. Authorized Device: Oak leaf Cluster