Air Force Combat Action Medal

United States Air Force Combat Action Medal
Air Force Combat Action Medal.png
USAF Combat Action Medal
Awarded by United States Air Force
Type Individual award medal
Eligibility United States Air Force personnel in the grades of E-1 through O-6
Awarded for Actively engaging in ground or air combat with the enemy
Status Currently awarded
Established 15 March 2007
First awarded 12 June 2007
Next (higher) Air Force Achievement Medal
Equivalent Navy/USMC: Combat Action Ribbon
Next (lower) Presidential Unit Citation
Related Army Combat Action Badge
Air Force Combat Action ribbon.svg
Ribbon bar of the medal

The Air Force Combat Action Medal (AFCAM)[1] is a relatively new medal issued by the United States Air Force. It was first awarded on June 12, 2007 for actions from September 11, 2001 to a date to be determined and may be awarded posthumously.



For an airman to wear the AFCAM, a narrative explanation on an AF Form 3994 of the airman's involvement in combat activities must be submitted by a person with first-hand knowledge of the incident to the first O-6 (Colonel) in their operational chain of command. The application will be processed through the chain of command and eventually be approved or disapproved by the Commander of Air Force forces (COMAFFOR).[2]Combat conditions defined:

For the purposes of this award, the combat conditions are met when:

  • Individual(s) deliberately go outside the defended perimeter to conduct official duties - either ground or air, and
  • Come under enemy attack by lethal weapons while performing those duties, and
  • Are at risk of grave danger


  • Individual(s) are defending the base (on the defended perimeter), and
  • Come under fire and engage the enemy with direct and lethal fire, and
  • Are at risk of grave danger; also meet the intent of combat conditions for the award

Additionally, personnel in ground operations who actively engage the enemy with direct and lethal fire may qualify even if no direct fire is taken--as long as there was risk of grave danger and other criteria are met. Central to the integrity of this combat recognition is the adherence to these combat conditions prerequisites.

The AFCAM is the highest-level Air Force individual award to not earn points under the Weighted Airman Promotion System. It is worn directly after the Air Force Achievement Medal and before the Presidential Unit Citation.


In conjunction with the Army Institute of Heraldry, the medal was designed by Susan Gamble, a professional artist and Master Designer for the U.S. Mint. Her husband, Mike Gamble, is an Air Force colonel, and she was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "It was just a real pleasure to give this back to the Air Force that's been part of my life." She based the medal on an insignia painted on an aircraft piloted in World War I by General Billy Mitchell, generally known as the father of the Air Force.[3]

A laurel wreath surrounds an eagle emblem executed in a simple, linear Art Deco style. The eagle faces right, over the right talon clutching arrows, to reflect that this is a combat medal. The left talon clutches an olive branch. The ribbon's diagonal stripe at first could not be manufactured in the United States; but military medals cannot be manufactured outside the U.S. This design problem was resolved when a mill in Bally, Pennsylvania, Bally Ribbon Mills, bought a new loom specifically to weave the diagonal stripe. A Rhode Island firm, Ira Green Inc. in Providence, made the metal parts.[3]

The medal is the only award of the United States military to have a diagonally patterned ribbon, much like various British awards (such as the Distinguished Flying Cross).


The first recipients of the medal awarded on June 12, 2007, were:[3][4]

  • Maj. Steven A. Raspet of Fountain Valley, California
  • Capt. Allison K. Black of North Point, New York
  • Senior Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez of Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Master Sgt. Charlie Peterson of Detroit, Michigan
  • Master Sgt. Byron P. Allen of Birmingham, Alabama
  • Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Paxton of Abingdon, Virginia

The first posthumous recipient of the medal was A1C Elizabeth Jacobson.


  1. ^ Air Force Combat Action Medal
  2. ^ Air Force releases combat action medal criteria, Air Force Print News, 4/9/2007
  3. ^ a b c For Today's Air Force, a New Symbol of Valor by John Kelly, June 13, 2007. Washington Post, p. B03. Accessed June 13, 2007.
  4. ^ Airmen receive first AF Combat Action Medals, Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs, 6/12/2007


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