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Prisoner of War (POW) Medal
Service: ALL and Civilians   Authorization: DOD 1348-33-M
Instituted: 1985      

Prisoner of
War (POW) Medal
  1. Authorized by Section 1128, title 10, U.S.C.
  2. Authorized for any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Armed Forces, was taken prisoner and held captive after April 5, 1917.
  3. Character of Service. Any person convicted by a U.S. military tribunal of misconduct or a criminal charge or whose discharge is less than honorable based on actions while a POW is ineligible for the medal. The POWs whose conduct was not in accord with the Code of Conduct and whose actions are documented by U.S. military records, are ineligible for the medal. Resolution of questionable cases shall be the responsibility of the Secretaries concerned.
  1. Manner of Wearing. Section 1128 of title 10, U. S.C., “Prisoner-of-war medal: issue,” establishing the POW Medal specifies that it shall be displayed immediately following decorations awarded for individual heroism, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service, and before any other service medal, campaign medal, or service ribbon authorized to be displayed. To ensure consistency among the Services, the POW Medal shall be placed ahead of the Good Conduct Medal in the order of precedence.
    1. Public Law 99-145, Department of Defense Authorization Act, dated 8 November 1985, amended Chapter 57 of Title 10, USC, 1128, to require under certain circumstances the issuance of a Prisoner of War Medal to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, was taken prisoner and held captive after 5 April 1917.
    2. The symbolism of the design is as follows: The eagle, a symbol of the United States and the American spirit, though surrounded by barbed wire and bayonet points, stands with pride and dignity, continually on the alert for the opportunity to seize hold of beloved freedom, thus symbolizing the hope that upholds the spirit of the prisoner of war. The ribbon colors red, white, and blue are symbolic of our National colors while determination to survive in or to escape from a hostile environment.

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