Today is the anniversary of the establishment of the Air Medal. Many of Frisky’s P-47 pilots earned the Air Medal for their combat missions in 1944-1945. The award itself was established on 11 May 1942, for “any person who, while serving in any capacity in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard of the United States subsequent to Sept. 8, 1939, distinguishes, or has distinguished, himself by meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight.” The Air Medal was amended on Sept. 11, 1942 to read “in any capacity in or with the Army”.
It is awarded under the following criteria: “It is awarded to U.S. military and civilian personnel for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight and foreign military personnel in actual combat in support of operations. Required achievement is less than that required for the Distinguished Flying Cross, but must be accomplished with distinction above and beyond that expected of professional airmen.”
As it is a combat decoration, the Air Medal “…is not awarded for peace time sustained operational activities and flights.”
Certainly the fighter pilots in the 371st Fighter Group saw a lot of combat action in the European Theater of Operations, and thus earned many deserved Air Medals, with many receiving it multiple times in the form of Air Medal oak leaf clusters made to the original award.
Air Medal Fact Sheet, at: http://www.afpc.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=7775