2016 47c Air Force Cross
At the outset of World War I, the only U.S. military award, aside from the Medal of Honor, was the Certificate of Merit Medal. Established in 1905, this medal had replaced older honors recognizing distinguished service in times of both war and peace. But short of the Medal of Honor, there was no distinct award for valor in the face of death during combat.
General John J. Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, felt the U.S. should have an honor for gallantry and risk-of-life in addition – and secondary to – the Medal of Honor. He proposed the idea to President Woodrow Wilson, and the Distinguished Service Cross was authorized in 1918. It was then awarded retroactively to 1917, and several even-older merit medals were upgraded.
Originally, the service cross was established to cover all people who acted on behalf of the U.S. military with extraordinary heroism in a combat situation. But over time, the other military branches created their own service cross medals. Today, second only to the Medal of Honor, there are now four service cross medals for the separate U.S. military branches: the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross, and the Coast Guard Cross.
Issued: May 30, 2016
First Day City: New York, NY
Type of Stamp: First Class Mail
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Method: Offset, Microprint
Quantity Printed: 20,400,000
The Air Force Cross issue recognizes the second-highest Air Force award for military valor in combat. Richard Frasier's photograph of the medal was used by art director Greg Breeding to design the stamp.