The Airman's Medal is awarded to those service members or those of a friendly nation who, while serving in any capacity with the United States Air Force, distinguish themselves by heroic actions, usually at the voluntary risk of life, but not involving actual combat. The saving of a life or the success of the voluntary heroic act is not essential.
This medal was designed and sculpted by Thomas Hudson Jones of the Institute of Heraldry. On the obverse of the circular medal is the figure of the Greek god Hermes, son of Zeus, resting on one knee. He has just released from his open hands an American Bald Eagle, shown rising into flight. Within the raised rim of the medal, is the inscription Airman's Medal in raised letters. The reverse of the medal, has a raised outer edge and bears the inscription, For Valor above a space for the recipient's name which is within a stylized laurel wreath open at the top and tied at the bottom.
The Airman's Medal is unique in that its shape does not follow the octagonal shape of its counterparts, the Soldier's Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Coast Guard Medal. It had been established practice heretofore to design military decorations with a distinctive shape, so that they would not be confused at a distance with service or campaign medals, which are always circular in shape. The reason for this is because the design was originally approved for use as The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal.