Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)
|Distinguished Flying Cross in United States|
|Awarded by United States Military|
|Type||Military medal (Decoration)|
|Awarded for||"Heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight"|
|Established||2 July 1926|
|Next (higher)||Legion of Merit|
|Next (lower)||Army – Soldier's Medal
Navy & Marine Corps – Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Air Force – Airman's Medal
Coast Guard – Coast Guard Medal
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918."
- 1 History
- 2 World War II
- 3 Vietnam
- 4 Criteria
- 5 Appearance
- 6 DFC National Memorial Act
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 Notable recipients of the DFC
- 9 Non-recipients
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The first award of the Distinguished Flying Cross was made by President Calvin Coolidge on May 2, 1927, to ten aviators of the Air Corps who had participated in the U.S. Army Pan American Flight, which took place from December 21, 1926 to May 2, 1927. Two of the airmen died in a mid-air collision trying to land at Buenos Aires on February 26, 1927, and received their awards posthumously. Since the award had only been authorized by Congress the previous year, no medals had yet been struck, and the Pan American airmen initially received only certificates. Among the ten airmen were Major Herbert A. Dargue, Captains Ira C. Eaker and Muir S. Fairchild, and 1st Lt. Ennis C. Whitehead.
Charles Lindbergh received the first presentation of the medal little more than a month later, from Coolidge during the Washington, D.C. homecoming reception on June 11, 1927, from his trans-Atlantic flight. The medal had hurriedly been struck and readied just for that occasion. Interestingly, the 1927 War Department General Order (G.O. 8), authorizing Lindbergh's DFC states that it was awarded by the President, while the General Order (G.O. 6) for the Pan American Flyers' DFC citation notes that the War Department awarded it "by direction of the President."
The first Distinguished Flying Cross to be awarded to a Naval Aviator was received by then-Commander Richard E. Byrd, for his trans-Atlantic flight from June 29 to July 1, 1927 from New York City to the coast of France. Byrd, along with pilot Floyd Bennett, received the Medal of Honor for their historic flight to the North Pole on May 9, 1926 but they did not receive the DFC for that flight as the DFC had not yet been created.
Numerous military recipients of the medal would later earn greater fame in other occupations—several astronauts, actors, and politicians (including former President George H. W. Bush) are Distinguished Flying Cross holders.
DFC awards could be retroactive to cover notable achievements back until the beginning of World War I. On February 23, 1929, Congress passed special legislation to allow the award of the DFC to the Wright brothers for their December 17, 1903 flight. Other civilians who have received the award include Wiley Post, Jacqueline Cochran, Roscoe Turner, Amelia Earhart, Glenn H. Curtiss and Eugene Ely. Eventually, it was limited to military personnel by an Executive Order.
Amelia Earhart became the first woman to receive the DFC on July 29, 1932 when it was presented to her by Vice President Charles Curtis in Los Angeles. Earhart received the decoration for her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean earlier that year.
World War II
During World War II the medal's award criteria varied widely depending on the theater of operations, aerial combat, and the missions accomplished. In the Pacific oftentimes commissioned officers were awarded the DFC, while enlisted men were given the Air Medal. In Europe some bomber crews, often the sole survivors of their wing or group, received it for completing a tour of duty of twenty-five sorties; elsewhere different criteria were used.
During wartime, members of the Armed Forces of friendly foreign nations serving with the United States are eligible for the Distinguished Flying Cross. It is also given to those who display heroism while working as instructors or students at flying schools.
During the Vietnam War high ranking Army officers often received the DFC for directing combat operations from aircraft.
The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized by Section 12 of the Air Corps Act enacted by the United States Congress on July 2, 1926, as amended by Executive Order 7786 on January 8, 1938. This act provided for award “to any person, while serving in any capacity with the Air Corps of the Army of the United States, including the National Guard and the Organized Reserves, or with the United States Navy, since the 6th day of April 1917, has distinguished, or who, after the approval of this Act, distinguishes himself, or herself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”
The Distinguished Flying Cross was designed by Elizabeth Will and Arthur E. DuBois. The medal is a bronze cross pattee, on whose obverse is superimposed a four-bladed propeller, 1 11/16 inches in width. Five rays extend from the reentrant angles, forming a one-inch square. The reverse is blank; it is suitable for engraving the recipient's name and rank. The cross is suspended from a rectangular bar.
The suspension and service ribbon of the medal is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 9/64 inch White 67101; 11/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 3/64 inch White 67101; center stripe 3/32 inch Old Glory Red 67156; 3/64 inch White 67101; 11/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 9/64 inch White 67101; 3/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118.
Additional awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross are shown with bronze or silver Oak Leaf Clusters for the Army and Air Force, and by gold or silver 5/16 Inch Stars for the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard.
The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps may authorize the "V" device for wear to denote valor in combat; Navy and Marine Corps, Combat "V". The "V" device is not authorized for wear by the Army. In the Army, the Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded for single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The other services can also award the medal for "extraordinary achievement".
DFC National Memorial Act
In July 2014, the United States Senate passed the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act. The act was sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer, and seeks to designate the Distinguished Flying Cross memorial at March Field Air Museum adjacent to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California as a national memorial to recognize members of United States Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves by heroism in aerial flight.  The act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 25, 2014. 
In popular culture
In the movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian the character of Amelia Earhart (played by Amy Adams) mentions that she received "the Flying Cross". The real life Amelia Earhart did, in fact, receive the Distinguished Flying Cross and was the first woman and civilian to do so.
Notable recipients of the DFC
Note - the rank indicated is the highest held by the individual.
Medal of Honor recipients
- General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, USA - Chief of Staff of the United States Army (1930-1935) and commander of United Nations forces in Korea (1950-1951).
- General Jimmy Doolittle, USAF - Leader of the Doolittle Raid.
- General Leon W. Johnson, USAF - Commander of the Continental Air Command.
- General Christian F. Schilt, USMC - Director of Marine Corps Aviation.
- Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, USN - President of the United States Naval War College and vice presidential candidate.
- Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, USN - Organized and led first flights over the north and south poles.
- Major General Patrick Henry Brady, USA - Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
- Brigadier General Frederick Walker Castle, USAAF - Posthumous Medal of Honor recipient.
- Brigadier General Joe Foss, ANG - Second highest scoring Marine Corps ace of World War II and Governor of South Dakota.
- Colonel Archie Van Winkle, USMC - World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veteran.
- Colonel George Day, USAF - POW during the Vietnam War.
- Colonel Merlyn Hans Dethlefsen, USAF - Vietnam War F-105 pilot.
- Colonel Bernard F. Fisher, USAF - Vietnam War A-1 Skyraider pilot.
- Colonel James P. Fleming, USAF - Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
- Colonel Joe M. Jackson, USAF - Vietnam War veteran.
- Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, USAACR - First person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
- Colonel John Lucian Smith, USMC - Leader of the Cactus Air Force on Guadacanal.
- Colonel Leo K. Thorsness, USAF - Vietnam War veteran.
- Captain Michael J. Estocin, USN - Missing in action in the Vietnam War.
- Captain David McCampbell, USN - Top US Navy ace of World War II.
- Lieutenant Colonel George A. Davis, USAF - High scoring Korean War ace.
- Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Novosel, USAFR - Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
- Lieutenant Colonel Gerald O. Young, USAF - Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
- Lieutenant Colonel Jay Zeamer, Jr., USAAF - Last surviving Army Air Forces Medal of Honor recipient.
- Major Richard Bong, USAAF - Highest scoring American ace of World War II.
- Major Horace S. Carswell, Jr., USAAF - World War II bomber pilot.
- Major George Andrew Davis, Jr., USAF - Ace in both World War II and the Korean War. Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars and four DFCs.
- Major Charles J. Loring, Jr., USAF - World War II POW and Korean War F-80 Shooting Star pilot.
- Major Thomas McGuire, USAAF - High scoring ace in World War II.
- Major Stephen W. Pless, USMC - Only Marine aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.
- Major Louis J. Sebille, USAF - Korean War F-51 Mustang pilot and recipient of 2 DFCs.
- Lieutenant Commander Edward "Butch" O'Hare, USN - Shot down 3 Japanese bombers and damaged two others on a single flight. Recipient of the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross and 2 DFCs.
- Captain John S. Walmsley, Jr., USAF - Korean War B-26 pilot.
- Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks, USAF - Vietnam War O-1 pilot.
- First Lieutenant Raymond L. Knight, USAAF - World War II P-47 pilot.
- First Lieutenant Donald D. Pucket, USAAF - Died during Operation Tidal Wave.*
- Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford, USAF - Flew to the Moon on Apollo 10, commander of the Apollo-Soyuz mission. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Major General Joe Engle, USAF - X-15 and Space Shuttle pilot.
- Rear Admiral Alan Shepard, USN - One of the original seven American astronauts, first American in space in Freedom 7 and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Brigadier General Michael Collins, USAF - Command module pilot for Apollo 11 mission to the Moon and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Brigadier General James McDivitt, USAF - Commander of Gemini 4 and Apollo 9.
- Colonel Buzz Aldrin, USAF - Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 11, second man to walk on the Moon, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Colonel Frank Borman, USAF - Commander of Apollo 8 and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Colonel Eileen Collins, USAF - First woman to command two space shuttle missions.
- Colonel Gordon Cooper, USAF - One of the original seven American astronauts, pilot of Faith 7 and commander of Gemini 5.
- Colonel John Glenn, USMC - One of the original seven American astronauts, first American to orbit the earth in Friendship 7, United States Senator, recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Colonel David Scott, USAF - Flew on Gemini 8, Apollo 9 and Apollo 15.
- Captain Eugene Cernan, USN - Pilot of Gemini 9A, lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 and commander of Apollo 17.
- Captain Pete Conrad, USN - Commander of Apollo 12 and Skylab 2 and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Captain Robert Crippen, USN - Pilot on first space shuttle mission and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Captain Jim Lovell, USN - Astronaut on two trips to the Moon, recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Captain Wally Schirra, USN - One of the original seven American astronauts flew on Sigma 7, Gemini 6A and as commander of Apollo 7.
- Captain John Young, USN - Flew on Apollo 10 and Apollo 16, commander of the first space shuttle mission and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Lieutenant Colonel Gus Grissom, USAF - One of the original seven American astronauts, second American in space on Liberty Bell 7 and recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
- Commander Scott Carpenter, USN - One of the original seven American astronauts, flew on Aurora 7, and aquanaut with SEALAB project.
- Major Deke Slayton, USAF - One of the original seven American astronauts, NASA chief astronaut and docking module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz mission.
Note - Although astronaut Neil Armstrong's achievements as an aviator and an astronaut more than exceeded the requirements for the DFC, he was ineligible for the DFC as he was a civilian for his entire career with NASA.
- Lieutenant George H.W. Bush, USNR - President of the United States.
- Major General Patrick J. Hurley, USAR - Secretary of War.
- Rear Admiral Jeremiah Denton, USN - Prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and United States Senator.
- Colonel Bruce Sundlun, USAFR - Business executive and Governor of Rhode Island.
- Colonel Lloyd Bentsen, USAFR - United States Senator, Secretary of the Treasury and vice presidential candidate.
- Colonel Alexander Butterfield, USAF - Figure in the Watergate Scandal.
- Captain John S. McCain, III, USN - United States Senator and presidential candidate.
- Captain Jim Wright, USAAF - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
- Captain Bruce Alger, USAAF - Controversial Republican Congressman from Texas.
- Captain William Hathaway, USAAF - Prisoner of war during World War II and United States Senator.
- Captain Joseph McCarthy, USMC - Infamous United States Senator.
- First Lieutenant George McGovern, USAAF - United States Senator, presidential candidate and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- First Lieutenant Ted Stevens, USAAF - United States Senator.
- First Lieutenant John Ehrlichman, USAAF - Aide to President Richard Nixon and key figure in the Watergate scandal.
- Glenn Curtiss - Aircraft designer.
- Amelia Earhart - Legendary aviatrix. First woman and first civilian to receive the DFC.
- Harold Gatty - Completed record breaking around the world flight.
- George Otto Noville - Flew on trans-Atlantic flight with Richard E. Byrd.
- Wiley Post - Completed record breaking around the world flight.
- Roscoe Turner - Flamboyant air racing champion.
- Orville Wright - Aviation pioneer.
- Wilbur Wright - Aviation pioneer.
- Wing Commander James Blackburn DSO, DFC, RAF - Distinguished British pilot during World War II.
- Wing Commader W.H. Burbury, DFC, AFC, RAF - RAF Distinguished British pilot during World War II.
- Squadron Leader Peter Cannam (70114) RAF - "as Flight Commander 241 Squadron displayed fortitude & courage whilst engaged in Fighter Bomber Operations in support of the 5th Army, during the drive on Bologna his flight inflicted great damage and casualties on the enemy thus reducing the number of casualties suffered by the American Army."
- Lieutenant Colonel Dieudonné Costes, French Army - Completed around the world flight.
- Lieutenant Commander Joseph Le Brix, French Navy - Completed around the world flight.
- Major James Fitzmaurice, Irish Free State Air Force - Flew on first non-stop westward crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Major Hsi-Chon Hua, Chinese Air Force - Awarded DFC for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on 3 August 1959, while serving as and aircraft commander in the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Light.
- Captain Hermann Köhl, German Army - Flew on first non-stop westward crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Baron Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld, German aristocrat - Flew on first non-stop westward crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
United States Air Force and Army Air Forces
- General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold, USAF - Commander of the US Army Air Forces during World War II.
- General George S. Brown, USAF - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- General Ira C. Eaker, USAF - Commander of the 8th Air Force during World War II.
- General Daniel James, Jr., USAF - First African-American US Air Force four star general.
- General David C. Jones, USAF - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- General George C. Kenney, USAF - First commander of Strategic Air Command.
- General Curtis Lemay, USAF - Air Force Chief of Staff and vice presidential candidate.
- General Richard B. Myers, USAF - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- General Joseph W. Ralston, USAF - Supreme Allied Commander for NATO.
- General Carl Spaatz, USAF - First Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.
- General Nathan F. Twining, USAF - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Lieutenant General Frank Maxwell Andrews, USAAF - Died in accident in 1943.
- Lieutenant General Royal N. Baker, USAF - Flew combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
- Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton, USAF - Commander of the Ninth Air Force during World War II.
- Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault, USAF - Commander of the Flying Tigers.
- Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., USAF - First African-American US Air Force general.
- Lieutenant General George E. Stratemeyer, USAF - Commander of Far East Air Forces during the Korean War.
- Major General Orvil A. Anderson, USAF - Participant in altitude record setting Air Corps Stratospheric Balloon Flights in Explorer I and Explorer II in 1934 and 1935.
- Major General Uzal Girard Ent, USAAF - Leader of the Ploesti Raid.
- Major General Robert Olds, USAAF - Father of ace Robin Olds.
- Major General Robert A. Rushworth, USAF - X-15 pilot.
- Major General James Stewart, USAFR - World War II B-24 pilot and Group Operations Officer. Academy Award winning actor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Major General Mele "Mel" Vojvodich, USAF - Pilot for the CIA in Vietnam.
- Brigadier General Gerald Goodfellow, USAF - B1-Lancer Offensive Systems Officer, Mackay Trophy recipient, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for action during Operation Allied Force.
- Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF - Combat pilot in World War II and Vietnam War and recipient of the Air Force Cross and six DFCs.
- Brigadier General Richard Stephen Ritchie, USAF - Only US Air Force ace of the Vietnam War with 5 kills.
- Brigadier General Elliott Roosevelt, USAAF - Son of President Franklin Roosevelt.
- Brigadier General Dale E. Stovall, USAF - Vietnam War CSAR pilot who rescued Roger Locher, deepest rescue inside North Vietnam.
- Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, USAF - Pilot of the Enola Gay.
- Brigadier General Chuck Yeager, USAF - Test pilot and first human to break the sound barrier. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Silver Medal.
- Colonel Bernt Balchen, USAF - Legendary pilot of first plane to fly over the South Pole.
- Colonel Jacqueline Cochran, USAFR - Multiple record setting aviatrix, first woman to break the sound barrier and commander of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II.
- Colonel Gabby Gabreski, USAF - Highest scoring American ace in the European Theater with 34 kills. Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and 13 DFCs.
- Colonel Ashley Chadbourne McKinley, USAF - Photographer on first flight over the South Pole.
- Colonel Dick Rutan, USAF - Piloted first unrefueled around the world flight. Recipient of the Silver Star and 5 DFCs.
- Colonel Robert E. Thacker, USAF - Pilot of record breaking flight from Honolulu to New York and recipient of two Silver Stars and three DFCs.
- Lieutenant Colonel Lee Archer, USAF - First African-American fighter ace.
- Lieutenant Colonel Kim Campbell, USAF - Iraq War A-10 pilot.
- Lieutenant Colonel Robert S. Johnson, USAFR - Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross with 28 kills.
- Lieutenant Colonel Arthur W. Murray, USAF - Early jet test pilot.
- Lieutenant Colonel Harold E. Spangler, USAF - Group Squadron Lead pilot of B17s in WWII, 301st Bomb Group, and 419th Bomb Squadron, stationed in Italy.
- Lieutenant Colonel Albert William Stevens, USAAF - Participant in both the Explorer I and Explorer II stratospheric balloon flights.
- Lieutenant Colonel Terry C. Strickland, USAF - Recipient of 3 DFCs during Vietnam War.
- Lieutenant Colonel Boyd Wagner, USAAC - First Army Air Corps ace of World War II and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross.
- Lieutenant Colonel James A. Yeager, USAF - Recipient of 10 DFCs and two Silver Stars.
- Major Clark Gable, USAAF - Star of Gone with the Wind who flew on five bombing missions during World War II.
- Major Ray Shuey Wetmore, USAAF - High scoring ace during World War II.
- Captain Kenneth H. Dahlberg, USAAF - Distinguished Service Cross recipient and 2 DFCs.
- Captain Hawthorne C. Gray, USAAC - Died during altitude record breaking balloon ascent.
- Captain Matthew G. Hoenes, USAAF - Distinguished A-26 pilot in the "Blackbirds" squadron, attacked enemy targets under heavy fire.
- Captain Ken Kavanaugh, USAAF - Professional football player.
- Captain Thomas Mantell, USAF - Died in pursuit of a UFO.
- Captain Francis Gary Powers, USAF - Captured by Soviets when his U-2 spy plane was shot down.
- Captain Gene Roddenberry, USAAF - Creator of the Star Trek television series and franchise.
- Captain Dan Rowan, USAAF - P-40 Warhawk pilot and star of Laugh In.
- Captain Cal Worthington, USAAF - Legendary car salesman.
- Captain Louis Zamperini, USAAF - POW during World War II. Inspiration for the movie Unbroken.
- Captain Frank Crockett Byers, Jr., USAAF - Bombardier during World War II.
- First Lieutenant John Ehrlichman, USAAF - B-17 navigator, presidential aide and figure in the Watergate scandal.
- First Lieutenant Jack Valente, USAAF - Longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
- Chief Master Sergeant Duane D. Hackney, USAF - Recipient of the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, four DFCs, Airman's Medal and two Purple Hearts.
- Technical Sergeant Ben Kuroki, USAAF - Japanese-American veteran of 58 combat missions.
- Technical Sergeant Robert D. Singer, USAAF - 8th Air Force, 379th 95G Hvy Bommber (B17) - Flew 30 combat missions in World War II over Nazi Germany and Poland and received the DFC, Presidential Unit Citation and Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
- Staff Sergeant Joseph C. Chebetar, USAAF - Waist gunner on the B-17 named "Blond Bomber" who saved his plane's captain's life after the craft had been hit and assisted his exit from the aircraft before it crashed. Also awarded Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters. Flew on 32 missions.
- Corporal Sabu Dastagir, USAAF - Indian-American actor who served as a B-24 tail gunner during World War II.
United States Marine Corps
- General Earl E. Anderson, USMC - Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.
- General Keith B. McCutcheon, USMC
- Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen, USMC - First African-American Marine Corps general.
- Lieutenant General William G. Thrash, USMC
- Major General Marion Eugene Carl, USMC - First Marine Corps ace. Recipient of two Navy Crosses and five DFCs.
- Lieutenant Colonel John F. Bolt, USMC - Only Marine jet fighter ace.
- Captain Charles S. Whitehouse, USMC - Diplomat, CIA officer and recipient of seven DFCs.
- Captain Cecil A. Alexander, Jr., USMC - Modern architect. Recipient of two DFCs during World War II.
- Technical Sergeant Duane L. Rhodes, USMC - Recipient of two DFCs during the Battle of Midway.
- Admiral Stan Arthur, USN - Vice Chief of Naval Operations and recipient of 11 DFCs.
- Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, USN - Chief of Naval Operations.
- Admiral James L. Holloway III, USN - Chief of Naval Operations.
- Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Admiral Huntington Hardisty, USN - Commander in Chief of United States Pacific Command.
- Vice Admiral Walter E. Carter Jr., USN - President of the United States Naval War College and Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.
- Vice Admiral John T. Hayward, USN - President of the United States Naval War College.
- Vice Admiral Diego E. Hernández, USN - Vice Commander of NORAD.
- Vice Admiral Edward H. Martin, USN - POW for over five years.
- Rear Admiral Bryan W. Compton , Jr., USN - Recipient of the Navy Cross and six DFCs.
- Rear Admiral Burton Hale Shepherd, USN - Recipient of the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars and six DFCs.
- Lieutenant Stephen Coonts, USN - Author.
- Lieutenant Harold June, USN - Co-pilot of first flight over the South Pole.
- Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., USN - Brother of President John F. Kennedy. Posthumous recipient of the Navy Cross.
- Ensign Jesse L. Brown, USN - First African-American naval aviator. Died during the Korean War.
- Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Clifford Ernest Hollenbeck, USN - Photographer on reconnaissance plane in Vietnam.
United States Coast Guard
- Captain Richard L. Burke, USCG - Distinguished rescue pilot and recipient of two DFCs. 
- Lieutenant John A. Pritchard, Jr., USCG - Died attempting to rescue stranded aviators in Greenland in November 1942.
- Lieutenant Jack C. Rittichier, USCG - Recipient of the Silver Star and two DFCs.
- Radioman First Class Benjamin A. Bottoms, USCG - Radio operator in an aircraft rescuing stranded aviators in Greenland in November 1942.
- Petty Officer 2nd Class Randy Haba, USCG - Rescue swimmer.
- Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Todd, USCG - Rescue swimmer.
United States Army
- General Alexander Haig, USA - NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe and Secretary of State.
- General Wayne A. Downing, USA - Commander of United States Special Operations Command.
- General Frederick M. Franks, Jr., USA - Commander of VII Corps during Operation Desert Storm.
- General John Galvin, USA - NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.
- General Frederick Kroesen, USA - Combat veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and commander of 7th United States Army.
- General Edward C. Meyer, USA - Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
- General Dennis J. Reimer, USA - Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
- General Roscoe Robinson, Jr., USA - First African-American US Army four star general.
- General Bernard W. Rogers, USA - Chief of Staff of the United States Army and Supreme Allied Commander for NATO.
- General Norman Schwarzkopf, USA - Commander of Operation Desert Storm and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- General Donn A. Starry, USA - Commander of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command.
- General Sam S. Walker, USA - Son of General Walton Walker and Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute.
- General Walton Walker, USA - Commander of the 8th Army in Korea and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars and two DFCs.
- General Melvin Zais, USA - Commander of the 101st Infantry Division in Vietnam.
- Lieutenant General David E. Grange, USA - Combat veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and commander of United States Army Pacific.
- Lieutenant General James F. Hollingsworth, USA - Combat veteran of World War II and Vietnam. Recipient of 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, 4 Distinguished Service Medals, 4 Silver Stars, 3 Legions of Merit, the Soldiers Medal and 3 DFCs.
- Major General George Patton IV, USA - Son of General George S. Patton.
- Colonel David Hackworth, USA - Highly decorated Army officer, commentator and author. Recipient of 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, 10 Silver Stars, 8 Bronze Star Medals and 8 Purple Hearts.
- Colonel Harold "Marsh" Ramey, US Army - Vietnam War helicopter master aviator. Recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, 29 air medals for Vietnam, Army Aviation Association Order of St. Michael Medal, nominated to the Army Aviation Hall of Fame. 
- Lieutenant Colonel Bo Gritz, USA - Highly decorated Special Forces officer in Vietnam.
- Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann, USA - Military advisor in Vietnam and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Lieutenant Colonel Dave Wallace, USA - 3 DFCs in Vietnam; Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives since 2015.
- Major Lauri Törni, USA - Veteran of the Finnish Army, Waffen SS during World War II and U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam.
- First Lieutenant Jesse D. Scott, Jr., USA - Vietnam veteran.
- First Lieutenant Roger D. Winslow, USA - Vietnam veteran.
- Chief Warrant Officer Richard McCoy, Jr., USA - Vietnam veteran and aircraft hijacker.
- Chief Warrant Officer William A. Manzanares Jr. - Highly decorated Vietnam veteran.
- Command Sergeant Major Silas L. Copeland - Sergeant Major of the Army.
Several highly distinguished military aviators never received the DFC. These include the following -
- Admiral John Thach, USN - Innovative aerial tactician.
- Admiral John Henry Towers, USN - Pacific Fleet Air Force commander during World War II.
- Rear Admiral Albert Cushing Read, USN - Commander of the NC-4 on the first crossing of the Atlantic by an aircraft.
- Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, USAAC - Military airpower advocate and pioneer.
- Colonel James Irwin, USAF - Lunar module pilot for Apollo 15.
- Captain Alan Bean, USN - Lunar module pilot for Apollo 12 and commander of Skylab 3.
- Captain Thomas J. Hudner, USN - Medal of Honor recipient.
- Lieutenant Colonel Pappy Boyington, USMC - Medal of Honor recipient and legendary combat pilot.
- Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, USAAS - Recipient of the Medal of Honor and seven Distinguished Service Crosses.
- Lieutenant (junior grade) Neil Armstrong, USN - First man to walk on the Moon.
- Machinist Floyd Bennett, USN - Medal of Honor recipient and pilot of first plane to fly over the North Pole.
- "Executive Order 4601". U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 26 September 2012. External link in
- "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33-V3" (PDF). US Department of Defense. 23 November 2010. pp. 17–18, 50. Retrieved 26 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Distinguished Flying Cross". The Institute of Heraldry: Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the ARMY. Retrieved 2013-12-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Mooney, Charles C. and Layman, Martha E. (1944). "Organization of Military Aeronautics, 1907-1935 (Congressional and War Department Action)" (PDF). Air Force Historical Study No. 25. AFHRA (USAF). Retrieved 14 Dec 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>, Appendix 5, p. 127.
- Awarded by Act of Congress March 1, 1933.
- Awarded by Act of Congress July 2, 1932.
- Awarded by Act of Congress July 11, 1932.
- Awarded by Act of Congress in 1949 and presented in 1952.
- Awarded by Act of Congress December 18, 1928.
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