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World War II
Awards of the Silver Star

Conspicuous Gallantry in Action

At the beginning of World War II the newly-established (1932) Silver Star Medal was still exclusively a U.S. Army (War Department) award. For this reason, most of the earliest WWII awards to members of ALL branches of service were presented by the Army. For their heroism on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, 49 members of the Army and Army Air Force received the first Silver Stars of the war.

When General Douglas MacArthur presented Silver Stars to Marine Private Alexander Katchuck and Private First Class Charles Greer for their actions in the Philippine Islands on December 29, 1941, the two men became the FIRST Marines of World War II to receive the Silver Star. Army awards of the Silver Star were awarded to additional Marines and U.S. Naval personnel early in 1942, the majority for gallantry in the Philippine Islands prior to the fall of Corregidor. The fact that the Silver Star was solely an Army award explains why, though members of the Navy earned 15 Medals of Honor at Pearl Harbor, none were awarded the Silver Star. (Rather, most USN/USMC Pearl Harbor heroes received the Navy Marine Corps Medal.

On August 7, 1942, nearly a year after World War II began, by Act of Congress in Public Law 702, (77th Congress) award of the Silver Star was expanded to the Navy Department. The act providing for retroactive awards by the Navy to sailors and Marines for actions on or after December 7, 1941. Ultimately, three members of the Navy and one Marine were presented the Navy Silver Star for their actions at Pearl Harbor.

Due to the SHEER NUMBER of WWII awards of the Silver Star (nearly 100,000 Army awards alone, we ask for your patience as we build this area of the database. Below are some of the pages currently available on the WWII awards. 



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