While processing the Hays Family Papers, we learned that one of the Hays family members served in WWII and received the following medals. More information about the veteran will be provided as the collection is fully processed but for now, check out these medals!
116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team Insignia
“The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is the largest formation of the Idaho Army National Guard. It is headquartered at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho.” The 116th cavalry brigade also has “united located throughout Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Nevada.”
The 116th cavalry was established on March 4, 1920 in the “Idaho National Guard as the 1st Cavalry.”1
116th Cavalry Regimen Unit Crest
This distinctive unit insignia (DUI) unit crest is “a metal heraldic device worn by soldiers in the United States Army on uniforms.”2
Also known as the “Snake River Regiment” to honor its organization in the Snake River Valley in 1920, the 116th Cavalry Regiment’s original designation was 1st Cavalry, Idaho National Guard.3
U.S. Army Colonel Rank Eagle Insignia Pin
This insignia pin is given to Colonels in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. A Colonel is one of the most “senior field grade military officer” ranks in the military.Colonel United States The eagle is styled similarly to the eagle on the Great Seal of the United States. The bald eagle was established as the U.S. national bird and placed on the Great Seal in 1782.The American Bald Eagle, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Just like the Great Seal, the colonel insignia pin eagle is holding an olive branch and bundle of arrows in its talons, while facing left.4
Captains in the Navy and Coast Guard are equivalent in rank to Colonels in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Captains receive a collar, shoulder, and sleeve insignia, one of which is this same eagle insignia pin.
Bronze Star Medal
The next medal is the Bronze Star Medal which is a “decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.” This medal was “established by Executive Order 9419” on February, 1944.5
Distinguished Service Medal
The next medal is the Distinguished Service Medal, a “military decoration of the United States Army that is presented to a soldier who has distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility. The performance must be such as to merit recognition for service that is clearly exceptional. The exceptional performance of normal duty will not alone justify an award of this decoration.”6 It was first established on January 2, 1918.
Legion of Merit Medal
The next medal is the Legion of Merit medal, “a military award of the United States Armed Forces that is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. The decoration is issued to members of the eight uniformed services of the United States as well as to military and political figures of foreign governments.”7
“The Legion of Merit…is one of only two United States military decorations to be issued as a neck order (the other being the Medal of Honor), and the only United States military decoration that may be issued in degrees (much like an order of chivalry or certain Orders of Merit), although the degrees including a neck ribbon are only awarded to non-U.S. nationals.”7
Order of Leopold Medal
The Order of Leopold Medal is “one of the three current Belgian national honorary orders of knighthood). It is the oldest and highest order of Belgium and is named in honour of its founder; King Leopold I. It consists of a military, a maritime, and a civil division…The decoration was established on 11 July 1832 and is awarded by Royal order.”8
Order of Leopold II Medal
“The Order of Leopold II is an order of Belgium and is named in honor of King Leopold II. The decoration was established on 24 August 1900 by Leopold II as king of the Congo Free State and was in 1908, upon Congo being handed over to Belgium, incorporated into the Belgian awards system. The order is awarded for meritorious service to the sovereign of Belgium, and as a token of his personal goodwill. It can be awarded to both Belgians and foreigners, and is seen as diplomatic gift of merit.”9
As of June 2021, the Hays Family Papers collection is still under processing. Please contact Special Collections & Archives for more information.