Silver and Gold Lifesaving Medals

Silver and Gold Lifesaving Medals

Gold Lifesaving Medal
Silver Lifesaving Medal
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Eligibility Requirements

The Gold Lifesaving Medal or the Silver Lifesaving Medal is awarded by the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, to any person who rescues or endeavors to rescue any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other perils of the water.  If such rescue is made at the risk of one’s own life, and evidences extreme and heroic daring, the medal is GOLD.  If such rescue or attempted rescue is not sufficiently distinguished to deserve the medal of gold, but evidences such extraordinary effort as to merit recognition, the medal shall be SILVER.  The rescue or attempted rescue must either take place in waters within the United States or subject to the jurisdiction thereof, or one or the other parties must be a citizen of the United States or from a vessel or aircraft owned or operated by citizens of the United States.  If, in the opinion of the Commandant, neither the Gold or Silver Lifesaving Medal is appropriate, then an appropriate Coast Guard Public Service Award will be considered. 

Military personnel serving on active duty normally should not be recommended for the Gold and Silver Lifesaving Medals.  However, personnel may be recommended for a Lifesaving Medal if the act of heroism was performed while the member was in a leave or liberty status.  Otherwise, a military award should be considered. 

Submission of Applications and Recommendations 

Applications or recommendations for the awarding of Lifesaving Medals, or requests for information pertaining to  these awards, should be addressed to Commander (a) of the Coast Guard District where the incident took place.  If the district is unknown, or if the incident took place outside any such district, applications and recommendations should be addressed to Commandant (G-WPM-1), U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, DC 20593-0001, who will forward the case to the appropriate district.   Applications and recommendations for the award of a Lifesaving Medal may be submitted by or on behalf of the person making or attempting a rescue. Such submissions, in letter form, must include the following:

(1)  Satisfactory evidence of the services performed, in the form of affidavits, made by eyewitnesses of good repute and standing testifying of their own knowledge.  The opinion of witnesses that person for whom an award is sought imperiled his or her own life or made extraordinary efforts is not sufficient.    The affidavits must set forth in detail all facts and occurrences showing clearly in what manner and to what extent life was risked or extraordinary efforts made so the Commandant may judge for himself as to the degree of merit involved. 

(2)  A statement identifying the precise locality of the rescue or attempted rescue, whether from waters within the jurisdiction thereof, or if the rescue or attempted rescue was outside such waters, whether one or the other of the parties involved was a citizen of the United States, or was from a vessel or aircraft owned or operated by citizens of the United States.  The date, time of day, nature of the weather, condition of the water, the names of all persons present when practicable, the names of all persons rendering assistance, and all pertinent circumstances and data, showing the precise nature and degree of risk involved, should also be stated.

(3) The affidavits required shall be made before an officer duly authorized to administer oaths.  The affidavits must also be accompanied by a certificate showing the affiants to be credible persons, certified by some United States officer, such as a judge or clerk of a United States Court, district attorney, collector of customs or a postmaster.  A commissioned officer of the Coast Guard may certify an individual’s credibility.  A credibility certificate is not required if the affiant is an officer or employee of the Federal Government or a member of the Armed Forces of the United States. 

(4)  Upon receipt, the Commandant or cognizant district commander shall refer the recommendation to an investigating officer.  The investigating officer shall conduct an informal investigation and, guided by the Administrative Investigations Manual, COMDTINST M5830 (series), develop such additional information and/or evidence necessary to either:

(a)  Terminate the investigation as containing insufficient justification to continue further (provide feedback to originator, with copy to Commandant (G-WPM-1)); or

(b) Complete the application for submission to the Commandant for final determination, adding a proposed citation.


Posthumous Awards

    Lifesaving Medals may be awarded posthumously.  

Time Limitations  

    There is no time limitation on the awarding of Lifesaving Medals. 

Award Elements 

    The Gold and Silver Lifesaving Medals include the following award elements: 

        (1)    Large medal (engraved) with citation and certificate 
        (2)    Lapel pin 
        (3)    Miniature medal 
        (4)    Ribbon Bar 

The large medal, citation, certificate and lapel pin are awarded to civilians earning the Gold or Silver Lifesaving Medal. Military and personnel earning the Gold or Silver Lifesaving Medal are issued all elements listed above.


Gold Bar  A gold bar is authorized to be worn on the suspension ribbon of the Gold Lifesaving Medal to denote each subsequent award earned.  

Silver Bar  A silver bar is authorized to be worn on the suspension ribbon of the Silver Lifesaving Medal to denote each subsequent award earned.  

Stars  A military recipient of a Gold or Silver Lifesaving Medal will receive a 5/16-inch gold star to be worn on the suspension ribbon and ribbon bar in lieu of a gold or silver bar.