Navy Cross This distinctive and honorable decoration was given for acts or execution of duty that was performed at great personal risk or in an extremely dangerous situation to member of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. February 4, 1919, the Navy Cross came into existence by way of an act of Congress (Public Law 253, 65th Congress), but was given for service the met the required criteria back to April 6, 1917. Although no prouder decorations exist today than the Navy Cross, at the time it was the third highest distinction one could receive. It could be awarded for both combat heroism and for other distinguished service. The front of the Navy Cross had crossed anchors and “USN”; the back had a sailing ship. Occasionally these were reversed, though I don’t know why. The crosses themselves were bronze, earlier versions were dull even greenish bronze, these had a very narrow white stripe centered on a blue ribbon. The blue represents Naval service, and the white alludes to the purity of selflessness. These were used from 1919-1928. From 1928-1941 the white stripe was widened to ¼. The planchet , which was one and a half inches wide, during this period was a darker bronze. From 1941-1942 there was a variation informally nicknamed “Black Widow.” The cross on this one was also bronze but, it looked much like a parkerized gunmetal finish. One note on the many of the "Black Widow" awards were distributed posthumously. About half way through World War II the design returned to the dull bronze style. The following are the total amounts of awards given out and when they were given. World War I - 1,658 Haiti - 10 Gillespie Expedition - 12 Lake Denmark Explosion - 20 Florence H. Explosion - 62 Byrd Expedition – 8 NC Flights –15 Panay Incident – 26 Squalus Rescue - 46 Other – 36 2nd Nicaragua – 102 World War II – 3.645 Korea - 246 Vietnam - 485 USS Liberty Incident - 1 Pueblo Incident - 1 Grenada - 1 Operation Desert Storm - 2 Operation Just Cause (Panama) - 1 Total – 6,375 The first recipient was unknown, due to the fact that the awards were first given out retroactively to a list of people after World War I Sources: