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Rarest Military Medals

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All over the world, some people find the stories and meaning behind military honors to be a fascinating subject. Some even collect rare pieces of military gear and awards from everywhere across the globe. The following medals are some of the more coveted pieces of US military memorabilia by collectors, as they are very rare.

Combat Infantryman Badge (3rd Award)

The Third award of the Combat Infantryman Badge, more commonly referred to as the CIB, is one of the rarest service medals to ever be awarded, spanning back to WWII. Only 325 military personnel have been awarded this honor. 

This medal requires service in an active combat situation in a group brigade size or smaller. The medal is a blue bar with a rifle insignia, encompassed by a silver wreath bearing two stars, and is considered a “holy grail” for collectors of military medals.

The Congressional Medal of Honor

Normally referred to as simply the Medal of Honor, this is the highest honor given to service members in any branch of the United States Armed Forces. One of the rarest military thin ribbons, a light blue bar with five white stars, it has been awarded to less than 3500 recipients since the first award by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861. 

Each branch has its own variation of the prestigious medal. The original award was for members of the Army. The Navy and Marine Corps variant was adopted in 1862, and the Air Force variant was adopted in 1965. It is the oldest continued award in US military history.

Combat Medical Badge (3rd Award)

The third award of the Combat Medical Badge has only been awarded to two recipients in history. It is an award given to combat medics who risk their lives in combat scenarios in pursuit of saving others.

The only two people to ever receive the third award, Henry Jenkins and Wayne Slagel, were both given the CMB 3rd for bravery and valor during the Korean War. The medal bears the medic cross, enclosed in a wreath with wings, and two stars at this extremely rare level. The award is still available to anyone who can meet the eligibility requirements.

The Four Chaplains Medal of Honor

The Four Chaplains Medal is named after the only four recipients to have ever been given the award. All four were awarded posthumously to members of their families.

Reverend George L. Fox, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Reverend Clark V. Poling, and Friar John P. Washington were stationed on the SS Dorchester in early 1943 along with 900 others en route to the United Kingdom when it was attacked by a German U-223 submarine. The ship eventually sank into the ocean, after the four Chaplains gave their own life preservers to help save others.

The four chaplains, who had all attended Chaplain school at Harvard together only months before, all perished in the sinking. And they were all also posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and were all given Purple Hearts. 

Army Astronaut Badge

The Army version of the United States Astronaut Badge was adopted in May 1983. Since then, only 16 people have ever met the requirements to earn one, making it the rarest medal awarded by the United States Army.

Army members must pass NASA training for space flight, and complete a flight mission beyond 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. Servicemen who have received this honor have orbited the Earth just to make this accomplishment.

Medals Vary In Rarity

The fewer times a medal has been awarded, the rarer they will be. And some medals are given to family members after the passing of a serviceman or woman, and therefore not likely to be shown to most people. Collectors of US military medals and the like would be happy to get their hands on any of the medals on this list, as they are some of the rarest medals ever awarded.