The POW Medal

The POW Medal is authorized by Public Law 99-145 (Nov. 8, 1985), as amended by Public Law 101-89 (Nov. 29, 1989), and codified at section 1128, title 10, United States Code. The POW Medal is authorized for any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Armed Forces, was taken prisoner and held captive after April 5, 1917. The POW Medal is to be issued only to those U.S. military personnel and other personnel granted credible U.S. military service who were taken prisoner and held captive:

    1. while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States
    2. while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force
    3. while serving with friendly forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing force in which the United States is not a belligerent party
    4. by foreign armed forces that are hostile to the United States, under circumstances which the Secretary concerned finds to have been comparable to those under which persons have generally been held captive by enemy armed forces during periods of armed conflict.
    5. The POW Medal may be awarded posthumously.
    6. The primary next of kin of eligible prisoners of war who die in captivity may be issued the POW Medal regardless of the length of stay in captivity.
    7. Personnel officially classified as MIA are not eligible for award of the POW Medal. The POW Medal will only be awarded when the individual’s prisoner of war status has been officially confirmed and recognized as such by the Department of the Army. Likewise, the return of remains, in and of itself, does not constitute evidence of confirmed prisoner of war status.