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Ref: AFI 36-2803 Air Force Awards and Decorations Program

How to Write the Air Force Citation

Write the citation. This is the text that will be read during the presentation of the award. It can only be 6 - 14 lines long (depending on award and font size) so it's not that hard. Below is guidance for the most common Air Force awards, the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.


General Air Force Citation Instructions:

Prepare citations on 8-1/2 by 11 inch plain bond paper (landscape) or the appropriate form:

  • AF Form 2274, Air Force Achievement Medal
  • AF Form 2224, Air Force Commendation Medal
  • AF Form 2228, Meritorious Service Medal

Use Times New Roman 12 point font.

Use the mandatory opening and closing sentences listed below.

Final text must be perfect with no corrections.

Citations must capture the substance of the decoration with dignity and clarity.

The narrative is a short description of the act, achievement, or service. Be specific on facts and limit to no more than two sentences, if possible. Emphasize the individual's mission contribution and use active voice and forceful verbs.

The use of common exercise or code names is acceptable in citations (Roving Sands, etc.). Do not use any abbreviations other than Jr., Sr., II, etc. Do not use symbols (the exception is the dollar sign) and do not use abbreviations. Even common abbreviations should be spelled out (USAF, DoD, AFB, etc).

Do not use zeros in front of single-digit dates (ex. 1 Jan 06).

For compound grade titles, such as Senior Airman and Staff Sergeant, spell out the complete grade title in the opening sentence and then use the short title (Airman, Sergeant, etc) in the remainder of the citation.

Do not separate the rank from the name. They should be always listed together.






Air Force Commendation Medal:

Limit narrative to eight lines using 12 point font and 14 lines using 10 point font.

Opening Sentence Options:

Staff Sergeant Crystal A. Smith distinguished herself by (meritorious service) OR (outstanding achievement) OR (an act of courage) as (duty assignment and office) OR (while assigned to _____(office) from _____to _____).

OR

Staff Sergeant Crystal A. Smith distinguished herself by (outstanding achievement) OR (an act of courage) (at or near) on (date).

The first Opening Sentence option above should be used for citations written to recognize "meritorious service". It's normally used for PCS citations for years of service. It should also be used for citations for "outstanding achievement" recognizing shorter periods of service. An example of outstanding achievement would be the successfull completion of an important project or operation.

The second Opening Sentence option should be used for short term, one-time accomplishments such as completing a small-scale self-help project or the rescue of an accident victim.

If the first Opening Sentence option is appropriate, after choosing the appropriate type of service (meritorious service / outstanding achievement / act of courage), you have the choice of listing either the member's "duty assignment and office" or their assignment dates and office assigned to. For PCS awards (meritorious service), the assignment dates option is usually appropriate. The "duty assignment and office" option is normally appropriate for awards for shorter terms of service (outstanding achievement). Reference AFI 36-2803, The Air Force Awards and Decoration Program, Para 2.3 and 2.4.


Narrative Description:

For Meritorious Service or Outstanding Achievement: During this period, the professional skill, leadership, and ceaseless efforts of Sergeant Smith contributed to the effectiveness and success of... (Click here for citation examples.)

OR

For an Act of Courage: Describe the act of courage. Example: On that date, Sergeant Smith arrived on the scene of an automobile accident which seriously injured the driver of the vehicle. Without hesitation, Sergeant Smith went to the aid of the injured victim, expertly administered first aid, and remained with him until arrival of professional assistance.


Closing Sentence:

Meritorious Service or Outstanding Achievement.The distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Smith reflect credit upon herself and the United States Air Force.

OR

Act of Courage. By her prompt action and humanitarian regard for her fellowman, Sergeant Smith has reflected credit upon herself and the United States Air Force.

OR

Retirement Award. The distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Smith culminate a (long and) distinguished career in the service of her country and reflect credit upon herself and the United States Air Force.

OR

Separation Award. The distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Smith while serving her country reflect credit upon herself and the United States Air Force.

OR

Posthumous Award. The distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Smith in the dedication of her service to her country reflect credit upon herself and the United States Air Force.







Air Force Achievement Medal:

Limit narrative to six lines using 12 point font and nine lines using 10 point font.

Opening Sentence:

(OPTION 1) Senior Airman Dick W. Taylor distinguished himself by (meritorious service OR outstanding achievement), as (duty assignment and office location) OR while assigned to (office location).

OR

(OPTION 2) Senior Airman Dick W. Taylor distinguished himself by outstanding achievement (at or near).

Use one of the two Opening Sentences listed above depending on the type of act being recognized.

Opening Sentence Option 1 is, in general, for PCS medals. Option 1 should be used for citations written to recognize lengthy periods of service (years). It's normally used for medals awarded at the end of an assignment. In Air Force lingo, this is known as "meritorious service" which is defined as "exemplary service over an extended period of time".

Opening Sentence Option 1 should also be used for citations for "outstanding achievement". An example of outstanding achievement would be the successfull completion of an important project or operation of significant duration (weeks or months) or importance.

Opening Sentence Option 2 is for recognizing acts of achievement. Option 2 should be used for short term, one-time accomplishments such as completing a small-scale self-help project or the rescue of an accident victim.

If the first Opening Sentence option is appropriate, after choosing the appropriate type of service (meritorious service / outstanding achievement), you have the choice of listing either the member's "duty assignment and office location" or the "while assigned to office location" phrase. For PCS awards (meritorious service), the duty assignment and office location option is appropriate. The "while assigned to..." option is appropriate for awards for shorter terms of service (outstanding achievement). Reference AFI 36-2803, The Air Force Awards and Decoration Program, Para 2.3 and 2.4.


Narrative Description (Achievement or Service):

Airman Taylorís outstanding professional skill, knowledge, and leadership... (Click here for citation examples.)


Closing Sentence:

Confine the closing to one sentence which will personalize the summation. (The same closing line used with Commendation Medals is commonly used: "The distinctive accomplishments of Airman Taylor reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."




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