The Legion of Merit Medal was established by Congressional decree on 20JULY1942.
Most of the nations of the world had a high ranking “Atta Boy” medal that it could award to foreign dignitaries. As our military leaders began interacting with their counterparts in other Allied countries, it became apparent that the United States needed an “Atta Boy” award of its own.
Established in four grades, the top two are awarded ONLY to foreign dignitaries. Chiang Kai-shek received the first CHIEF COMMANDER medal. Brazilian General Amaro Bettencourt recieved the first COMMANDER medal. U.S. Army Captain Ralph B. Praeger was the first recipient of the U.S. “OFFICER” grade medal. Lieutenant Colonel Westry Battle Boyce was the first woman to awarded the Legion of Merit.