Charles Lindbergh Received The First Distinguished Flying Cross

On a morning just three weeks ago yesterday, this wholesome, earnest, fearless, courageous product of America rose into the air from Long Island in a monoplane christened "The Spirit of St. Louis" in honor of his home and that of his supporters. It was no haphazard adventure. After months of most careful preparation, supported by a valiant character, driven by an unconquerable will and inspired by the imagination and the spirit of his Viking ancestors, this reserve officer set wing across the dangerous stretches of the North Atlantic. He was alone. His destination was Paris. Thirty-three hours and thirty minutes later, in the evening of the second day, he landed at his destination on the French flying field at Le Bourget. He had traveled over 3,600 miles and established a new and remarkable record. The execution of his project was a perfect exhibition of art.”

— Calvin Coolidge

On June 11, 1927, Charles Lindbergh received the first Distinguished Flying Cross ever awarded. Since 1927, aviators honored with this medal have included World War II pilots President George Bush, Senator George McGovern, and astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom who flew one hundred missions during the Korean War.

Lindbergh's nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic on May 20-21, 1927, made aeronautical history. The stunt-flyer-turned-airmail-pilot's flight was underwritten by a group of St. Louis businessmen. Flying his monoplane, Spirit of St. Louis, Lindbergh captured the $25,000 prize offered for the first flight between New York and Paris.

On June 11, 1927, a fleet of warships and multiple flights of military aircraft including pursuit planes, bombers, and the rigid airship USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), escorted Lindbergh up the Potomac River to Washington, D.C. where President Calvin Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross. On that same day the U.S. Post Office Department issued a 10-Cent Air Mail stamp (Scott C-10) depicting the Spirit of St. Louis and a map of the flight. On June 13, 1927, a ticker-tape parade was held for him down 5th Avenue in New York City. The following night the City of New York further honored Capt. Lindbergh with a grand banquet at the Hotel Commodore attended by some 3,600 people.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a medal awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918." The decoration may also be given for an act performed prior to that date when the individual has been recommended for, but has not received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross or Distinguished Service Medal.