The Navy Cross is the highest medal that can be awarded by the United States Department of the Navy and the second highest award given for valor. It is normally awarded to only members of the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard but could be awarded to all branches of United States military as well as members of foreign militaries. It was established by Act of Congress (Pub.L. 65-253) and approved on February 4, 1919. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross.
The Navy Cross was instituted in part due to the entrance of the United States into World War I. Many European nations had the custom of decorating heroes from other nations, but the Medal of Honor was the sole American award for valor at the time. The Army instituted the Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Service Medal in 1918, while the Navy followed suit in 1919, retroactive to 6 April 1917. Originally, the Navy Cross was lower in precedence than the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, because it was awarded for both combat heroism and for 'other distinguished service.'  Congress revised this on 7 August 1942, making the Navy Cross a combat-only award and second only to the Medal of Honor. Since its creation, it has been awarded more than 6,300 times.
It was designed by James Earle Fraser.
The first actual recipient of the Navy Cross is unknown because initial awards were made from a lengthy list published after World War I. The most recent recipient is Gunnery Sgt. John S. Mosser, a native of TX,awarded in a ceremony at Recon Point in Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan on 18 December 2009 for actions in Afghanistan on 26 June 2008. Mosser, of 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, is credited with braving enemy fire repeatedly to rescue and treat wounded comrades. Then, “with the entire patrol desperately pinned down,” he devised a plan to break contact and extract his team, according to his medal citation. He is credited with saving 22 lives.