The Total Army Awards Program, outlined in Army Regulation 672-20, explains that the Army goal is "to foster mission accomplishment by recognizing excellence … and motivating [personnel] to high levels of performance and service."

One such award established in the 1970s was created to recognize Outstanding Achievement in Materiel Acquisition. In an Aug. 16, 1971, letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installation & Logistics), the commanding general of the Army Materiel Command recommended that an award be established to recognize achievements in Army acquisition. The award would be presented annually either by or on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.

Following an initial review by the Army Incentive Awards Board, the recommendation was tabled in the absence of other Army-level awards in occupational or functional fields. Interest in this type of award remained, however, and on May 15, 1972, the board approved the proposal and the Department of the Army announced the decision on July 21, 1972, and the first awards were presented in the next year.

The Army Award for Outstanding Achievement in Materiel Acquisition is open to both military and civilian employees "for the timely, efficient and economical acquisition of quality supplies and services."

It can be awarded to either an individual or a team of no more than five people who have made a significant contribution to the improvement of the materiel acquisition process. Four criteria were established to measure the process improvements. No more than 10 of these awards will be presented in any given year.

In June 1976, Mr. D.R. McClung of the Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Command became one of the earliest recipients of the award and the first BMDSCOM employee to be recognized. With 34 years of government service, McClung has been a member of the missile defense community since the 1960s and the NIKE-X era.

In 1976, McClung served as the chief of the Software and Digital Support Division of the Safeguard Project Office in the Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Command. McClung was cited for "his participation in major decisions affecting the development, acquisition, and deployment of the "state-of-the-art" Safeguard Data Processing System."

For his achievements, McClung received a medallion and certificate from Brig. Gen. John Jones, commander, BMDSCOM. Shaped like a pentagon, the medallion contains the portrait of Henry Knox with the text "Secretary of War 1785-1794" and 'Henry Knox.' On the reverse, with space for the recipients' name and the date, the medallion reads For Outstanding Achievement Materiel Acquisition and Secretary of the Army's Award.