The John A. Bonner Award is bestowed by the Academy Board of Governors upon the recommendation of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee. It is given "to an individual in recognition of extraordinary service to the motion picture industry."
The first Medal of Commendation was awarded in 1977. It is not necessarily given every year.
In 1997, the Board of Governors voted to name the award in honor of sound engineer John A. Bonner, who had been director of special projects at Warner Hollywood Studios until his death in 1996. In 1994, Bonner himself was the last person to receive the award before his name was attached.
"No one better represents the concept of service and dedication to the Academy than John Bonner," said then-Academy President Arthur Hiller. "John was dedicated to the Academy for more than 30 years. His devotion to the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater was legendary, and his commitment to the Academy was simply extraordinary."
For many years, Bonner served as an Academy Governor representing the Sound Branch and as chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee and the Theater Sound Inspection Committee.