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Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces

Military awards and decorations given to personnel and units of the United States armed forces

  (Redirected from Awards and decorations of the United States military)
Service ribbons, ribbon devices, and badge awards displayed on a U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Petty Officer's service dress blue uniform

The United States Armed Forces awards and decorations are primarily the medals, service ribbons, and specific badges which recognize military service and personal accomplishments while a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Such awards are a means to outwardly display the highlights of a service member's career.

Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces Intro articles: 3

U.S. military, awards currently issued to service members

Order of precedence

The precedence of particular awards will vary slightly among the different branches of service. All awards and decorations may be awarded to any service member unless otherwise designated by name or notation.[1]

Ribbon/award name[2]
Personal decorations
Awarded for "gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty"

  Medal of Honor

Service cross medals - Awarded for "extraordinary heroism in combat"

  Army Distinguished Service Cross

  Navy Cross

  Air Force Cross

  Coast Guard Cross

Distinguished service medals - Awarded for "exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility"

  Defense Distinguished Service Medal

  Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal

  Army Distinguished Service Medal

  Navy Distinguished Service Medal

  Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

  Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal

Awarded for "gallantry in action"

  Silver Star Medal

Awarded for "superior or exceptionally meritorious service"

  Defense Superior Service Medal

  Legion of Merit

Awarded for "heroism or extraordinary achievement in aerial flight"

  Distinguished Flying Cross

Medals for non-combat heroism

  Soldier's Medal

  Navy and Marine Corps Medal

  Airman's Medal

  Coast Guard Medal

Awarded for heroism in combat zone or meritorious service in a war zone

  Bronze Star Medal

Awarded for wounds suffered in combatPH

  Purple Heart

Meritorious service and aviation medals

  Defense Meritorious Service Medal

  Meritorious Service Medal

  Air Medal
  Aerial Achievement Medal
Commendation medals

  Joint Service Commendation Medal

  Army Commendation Medal

  Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

  Air Force Commendation Medal

  Coast Guard Commendation Medal

Achievement medals

  Joint Service Achievement Medal

  Army Achievement Medal

  Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal

  Air Force Achievement Medal

  Coast Guard Achievement Medal

  Commandant's Letter of Commendation
Combat action awards

  Navy Combat Action Ribbon

  Air Force Combat Action Medal

  Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon

Also see: Army combat badges

Unit awards
Presidential Unit Citations

  Army Presidential Unit Citation

  Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation

  Air Force Presidential Unit Citation

  Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation

  Army Valorous Unit Award

  Navy Unit Commendation

  Air Force Gallant Unit Citation

  Coast Guard Unit Commendation

Meritorious Unit Commendations

  Joint Meritorious Unit Award

  Army Meritorious Unit Commendation

  Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation

  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award

  Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation

  Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation

  Army Superior Unit Award

  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

  DHS Outstanding Unit Award

Efficiency Awards

  Navy "E" Ribbon

  Air Force Organizational Excellence Award

  Coast Guard "E" Ribbon

Service awards
  Prisoner of War Medal
Good conduct medals

  Army Good Conduct Medal

  Navy Good Conduct Medal

  Air Force Good Conduct Medal

  Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal

  Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal

  Air Force Combat Readiness Medal
  Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon

  Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year Ribbon

  Air Force Recognition Ribbon
Reserve service medals

  Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal

  Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal

  Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal

  Coast Guard Reserve Good Conduct Medal

  Armed Forces Reserve Medal

Expeditionary medals

  Navy Expeditionary Medal

  Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal

Continued on right column
Ribbon/award name[2]
Campaign and service medals (cont.)
General service medals
  National Defense Service Medal
  Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  Korea Defense Service Medal
  Armed Forces Service Medal
  Humanitarian Service Medal
  Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
Special service medals
  Antarctica Service Medal
  Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal
  Air and Space Campaign Medal
  Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal
  Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal
Campaign and Expeditionary / Conflict Service Medals
  Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  Afghanistan Campaign Medal
  Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal
  Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Service and training awards
  Army Sea Duty Ribbon

  Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon

  Coast Guard Sea Service Ribbon

  Naval Reserve Sea Service Ribbon

  Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon

  Navy Arctic Service Ribbon

Overseas service ribbons

  Army Overseas Service Ribbon

  Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon

  Coast Guard Overseas Service Ribbon

  Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon

  Air Force Overseas Long Tour Service Ribbon

  Army Reserve Overseas Training Ribbon

  Coast Guard Restricted Duty Ribbon

  Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon

Longevity ribbon

  Air Force Longevity Service Award

Recruiting service and training service ribbons

  Navy Recruiting Service Ribbon

  Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon

  Coast Guard Recruiting Service Ribbon

  Navy Accession Training Service Ribbon

  Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon

  Marine Corps Combat Instructor Ribbon

  Air Force Special Duty Ribbon

Guard ribbons

  Navy Ceremonial Guard Ribbon

  Marine Corps Security Guard Ribbon

Professional development Ribbons

  Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon

  Air Force NCO PME Graduate Ribbon

Basic training honor graduate ribbons

  Navy Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon

  Air Force Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon

  Coast Guard Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon

Training ribbons

  Army Service Ribbon

  Air Force Training Ribbon

Marksmanship awards[3][4][5]
  Air Force Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon

  Coast Guard Distinguished Marksman Award

  Coast Guard Silver Rifle Excellence-in-Competition Award

  Coast Guard Bronze Rifle Excellence-in-Competition Award

  Navy Expert Rifleman Medal

  Coast Guard Expert Rifleman Medal

  Navy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with Sharpshooter Device

  Coast Guard Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with Sharpshooter Device

  Navy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon

  Coast Guard Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon


  Coast Guard Distinguished Pistol Shot Award

  Coast Guard Silver Pistol Excellence-in-Competition Award

  Coast Guard Bronze Pistol Excellence-in-Competition Award

  Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal

  Coast Guard Expert Pistol Shot Medal

  Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with Sharpshooter Device

  Coast Guard Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with Sharpshooter Device

  Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon

  Coast Guard Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon

Note: ^ The precedence of the Purple Heart was immediately before the Good Conduct Medals until changed to its current precedence in 1985.

Military departments

To denote additional achievements or multiple awards of the same decoration, the United States military maintains a number of award devices which are pinned to service ribbons and medals.

Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces U.S. military, awards currently issued to service members articles: 96

U.S. military, inactive and obsolete awards

U.S. military personnel having received these awards have participated within these areas of combat / conflict during the time these awards were given to U.S. service members. Such awards have since been discontinued or are no longer applicable in terms of receiving these commendations.

Ribbon/award name
Personal decorations
  Certificate of Merit Medal
  Marine Corps Brevet Medal
  Specially Meritorious Service Medal
  Reserve Special Commendation Ribbon
  Army Wound Ribbon
Department of Transportation military awards
  Transportation Distinguished Service Medal
  Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award
  Coast Guard Bicentennial Unit Commendation
19th and early 20th century Commemorative Medals
  West Indies Naval Campaign Medal (Sampson Medal)
  Battle of Manila Bay Medal (Dewey Medal)
  United States Antarctic Expedition Medal
19th and early 20th century Campaign Medals
  Civil War Campaign Medal
  Indian Campaign Medal
  China Campaign Medal (Army)

  China Relief Expedition Medal (Navy)

Spanish–American War campaign and occupation medals
  Spanish Campaign Medal
  West Indies Campaign Medal
  Spanish War Service Medal
  Army of Cuban Occupation Medal
  Cuban Pacification Medal (Army)

  Cuban Pacification Medal (Navy)

  Army of Puerto Rican Occupation Medal
Philippine–American War campaign medals
  Philippine Campaign Medal
  Philippine Congressional Medal
Navy & Marine Corps expedition medals
  Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1912)
  Haitian Campaign Medal (1915 & 1920–1921)
  Dominican Campaign Medal (1916)
  Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1926-1930)
  Yangtze Service Medal
Ribbon/award name
World War I and Pre-World War I service medals
  Mexican Service Medal (1911-1917)
  Mexican Border Service Medal
  World War I Victory Medal
  Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
World War II and Pre-World War II service medals
  China Service Medal
  American Defense Service Medal
  Women's Army Corps Service Medal
  American Campaign Medal
  Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
  European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
  World War II Victory Medal
Post World War II, Cold War Service, Occupation Medals
  Medal for Humane Action
  Army of Occupation Medal

  Navy Occupation Service Medal

  Korean Service Medal
  Vietnam Service Medal
Middle Eastern & Modern Conflicts / Wars
  Southwest Asia Service Medal
  Kosovo Campaign Medal
  Iraq Campaign Medal
Service and training awards
  Naval Reserve Medal
  Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon
  Fleet Marine Force Ribbon
  Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal
  Air Force Military Training Instructor Ribbon
  Air Force Recruiter Ribbon
  Navy Distinguished Marksman and Pistol Shot Ribbon
  Navy Distinguished Marksman Ribbon
  Navy Distinguished Pistol Shot Ribbon

Discontinued or proposed

The following decorations were designed for issuance with an approved medal, but were either never officially approved for presentation or were discontinued before a first award could be made.

Ribbon/award name
Personal decorations
  Distinguished Warfare Medal
Combat service decorations
  Combat Recognition Ribbon
Ribbon/award name
General service award
  Cold War Victory Medal

Single service awards

Single service awards were official military decorations created as one time awards to recognize a single event. The first such single service award was issued during the Spanish–American War by the Revenue Cutter Service to honor the actions of the vessel USRC Hudson during the Battle of Cárdenas. The last single service award was issued in 1960 when Congress authorized the awarding of the Four Chaplains' Medal recognizing the Four Chaplains who died together during World War II.[6] There have been no single service awards issued since by the U.S. military, mainly due to the decline and complications of awarding commemorative service medals.

Ribbon/award name
Personal valor decorations
  Four Chaplains' Medal
Personal commemorative decorations
  Cardenas Medal of Honor
  NC-4 Medal
Ribbon/award name
Exploratory commemorative decorations
  Peary Polar Expedition Medal
  Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medal
  Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medal

Unofficial decorations

Unofficial decorations are those military awards created and issued by local commanders. In most cases, unofficial awards were designed to commemorate a specific battle or engagement of a commander's unit. The most well known unofficial awards were issued during the American Civil War.

Ribbon/award name
Civil War decorations
Kearny Cross
Kearny Medal
Butler Medal
Gillmore Medal
Ribbon/award name
Research decorations
  Walter Reed Medal

After the Civil War, stricter military regulations prohibited local commanders from issuing awards and the practice had fallen into disuse by the 20th century. Even so, the Department of Defense has stated that large numbers of unofficial medals were privately issued to members of the Armed Forces of the United States for many years after the Civil War, mostly to commemorate specific battles, events, or as private veteran memorabilia.[7] One of the more well known is the Walter Reed Medal (recognized today as a Congressional Gold Medal), awarded for exploratory scientific achievement in the field of malaria treatment. While presented as a gold medallion, members of the military were reported to wear a red ribbon on their uniforms to denote the decoration.

Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces U.S. military, inactive and obsolete awards articles: 75