Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces
The awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces include various medals, service ribbons, ribbon devices, and specific badges which recognize military service and personal accomplishments of members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Such awards are a means to outwardly display the highlights of a service member's career.
U.S. military awards currently issued to service members edit
General order of precedence edit
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.
Note: ^ The precedence of the Purple Heart was immediately before the Good Conduct Medals until changed to its current precedence in 1985.
Military departments edit
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.
Inactive and obsolete awards edit
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 Such awards have since been discontinued or are no longer applicable in terms of receiving these commendations.
Discontinued or proposed edit
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.
Single service awards edit
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. 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.
Unofficial decorations edit
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.
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. 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.
Foreign and international awards edit
Foreign and international decorations are authorized for wear on United States military uniforms by the Department of Defense in accordance with established regulations for the receipt of such awards as outlined by the State Department. In the case of foreign decorations, the awards may be divided into senior service decorations (awarded only to high ranking U.S. officers), heroic decorations for valor, and foreign service decorations.
There are hundreds of foreign and international awards which have been approved for issuance to United States military personnel since World War I, the following being among the more common.
During the First and Second World Wars, the Croix de Guerre medals of France and Belgium, as well as the French Military Medal and Luxembourg War Cross, were further issued as unit citation cords, known as Fourragère. Service members could receive both the individual award and the unit cord; in the case of the later, the unit citation could either be worn temporarily while a member of the unit or permanently if the service member was present during the actual battle which warranted the unit citation. A further unit citation cord of the Order of William of the Netherlands was also issued during World War II, and was far more commonly known as the "Orange Lanyard".
As of 2002, South Korea has again issued the Korean Presidential Unit Citation to certain units of the United States Marine Corps, thus placing this previously obsolete foreign award back on the active order of precedence for U.S. decorations. Apart from this one decoration, most 21st century foreign military awards are reserved for only the most senior flag and general officers and then only presented as "end of tour" decorations upon transfer from a major command.
See also edit
- Awards and decorations of the United States government
- Merchant Marine
- Awards and decorations of the Public Health Service
- Awards and decorations of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Civilian decorations of the United States
- Awards and decorations of the National Guard
- Awards and decorations of the State Defense Forces
- Military decorations of the Cold War
- United States military award devices
- Military badges of the United States
- Badges of the United States Air Force
- Badges of the United States Army
- Badges of the United States Coast Guard
- Badges of the United States Marine Corps
- Badges of the United States Navy
- Badges of the United States Space Force
- Obsolete badges of the United States military
- Identification badges of the uniformed services of the United States
- Unofficial combat badges of the United States Army
- List of military decorations
- State decoration
- Army-Navy "E" Award
- Medal inflation
- "Nimber 1348.33, Volume 3" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. United States Department of Defense. 31 October 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- http://www.homeofheroes.com/medals/1_precedence.html Archived 16 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 February 2008.
- OPNAVINST 3591.1F, Small Arms Training and Qualification Archived 22 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Chief of Naval Operations, dated 12 August 2009, last accessed 5 May 2013
- "COMDTINST M1650.25D, Medals and Awards Manual, U.S. Coast Guard, dated May 2008, last accessed 5 May 2013" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 December 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- "U.S. Coast Guard Uniform Regulations, dated March 2012, last accessed 5 May 2013" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "The Institute of Heraldry – Army Chaplain Medal of Valor". Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Price, James S. (2011). The Battle of New Market Heights: freedom Will Be Theirs by the Sword. Charleston, SC: The History Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-1-60949-038-6.
Further reading edit
- Foster, Frank C. (2002). A complete guide to all United States military medals, 1939 to present. Fountain Inn, S.C.: MOA Press. ISBN 1-884-45218-3. OCLC 54755134.
- Kerrigan, Evans E. (1971). American war medals and decorations. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-12101-0. OCLC 128058.
- Kerrigan, Evans E. (1990). American medals and decorations. Noroton Heights, CT: Medallic. ISBN 0-792-45082-5. OCLC 21467942.
- Robles, Philip K. (1971). United States military medals and ribbons. Rutland, VT: C. E. Tuttle. ISBN 0-804-80048-0. OCLC 199721.
- Decorations and Medals - Ribbons - Order of Precedence at the Institute of Heraldry website
- U.S. Army Symbols and Insignia
- The Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army
- U.S. Navy Service and Campaign Medals
- Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia (in PDF format)
- Military Awards (U.S. Army)(in PDF format) Archived 7 December 2003 at the Wayback Machine
- SGM (USA, Ret.) Gregory A. Noller (1995). "ADVA Army Awards". Americal Division Veterans Association. Archived from the original on 1 January 2012.