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A service star is a miniature bronze or silver five-pointed star 316 inch in diameter that is authorized to be worn by members of the seven uniformed services of the United States on medals and ribbons to denote an additional award or service period.[1] The service star may also be referred to as a campaign star or battle star depending on which award is authorized the star and the manner in which the device is used for the award.[2]

Service Star
Silver and Bronze Service Stars.PNG
Bronze and silver 316 inch stars
Awarded by the United States
Type Ribbon device
Awarded for Worn to denote subsequent awards or periods of service.[1]
Status Currently in use

Service stars, Campaign stars, and Battle stars are worn with one point of the star pointing up on the suspension ribbon of a medal or service ribbon. A silver star is worn instead of five bronze stars.[1] A service star is sometimes mistaken for a Bronze Star (Bronze Star Medal) or Silver Star (Silver Star Medal). The service star is also similar to the gold and silver 516 Inch Stars which may be authorized to be worn on specific individual decorations of certain services to denote additional decorations.


Service starsEdit

Expeditionary medalsEdit

Service stars are authorized for the following United States expeditionary medals: Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, and Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.

Service stars are also authorized for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (GWOT-EM) effective February 9, 2015 retroactive to September, 11, 2001.[3] Each star represents a deployment in support of an approved GWOT operation. Only one GWOT-EM is awarded for each operation (four bronze service stars are authorized for five approved deployment operations). The five GWOT-EM approved operations by inclusive dates are:[3]

Enduring Freedom: Sep. 11, 2001 - TBD (to be determined)
Iraqi Freedom: Mar. 19, 2003 - Aug. 31, 2010
Nomad Shadow: Nov. 05, 2007 - TBD
New Dawn: Sep. 01, 2010 - Dec. 31, 2011
Inherent Resolve: Jun. 15, 2014 - TBD

Service medalsEdit

Bronze service stars are authorized for United States service medals such as the Prisoner of War Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air and Space Campaign Medal, and Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal to denoted additional awards.[1] The bronze service star is also authorized for certain unit awards such as the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy and Marine Corps) to denote a second and subsequent award. The service ribbon itself indicates the first award, with a bronze service star being added to indicate the second and subsequent awards. If ever applicable, a silver service star is worn instead of five bronze stars.

For the National Defense Service Medal, the addition of bronze service stars to denote participation in four of the designated wartime conflicts (Korean War, Vietnam Conflict, Gulf War, and War on Terrorism) would be as shown:[4]

  First award: any one of four conflicts
Second award: two of the four conflicts
Third award: three of the four conflicts
Fourth award: all four conflicts

As the time span from the end of the Korean War era in 1954 to the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism era in 2001 is 47 years, it is highly improbable that any individual qualified for all four the National Defense Service Medal in all four eras.

Campaign starsEdit

For United States campaign medals such as the Korean Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Iraq Campaign Medal, bronze and silver campaign stars are worn to denote participation in a designated campaign or campaign phase or period.[2] As a result, at least one campaign star will be worn on the ribbon. For example, when a member is authorized to wear the Iraq Campaign Medal, the potential addition of bronze and silver service stars for the seven designated Iraq Campaign phases would be:[5][6][7]

Any one of the seven phases
Two of the seven phases
Three of the seven phases
Four of the seven phases
Five of the seven phases
Six of the seven phases
All seven campaign phases

Battle starsEdit

Since February 26, 2004, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (GWOT-SM) are authorized to be awarded with bronze and silver battle stars for personnel who were engaged in specific battles in combat under circumstances involving grave danger of death or serious bodily injury from enemy action.[8][9] However, though authorized for wear, no battle stars have been approved for wear. Only a combatant commander can initiate a request for a battle star.[9] The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the approving authority.

Only one award of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and one award of the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal may be authorized for any individual. No service stars were authorized for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary or Service Medal[9] until February 9, 2015 when the Department of Defense authorized service stars for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal retroactive to September 11, 2001.[3]

Earlier service stars and battle starsEdit

Service stars (sometimes called campaign stars or battle stars) were also authorized for the World War I Victory Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. The specific manner of wear and symbolism of the stars varied from medal to medal. For example, an American Campaign Medal with a bronze service star indicated the service member had participated in an antisubmarine campaign. On other medals, bronze service stars were used on the medal's service ribbon for those recipients of medals in possession of authorized campaign clasps for those medals.

Navy warshipsEdit

Historically, during World War II and the Korean War, commendations called "battle stars" were also issued to United States Navy warships for meritorious participation in battle, or for having suffered damage during battle conditions. Similarly, during the Vietnam War and afterwards, the Battle Effectiveness Award ("Battle E") took the place of receiving battle stars for superior battle efficiency in place of combat operations.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Manual of Military Decorations and Awards, Volume 3" (PDF). Department of Defense. Paragraph 15e (Page 67). Retrieved March 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Manual of Military Decorations and Awards, Volume 3" (PDF). Department of Defense. Paragraph 15f-g (Page 67-68). Retrieved March 13, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "DoD Authorizes Service Stars on Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Air Force Personnel Center National Defense ServicePresidential Unit Citation (Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) Medal
  5. ^ "Afghanistan Campaign Medal or Iraq Campaign Medal". Awards and Decorations Branch Article. Army Human Resource Command. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Additional Phases Identified for Iraq Campaign Medal
  7. ^ "News Release: Additional Phases Identified for Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals". Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  8. ^ "Manual of Military Decorations and Awards, Volume 3" (PDF). Department of Defense. Paragraph 15g (Page 68). Retrieved March 13, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c "DoD Announces Criteria for Global War on Terrorism Medals". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 26 February 2004. 

External linksEdit