Order of Precedence – Understanding U.S. Military Awards

Order of Precedence – Understanding U.S. Military Awards

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navyribbonscontent 150x150 Order of Precedence   Understanding U.S. Military Awards

Military Ribbons

The first area of potential confusion is the order of military ribbon wear on the U.S. military uniform. A careful examination of the various awards manuals and uniform regulations shows that three distinct arrangements for order of precedence exist among the five Services (the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard share a common scheme).

Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Order of Precedence

Arbitrarily taking the Navy method as a baseline, the various award precedence schemes break down into general categories as follows:

A. U.S. Military Decorations
B. U.S. Unit Awards
C. U.S. Non-Military Decorations
D. U.S. Merchant Marine Decorations
E. Prisoner of War and Good Conduct Medals
F. Campaign, Service and Training Awards
G. U.S. Merchant Marine Service Awards
H. Foreign Military Decorations
I. Foreign Unit Awards
J. Non U.S. Service Awards
K. Marksmanship Awards

Army Order of Precedence

The order of precedence established by the Army is as follows:

A. U.S. Military Decorations
E. Prisoner of War Medal
C. U.S. Non-Military Decorations
E. Good Conduct Medal
F. Campaign, Service and Training Awards
D. U.S. Merchant Marine Decorations
G. U.S. Merchant Marine Service Awards
H. Foreign Military Decorations
J. Non U.S. Service Awards

NOTE: All U.S. and foreign unit awards (categories B and I above) are worn on the right breast of the Army uniform.

USAF Order of Precedence

The Air Force has been left for last owing to its unique set of ribbon rules. Not only is the Air Force order of precedence different from those discussed earlier but some of their medals and ribbons, designated as “Achievement Awards”, do not fit neatly into the previously defined categories. The Air Force precedence list is as follows:

A. U.S. Military Decorations
B. U.S. Unit Awards
C. U.S. Non-Military Decorations
D. U.S. Merchant Marine Decorations
E. Prisoner of War Medal Combat Readiness Medal
E. Good Conduct Medal
F. Campaign, Service and Training Awards
K. Marksmanship Awards Air Force Training Ribbon
J. Philippine Service Awards
G. U.S. Merchant Marine Service Awards
H. Foreign Military Decorations
I. Foreign Unit Awards
J. Non U.S. Service Awards

Be sure to check out our Military Medal Order of Precedence Charts in Medals of America’s resource section. Also, while you’re there be sure to shop our huge selection of Military Rank, Challenge Coins, Military Dog Tags and more.

Order of Precedence - Understanding U.S. Military Awards, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Jim at 11:04 pm
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    Why is it that no one seems to know what order some of the Vietnam medals go in, my Dad was awarded the Life saving medal, Air Gallantry Cross, and the Special services medal and I am trying to make a shadow box and cant find anywhere how they go.

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