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How To Wear Navy Medals
 
Introduction:
For the first 120 years of the Navy's existence, service men did not wear signs of overseas service or combat. Medals and decorations of this type were seen as the frills of royalty and empires. This concept military decoration was the reverse of the spirit of democracy that initially founded our country. But on a very few instances the Congress awarded special commendations to heroes for naval victories. These were not intended to be worn on a naval uniform however, and were predominantly given to military commanders.
 
It wasn't until 1905 when President Theodore Roosevelt strongly encouraged the military to create badges to be worn on the uniform of service men and women. These badges of courage were initially designed to commemorate prior service in specific campaigns of conflict or war. The creation and administration of these badges fell to each individual service organization and no longer required congressional approval.
 
In 1908 the U.S. Navy issued it's frist badges for the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the Boxer Rebellion. This was the beginning of the Navy and Marine Corps service medals.
 
The Navy has a specific set of criteria and standards for how medals and ribbons are to be worn on a uniform. The Commissioned Corps Instruction Wear Of Ribbons and Medals (CC26.3.3) was issued on 28 August 2008. This issuance applies to all Regular Corps and Reserve Corps officers.
 
Wearing military ribbons of any kind is a very reverent act. It should be approached with a great deal of respect and honor not only to the self, but to those who have fallen in service of their country.
 
Gather Together:
· The right to wear the medals and ribbons
· A clean uniform or civilian jacket
 
Step 1:
Ribbons are worn in horizontal rows consisting of up to three ribbons in each row. When more than three ribbons are authorized, they are worn in horizontal rows of three each. If not in multiples of three, the uppermost row shall contain the lesser number and the center of this row is over the center of the ribbon below it. Ribbons are placed without intervals between ribbons or rows of ribbons.
 
They are worn with the lower edge of the bottom row centered 1/4 inch above the left breast pocket and parallel to the floor. To avoid being covered by the coat lapel, ribbons may be aligned so the border is to wearer's left and parallel with the left side of the pocket.
 
Ribbons worn on the right breast (i.e., when wearing Full Dress uniforms) are worn with the lower edge of the bottom row centered ¼ inch above the right breast pocket, or ribbons are worn in the same relative position as if there were a pocket.
 
Step 2:
Ribbons which do not have a symmetrical color design or which have stars as part of the design are displayed as follows:
  1. Medal of Honor Ribbon. The stars should form an 'M' with a single ray of all stars pointing up.
  2. Navy and Marine Corps Ribbon. The blue stripe is inboard (to the wearer's right).
  3. Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon. The blue stripe is uppermost.
  4. Merchant Marine Mariner's Ribbon. The red stripe is to the wearer's right.
  5. World War II Theater Ribbons. The blue stripe in the center is to the wearer's right.
  6. Army and Navy Occupation Service Ribbons. The black stripe is to the wearer's right.
  7. Philippine Defense Ribbon. The stars shall form a triangle, base down, with a single ray of all stars pointing up.
  8. Philippine Liberation Ribbon. The blue stripe in the center is to the wearer's right.
  9. Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon. The blue stripe is inboard and worn with the gold frame.
  10. Korean Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon. The red portion of the circular device in the center is uppermost, worn with gold frame.
  11. Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon. Worn with gold frame.
  12. Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. The blue stripe in the center is worn to the wearer's right.
  13. Combat Action Ribbon. The outermost blue stripe is to the wearer's right.
  14. Kosovo Campaign Medal. The broad blue stripe is worn to the wearer's right.
  15. Kuwait Liberation Medal (Emirate of Kuwait). The black stripe is uppermost.
  16. Reserve Officers Association. The red stripe is to the wearer's right.
 
Large Medals.
  1. When more than one medal is worn, they are suspended from a holding bar of metal or other material of sufficient stiffness to support the weight of the medals. The holding bar of the lowest row of medals is located in the same position as the lowest ribbon bar. The bar is 4 1/8 inches wide and each row of medals is 3 1/4 inches long from top of ribbons to bottom of medals, so that the bottom of each medal constitutes a horizontal line. When more than one row is worn, no row is to contain a lesser number of medals than the row above. Except for the uppermost row, all rows shall contain the same number of medals, three medals side by side or up to five medals overlapping. Overlapping is equal, and right or inboard medal shall show in full. Upper rows of medals, if worn, are mounted so that these medals cover the suspension ribbons of the medals.
  2. When either large or miniature medals are prescribed, both the Medal of Honor pendant and the Surgeon General's Medallion are worn from their respective suspension ribbons placed around the neck. When either of these medals is worn with the officer's White Service coat, the ribbon shall pass outside the coat collar. When worn with all other coats, the ribbon shall pass between the shirt and coat collar.
 
Step 4:
Miniature Medals.
  1. On the male officer's Formal and Dinner Dress jackets, the holding bar of the lowest row of miniature medals is positioned 3 inches below the notch and centered on the lapel, parallel to the ground. Three or more miniature medals are positioned starting at the inner edge of the lapel and extended beyond the lapel on the body of the jacket. When worn on the male officer's Blue or White Service coats, the holding bar is centered immediately above the left breast pocket. When worn on the jacket of the female officer's Formal Dress uniform or Dinner Dress uniform, the holding bar is worn in the same relative position as on the male's Dinner Dress jacket, down 1/3 of the distance from the shoulder seam to the coat hem. When worn on the female officer's Blue or White coats, the holding bar is centered immediately above the left pocket flap. Each row of miniatures is 2 1/4 inches long from top of ribbons to bottom of medals so that the bottom of each medal constitutes a horizontal line. Upper rows of medals are positioned so that these medals cover the ribbons of the medals.
  2. When miniature medals are prescribed, the Medal of Honor and the Surgeon General's Medallion, which are not made in miniature, are worn as described in Subsection 8-2.b.
 
 
And at least from this writer and my family -
Thank you all for your service and sacrifice in protecting our Country!
 
For More Information:
· Wear Of Ribbons and Medals (28 August 2008)
· U.S. Navy Official Website
· Service Medal Index
 
Additional Tips:
Service Men and Women should refer to The Commissioned Corps Instruction Wear Of Ribbons and Medals for complete instructions.
 
Created: 07.06.2009       Updated: 07.06.2009
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