Combat Action Ribbon
|Combat Action Ribbon|
Top: U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps
Bottom: U.S. Coast Guard
|Awarded by United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
United States Coast Guard
|Eligibility||Satisfactory performance under enemy fire while actively participating in a ground or maritime engagement.|
|Awarded for||Active participation in ground or surface combat on or after December 7, 1941.|
|Established||Department of the Navy -
February 17, 1969
Department of Homeland Security - July 16, 2008
|Next (higher)||Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Coast Guard Commandant's Letter of Commendation
|Equivalent||Air Force Combat Action Medal|
|Related||The Army Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Medical Badge, and Combat Action Badge.|
The Combat Action Ribbon is a service ribbon that is awarded by the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard for satisfactory performance under enemy fire in ground and surface/maritime combat. The Combat Action Ribbon is a personal decoration and is authorized in two versions:
Eligibility for the Navy version (Navy-Marine Corps 1969, retroactive from December 7, 1941) of the award includes Coast Guard members who operated under control of the Navy since December 6, 1941. Coast Guard members are eligible for the Coast Guard version of the award since 2008. Coast Guard members who were awarded the Navy Combat Action Ribbon after January 1, 2009 are authorized only to wear the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon.
The Navy Combat Action Ribbon (CAR) was established during the Vietnam War by a Secretary of the Navy Notice, dated February 17, 1969 with retroactive award to March 1, 1961. The CAR (Navy/Marine Corps version) is awarded to members of the Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard (when operating under the control of the Navy) personnel with the grade of captain/colonel and below, who have actively participated in ground or surface combat.
Sailors and Marines in clandestine or special operations where their ability to return fire is curtailed may be deemed eligible. Personnel who earn the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Badge, or Combat Action Medal while assigned to United States Army or United States Air Force units, or who earned such for prior service in said service branch's may be authorized to wear the Combat Action Ribbon upon application to the Department of the Navy.
In Jan 2013 the awarding criteria was expanded to include dangerous exposure to IEDs, mines, and scatterable munitions, be it the detonation of such or direct action taken to disable, render safe, or destroy such, can be deemed eligible if detonated or specifically emplaced by the enemy. Previously it applied only to exposure to IEDs detonated by the enemy. Eligibility under this criterion is retroactive only to 7 October 2001.
Blanket lists of units and operations whose members or participants are deemed to be "in-combat", and thus potentially eligible, can be found in OPNAVNOTE 1650 (for specific units & ships) & in chapter 2, appendix E of recent SECNAVINST's (for specific operations & ships) though "Neither service in a combat area nor being awarded the Purple Heart Medal automatically makes a service member eligible" and specific sailors and marines may receive the ribbon in recognition of individual actions or various minor operations.
Additional awards of the CAR (Navy/Marine Corps version) are denoted by 5⁄16 inch gold/silver stars on the ribbon.
- World War II and Korean War
In October 1999, World War II and Korean War veterans became retroactively eligible for the Navy Combat Action Ribbon by Public Law 106-65 on Oct. 5, 1999, which permitted the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) to award the Combat Action Ribbon to a member of the Navy or Marine Corps for participation in ground or surface combat during any period on or after December 7, 1941, and or before March 1, 1961, if the Secretary determines that the member has not been previously recognized in an appropriate manner for such participation. Two specific blocks of time were later designated by then SECNAV Danzig: Dec. 7, 1941—Apr. 14, 1946 (World War II) & June 25, 1950—July 27, 1954 (Korean War)
- Award inquiries
Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard veterans are advised to submit eligibility requests etc. to each of their respective branches in regard to the Navy Combat Action Ribbon or additional awards of this award.
Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon
The Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon (CGCAR) was established by the approval of the Secretary of Homeland Security on July 16, 2008 in ALCOAST 361/08. The Coast Guard version of the CAR is awarded to members of the Coast Guard who have actively participated in a ground or maritime engagement. Satisfactory performance under fire with the enemy is required.
Criteria for the CGCAR also include personnel with direct exposure to the detonation of an improvised explosive device used by an enemy, and for personnel who serve in clandestine/special operations, who are restricted in their ability to return fire, where the risk of enemy fire was great.
The Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon is authorized for:
- Operation Allied Force (Kosovo)
- Operation Desert Storm
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
Other minor operations and specific actions are authorized the ribbon as determined by the Commandant of the Coast Guard. Only one award per operation is authorized.
Initially, all other similar military awards from other services were required to be converted to the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon in order to be worn on the Coast Guard uniform, but the policy was modified effective January 1, 2009 to allow wearing the Navy Combat Action Ribbon, Air Force Combat Action Medal, and Army Combat Infantry/Medical/Action Badge for service prior to May 1, 1975 and cannot be converted to the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon.
Additional awards of the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon are denoted by 5⁄16 inch gold/silver stars on the ribbon.
Stolen Valor Act
The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 makes it a federal crime for an individual who, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds himself or herself out to be a recipient of the Medal of Honor and certain other decorations, medals, and badges including the Combat Action Ribbon (the act defines CAR as a "combat badge"). The act also includes the CAR for any other violation concerning all military decorations, medals, or badges which is subject to a heightened penalty of "a fine, imprisonment of up to one year, or both" (except when authorized under regulation made pursuant to law).
- James Stockdale - Medal of Honor recipient
- Bob Kerrey - U.S. Senator and Medal of Honor recipient
- Secretary of State John Kerry
- James F. McNulty - Rear Admiral
- Chris Kyle - Navy SEAL - Sniper
- Michael P. Murphy - Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient
- Colonel Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. - Medal of Honor recipient
- Colonel Wesley L. Fox - Medal of Honor recipient
- Sergeant Dakota Meyer - Medal of Honor recipient
- Corporal Kyle Carpenter - Medal of Honor recipient
- Staff Sergeant R. Lee Ermey - actor
- Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island - Bernard Jackvony
- Ron Kovic
- Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North
- Jim Webb - U.S. Senator
- Lieutenant Colonel Rob Riggle - Comedian, Actor
- Captain James P. Connolly - Comedian, Actor
In popular culture
- In the 1986 movie Heartbreak Ridge, Clint Eastwood's character, Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway, wears the Combat Action Ribbon on his dress blue uniform.
- In the 1992 movie A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson's character, Colonel Nathan Jessup, wears the Combat Action Ribbon on his service dress uniform.
- SECNAVINST 1650.1H
- "MARADMIN 038/13". Archived from the original on January 31, 2016.
- Pub.L. 106–65 Oct. 5, 1999, STAT.588, G, Sec.564, "Retroactive Award of the Navy Combat Action Ribbon"
- DOD Press Release, March 21, 2000, Retroactive Combat Action Ribbon  Retrieved May 13, 2015
- Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon @ Foxfall medals  Retrieved May 13, 2015[better source needed]
- Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon – Official Coast Guard All Hands blog[dead link]
- congress.gov, Summary H.R.258-Stolen Valor Act of 2013  Retrieved May 16, 2015
- Stolen Valor Act of 2013, Pub.L. 113–12, Amended