Overseas Service Bar

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Overseas Service Bars
Current Army Service Uniform Overseas Service Bars 4 Years Total

An Overseas Service Bar is an accoutrement on United States Army Army Service Uniform and previously on the Army Green (Class A) and the Army Blue (Dress Blue) uniforms that indicates a soldier has served six months of service in a combat zone.

Overseas Service Bars are displayed as an embroidered gold bar worn horizontally on the right sleeve of the Class A uniform and the Army Service Uniform.[1] Overseas Service Bars are cumulative, in that each bar worn indicates another six-month period. Time spent overseas is also cumulative, meaning one bar could be earned for two separate deployments totaling six months.

The Overseas Service Bars shown here as ‘Korea’ were used as Overseas Service Bars in World War II.

Background[edit]

The original concept of an Overseas Bar began in the First World War with what was known as an Overseas Chevron. An Overseas Chevron was an inverted chevron patch of gold metallic thread on olive drab backing worn on the lower left sleeve on the standard Army dress uniform over the Service Stripes. The chevron was identical to the Wound Chevron which was worn on the opposite right sleeve.

  • Silver Chevron Stateside War Service for 6 months.
  • Gold Chevron Overseas War Service for 6 months.
  • Powder Blue Chevron Overseas War Service for less than 6 months.

Soldiers' Overseas Service was calculated from the day they disembarked in Britain or France. Sailors and Marines who served in the European war zone aboard a ship for 6 months (Shipboard Service) wore their chevron point upwards. If they served ashore, they qualified for the Overseas War Service chevron.

During World War II, the chevron was redesignated as the Overseas Bar and the patch adopted its current design of a horizontal bar. For those who had performed overseas service in both the First and Second World Wars, the Overseas Bar and Chevron were worn simultaneously. In 1953, the Overseas Service Bar had adopted its current name and the patch was now worn on the lower right sleeve, instead of the left.

The Overseas Service Bar is a separate award from the Overseas Service Ribbon, which recognizes overseas service in any location without regard to whether or not the area has been designated a combat zone. Regulations permit receiving both awards for the same qualifying period of service.

Current regulation[edit]

Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, dated 25 May 2017 in Chapter 19, Paragraph 28 states the following:[2]

19-28. Overseas service bars
a. Authorized wearers. Soldiers are authorized to wear one overseas service bars for each 6–month period of active Federal service as a member of a U.S. Service as indicated below. Periods of less than 6 months duration, which otherwise meets the requirements for the award of overseas service bars, may be combined by adding the number of months to determine creditable service toward the total number of overseas service bars authorized. Listed beginning dates and ending dates are inclusive. The months of arrival to, and departure from the designated area are counted as whole months.
(1) Outside CONUS, between 7 December 1941 and 2 September 1946. In computing overseas service, Alaska is considered outside CONUS. An overseas service bar is not authorized for a fraction of a 6–month period.
(2) Korea, between 27 June 1950 and 27 July 1954. Credit toward an overseas service bar is authorized for each month of active Federal service as a member of the U.S. Army serving in the designated hostile fire area in Korea between 1 April 1968 and 31 August 1973. The months of arrival to, and departure from the hostile fire pay area are counted as whole months. If a Soldier receives a month of hostile fire pay for a period(s) of service in Korea, then the Soldier may also receive credit for a corresponding month towards award of an overseas service bar.
(3) Vietnam, between 1 July 1958 and 28 March 1973. The months of arrival to, and departure from Vietnam are counted as whole months for credit toward the overseas service bar. If a Soldier receives a month of hostile fire pay for a period(s) of TDY service in Vietnam, then the Soldier may also receive credit for a corresponding month towards award of an overseas service bar.
(4) The Dominican Republic, between 29 April 1965 and 21 September 1966. The months of arrival to, and departure from the Dominican Republic are counted as whole months.
(5) Laos, between 1 January 1966 and 28 March 1973. The months of arrival to, and departure from Laos are counted as whole months.
(6) Cambodia between 1 January 1971 and 28 March 1973. Personnel must qualify for hostile fire pay to receive credit for an overseas service bar. The months of arrival to, and departure from the hostile fire pay area are counted as whole months.
(7) Lebanon, between 6 August 1983 and 24 April 1984, for the two units listed in paragraph 19–17b(6). The months of arrival to, and departure from Lebanon are counted as whole months.
(8) The Persian Gulf between 27 July 1987 and 1 August 1990, for Operation Earnest Will. The months of arrival to, and departure from the Persian Gulf are counted as whole months.
(9) The Persian Gulf between 17 January 1991 and 31 August 1993, for Operation Desert Storm. The months of arrival to, and departure from the Persian Gulf are counted as whole months.
(10) El Salvador, between 1 January 1981 and 1 February 1992. The months of arrival to, and departure from El Salvador are counted as whole months.
(11) Somalia, between 5 December 1992 and 31 March 1995. The months of arrival to, and departure from Somalia are counted as whole months.
(12) Participation in OEF, in the CENTCOM area of operations, and under the control of the Combatant Commander, CENTCOM, between 11 September 2001 and 31 December 2014; OEF-Philippines, in the Philippines, between 19 September 2001 and 31 December 2014; OEF-Horn of Africa, in Djibouti, between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2014. The months of arrival to, and departure from the Philippines, Djibouti, or the CENTCOM area of operations are counted as whole months.
(13) Participation in OIF, in the CENTCOM area of operations, and under the control of the Combatant Commander, CENTCOM, between 19 March 2003 and 31 August 2010. The months of arrival to, and departure from the CENTCOM area of operations are counted as whole months.
(14) Participation in OND in the CENTCOM area of operations, and under the control of the Combatant Commander, CENTCOM, between 1 September 2010 and 31 December 2011. The months of arrival to, and departure from the CENTCOM area of operations are counted as whole months.
(15) Participation in OIR, in the CENTCOM area of operations, and under the control of the Combatant Commander, CENTCOM, between 15 June 2014 and a date to be determined. The months of arrival to, and departure from the CENTCOM area of operations are counted as whole months.
(16) Participation in OFS, in the CENTCOM area of operations, and under the control of the Combatant Commander, CENTCOM, or Djibouti, AFRICOM, between 1 January 2015 and a date to be determined. The months of arrival to, and departure from Djibouti or the CENTCOM area of operations are counted as whole months.
b. How worn. See DA Pam 670–1.

Notable officers[edit]

  • General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was awarded a total of 14 overseas service bars - 3 for World War I, 9 for World War II and 2 for the Korean War. (Strictly speaking, General MacArthur received one silver chevron for 6 months of stateside service and three gold chevrons for 18 months of overseas service during World War I. As the overseas chevrons are equivalent to overseas service bars, they are counted toward the total above.) He was one of a very few United States service members who was not a prisoner of war to spend the entirety of World War II overseas.
  • General William Westmoreland was awarded a total of 16 overseas service bars - 6 for World War II, 2 for Korea and 8 for Vietnam.
  • Colonel Floyd James Thompson, a Green Beret, served a total of 9 years and 3 months in Vietnam with all but 3 months served as a prisoner of war. He was a awarded a total of 18 overseas service bars. This is probably the highest number of overseas service bars awarded to an individual.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Department of the Army. Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia Washington, DC: 2014. Chapter 21, Paragraph 29.
  2. ^ Army Regulation 670-1; Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia (PDF). Headquarters, Department of the Army. 25 May 2017. pp. 43–44. Retrieved 21 July 2018.