Medal ribbon

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A United States Army Reserve general's service ribbons
A purple rectangle with thin white edges
The U.S. Purple Heart's service ribbon

A medal ribbon, service ribbon or ribbon bar is a small ribbon, mounted on a small metal bar equipped with an attaching device, which is generally issued for wear in place of a medal when it is not appropriate to wear the actual medal.[1] Each country's government has its own rules on what ribbons can be worn in what circumstances and in which order. This is usually defined in an official document and is called "the order of precedence" or "the order of wearing." In some countries (particularly in North America and in Israel), some awards are "ribbon only," having no associated medal.


According to the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the U.S. military's standard size for a ribbon bar is 1+38 inches (35 mm) wide, 38 inch (9.5 mm) tall, with a thickness of 0.8 mm.[2]

The service ribbon for a specific medal is usually identical to the suspension ribbon on the medal. For example, the suspension and service ribbon for the U.S. government's Purple Heart medal is purple with a white vertical stripe at each end (see photo).

However, there are some military awards that do not have a suspension ribbon, but have an authorized ribbon and unit award emblem. The Soviet Order of Victory is a badge that was worn on the military parade uniform. However, a ribbon bar representing the Order of Victory was worn on a military field uniform.


Ribbon bars come in a variety of colors. In the case of the U.S. government, it maintains a specific list of colors used on its ribbons, based on the Pantone Matching System and Federal Standard 595 color systems:

Colors used on U.S. military ribbons[3]
Name[3] Color[3] RGB value[3] Pantone MS value[3]
Air Force Yellow   255,205,0 116
Apple Red   213,0,50 119
Army Green (Uniform)   40,71,52 553
Aspic Green   191,184,0 397
Black   0,0,0 5445
Blue HQ   183,201,211 289
Blue HX   12,35,64 3105
Blue Turquoise   104,210,223 542
Bluebird   123,175,212 542
Bottle Green   17,87,64 343
Brick Red   134,38,51 202
Brittany Blue   163,199,210 551
Bronze   139,111,78 874
Brown   96,61,32 161
Buff   185,151,91 465
Burnt Orange   227,82,5 166
Cannes Blue   123,175,212 542
Cardinal Red   186,12,47 200
Chamois   242,199,92 141
Cobalt Blue   0,32,91 281
Corsaire Blue   0,45,114 288
Crimson   165,0,80 220
Dark Blue   0,38,58 539
Eggshell   221,203,164 468
Emerald   100,167,11 369
Flag Blue   4,30,66 282
Flame Red   255,88,93 178
Forget-Me-Not Blue   154,219,232 304
Garnet   111,38,61 209
Gherkin Green   74,119,41 364
Gold   133,113,77 872
Gold Brown   184,97,37 471
Golden Orange   255,158,27 1375
Golden Yellow   255,205,0 116
Goldenlight   255,198,88 135
Graphite Blue   0,38,58 539
Grebe Gray   84,88,90 425
Green   33,87,50 357
Grotto Blue   0,193,213 3115
Imperial Blue   0,61,165 293
Imperial Purple   152,29,151 254
Irish Green   0,132,61 348
Ivory   255,255,255
Jasmine   253,210,110 134
Khaki   176,170,126 452
Lemon Yellow   251,221,64 114
Light Blue   91,127,149 5415
Light Green   146,172,160 5575
MC Antique White   233,223,151 461
Mahogany   127,48,53 491
Marine Corps Scarlet   228,0,43 185
Maroon   87,41,50 504
Midnight Blue   0,38,58 593
Mintleaf   164,214,94 367
Mosstone Green   122,154,1 377
Myrtle Green   0,122,51 356
Natural   202,199,167 454
Navy Blue #1   4,30,66 282
Navy Blue #2   4,30,66 282
Nugget Gold   255,209,0 109
Old Blue   162,170,173 429
Old China Blue   123,175,212 542
Old Glory Blue   1,33,105 280
Old Glory Red   186,12,47 200
Old Gold   132,117,78 871
Olive   78,91,49 574
Olive Drab   105,91,36 455
Orange   252,76,2 1655
Oriental Blue   0,114,206 285
Oriole Orange   229,114,0 152
Ostende Blue   123,175,212 542
Paprica   250,70,22 172
Parrot Blue   136,219,223 318
Peacock Blue   0,146,188 313
Primitive Green   0,154,68 347
Prophet Green   67,176,42 361
Purple   95,37,159 267
Putty   178,168,162 407
Rally Red   111,38,61 209
River Blue   0,111,98 562
Scarlet   186,12,47 200
Silver Gray   158,162,162 422
Smoke   84,88,90 425
Soldier Red   111,38,61 209
Spicebrown   115,56,29 168
Spring Green   197,232,108 374
Spruce Green   0,76,69 3302
Star Yellow   253,218,36 115
Steel   124,135,142 430
Tarragon Green   137,144,100 5773
Teal Blue   0,62,81 3035
Terra Cotta   150,56,33 174
Toast   155,90,26 154
Ultramarine Blue   0,20,137 Reflex Blue
Victory Medal Blue #1   0,75,135 301
Victory Medal Blue #2   0,75,135 301
White   255,255,255
Yale Blue   0,114,206 285
Yellow   255,199,44 123


There is a variety of constructions of service ribbons. In some countries, service ribbons are mounted on a "pin backing", which can be pushed through the fabric of a uniform and secured, with fasteners, on the inside edge. These ribbons can be individually secured and then lined up, or they can be all mounted on to a single fastener. After the Second World War, it was common for all ribbons to be mounted on a single metal bar and worn in a manner similar to a brooch. Other methods of wearing have included physically sewing each service ribbon onto the uniform garments.


"Orders of wearing" define which ribbons may be worn on which types of uniform in which positions under which circumstances. For example, miniature medals on dinner dress, full medals on parade dress, ribbons on dress shirts, but no decorations on combat dress and working clothing. Some countries (such as Cuba) maintain a standard practice of wearing full service ribbons on combat utility clothing. Others strictly prohibit this. These regulations are generally similar to the regulations regarding display of rank insignia and regulations regarding saluting of more senior ranks. The reasoning for such regulations is to prevent these displays from enabling opposing forces to easily identify persons of higher rank and therefore aid them in choosing targets which will have a larger impact on the battlefield. In times of war, it is not uncommon for commanders and other high value individuals to wear no markings on their uniforms and wear clothing and insignia of a lower ranking soldier.

Service medals and ribbons are generally worn in rows on the left side of the chest. In certain commemorative or memorial circumstances, a relative may wear the medals or ribbons of a dead relative on the right side of the chest. Medals and ribbons not specifically mentioned in the "Order of wear" are also generally worn on the right side of the chest. Sequencing of the ribbons depends on each country's regulations. In the United States, for example, those with the highest status—typically awarded for heroism or distinguished service—are placed at the top of the display, while foreign decorations (when allowed) are last in the bottom rows. When medals are worn (typically on the left side of a shirt or jacket), ribbons with no corresponding medals are worn on the right side.


The study, history and collection of ribbons, among other military decorations, is known as phaleristics (sometimes spelled faleristics by users of U.S. English).

Notable examples[edit]


Victoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Korea Medal.svg
United Nations Service Medal Korea ribbon.svg General Service Medal 1962 BAR.svg Vietnam Medal BAR.svg Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 ribbon.png
UK Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg UK Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg AUS Centenary Medal ribbon.svg
DFSM with Rosette x 2.png National Medal (Australia) ribbon.jpg Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Meritorious Service Medal (UK).png
Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct - Army (UK) ribbon.png Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg Silver Star ribbon.svg Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star (South Vietnam).png
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg General Service Medal (Oman).png Endurance Medal (Al-Sumood) (Oman).png Pingat Jasa Malaysia ribbon.png
OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png
Military Cross ribbon.png Order of St John (UK) ribbon -vector.svg Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Vietnam Medal BAR.svg
Australian Active Service Medal ribbon.png INTERFET Medal ribbon.png Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 ribbon.png AUS Centenary Medal ribbon.svg
DFSM with Fed Star.png National Medal (Australia) ribbon.jpg Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg
New Zealand Order of Merit ribbon.svg US Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png Tong-il Medal (South Korea) ribbon.png Legion Honneur Officier ribbon.svg
PRT Order of Prince Henry - Grand Cross BAR.svg Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Tentera) ribbon.png Order of Timor-Leste.png Order of St. Gregory the Great.png


Canadian Jump Wings
Order of Canada (OC) ribbon bar.pngCAN Order of Military Merit Commander and Officer.png
Order of St John (UK) ribbon -vector.svgGrand Officer National Order of Québec Undress ribbon.pngCAN Meritorious Service Cross (military division) ribbon.svg
Special Service Medal Ribbon.pngCPSM Ribbon.pngUNOMUR Medal bar.gif
UNAMIR Medal bar.svg125canada ribbon.pngUK Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svgCD-ribbon and 2 bars.pngUs legion of merit officer rib.png


Order of the Dannebrog S.K.svg DK Haederstegn for god tjeneste.svgRESOFF ASS R.png
DKFredsprismedalje Ribbon.pngOrdre national du Merite GO ribbon.svgEST Order of the Cross of the Eagle 1st Class BAR.pngUS Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png
Comm Medal for Adv Lv Mem NATO.pngUNFICYP Medal bar.svgONZ Medal w Służbie Pokoju UNPROFOR BAR.svgVierdaagse Medal Bar.png




Sinai Libration.jpg Militarycourage.jpg Militaryduty.jpg Militaryduty.jpg

Trainingdeco.jpg Trainingdeco.jpg DestinServ.jpg Longevandexemp.jpg

OctWar-SilverJubileeOct.jpg Militarydec5.jpg Kuwaitlibr.jpg Training Decoration.jpg

Goldenjubile23.jpg Medaldec.jpg OctWar-SilverJubileeOct.jpg Goldenjubile23.jpg

Sinai Libration.jpg Militarydec4.jpg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon.svg Militarydec2.jpg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon.svg


DEU EK 2Kl 1939Clasp BAR.svg D-PRU Royal Hohenzollern Order swords war-ribbon BAR.svg 436px ribbon bar of the General Honor Decoration.svg Friedrich-August Cross - military (Oldenburg) - ribbon bar.png

D-SAX Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden BAR.svg 432px ribbon bar of the Hanseatic Cross from Bremen.svg AUT KuK Kriegsbande BAR.svg DEU Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges Frontkaempfer BAR.svg

D-HAN-B-Order Henry Lion BAR.png DEU WH-Dienstauszeichnung (Heer-KM) 18Jahre BAR.svg Anschluss Medal Bar.PNG Memel Medal Bar.PNG


IND Raksha Medal Ribbon.svg
IND Sangram Medal Ribbon.svg IND Sainya Seva Medal Ribbon.svg Indian Independence medal 1947.svg IND 25th Anniversary Independence medal.svg
IND 20YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg IND 9YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg



IRIA Zulfaqar Ribbon.svg Order of Fat'h (1st Class).svg Order of Fat'h (2nd Class).svg Order of Fat'h (3rd Class).svg


Zrm.svg Zrm.svg Medal of Distinguished Service.svg Zrm.svg Zrm.svg

Six day war ribbon.svg Hatasharibon.svg Yomkippurribon.svg Lebanon war ribbon.svg US Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png


Ribon darjah kebesaran TSMY Nov 2019.png


Ibrahim Babangida, President of Nigeria and Chief of Army Staff

Order of the Federal Republic (military) - Nigeria - ribbon bar.gif Defence Service Medal (Nigeria 1967-1970) - ribbon bar.png Forces Service Star (Nigeria) - ribbon bar.png

General Service Medal (Nigeria) - ribbon bar.png National Service Medal (Nigeria 1966-1970) - ribbon bar.png Order of the Federal Republic (military) - Nigeria - ribbon bar.gif Order of the Bath UK ribbon.svg


Krigskorset med 3 sverd.svg St Olavs Orden kommandør stripe.svg Politiets hederskors stripe.svg Forsvarets hederskors stripe.svg

Forsvarsmedaljen med laurbærgren stripe.svg Deltagermedaljen med rosett stripe.svg Haakon VIIs 70-årsmedalje stripe.svg Kongens erindringsmedalje 1940-1945 stripe.svg

Medal of Freedom stripe sølvpalme.svg USSOCOM Medal BAR.svg POL Medal Pro Memoria BAR.png DSO stripe.svg

39-45 Star BAR.svg Defence Medal BAR.svg Norges forsvarsforenings hederstegn stripe.svg St. Hallvard-medaljen.png


Philippines Presidential Unit Citation.png PHL Martial Law Unit Citation.png PHL People Power I Unit Citation.png PHL People Power II Unit Citation.png

PHL Legion of Honor - Chief Commander BAR.png Panglima Gagah Angkatan Tentera (Malaysia).png PHL Distinguished Service Star BAR.svg

PHL Gold Cross.png Silver Cross (Philippines) Ribbon.png PHL Bronze Cross.gif PHL Military Merit Medal.gif

PHL Military Commendation.gif PHL Silver Wing Medal ribbon bar.png PHL Gawad Sa Kaunlaran.gif PHL Sagisag Ulirang Kawal.gif

PHL Military Civic Action Medal.gif Parangal sa Kapanalig ng Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas.jpg AFP Long Service Medal.gif Anti-dissidence Campaign Medal.png

Luzon Anti-dissidence Campaign Medal.png Mindanao Anti-dissidence Campaign Medal.png Jolo Campaign Medal.png Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Operations Ribbon.gif

United Kingdom[edit]

The Right Honourable Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS↵↵↵

Order of the Garter UK ribbon.svg Order of the Bath UK ribbon.svg Order of Merit (Commonwealth realms) ribbon.svg 1000px ribbon bar of the Order of Maria Anna.svg

Order of the Indian Empire Ribbon.svg Royal Victorian Order ribbon sm.jpg Dso-ribbon.png Order of St John (UK) ribbon -vector.svg

British War Medal BAR.svg World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg 39-45 Star BAR.svg Atlantic Star BAR.svg

Africa Star BAR.svg Burma Star BAR.svg Italy Star BAR.svg Defence Medal BAR.svg

War Medal 39-45 w MID BAR.svg Naval General Service Medal 1915 BAR.svg King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.svg King George V Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg

GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png UK Queen EII Coronation Medal ribbon.svg UK Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg Indian Independence medal 1947.svg

Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg US Legion of Merit Chief Commander ribbon.png Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Greek War Cross 1940 3rd class ribbon.png

Order of George I Silver Cross ribbon.PNG Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg

Order of the Cloud and Banner 1st.gif PRT Military Order of Aviz - Grand Cross BAR.svg Ord.Neth.Lion.jpg Most Refulgent Order of the Star of Nepal.PNG

POL Polonia Restituta Kawalerski BAR.svg DNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png Order of the Star of Romania - Ribbon bar.svg ESP Isabella Catholic Order GC.svg

United States[edit]

Commander Richard Marcinko's ribbon rack worn in the standard U.S. Navy style, rows of three with no spacing or staggering.

In the U.S. military, the different federal uniformed services have different methods of wearing ribbon bars on uniforms. In the U.S. Navy, they are worn in rows of three with no staggering or spacing between rows (with the exception of the top row, which may be staggered to the wearer's left if covered by a lapel). For U.S. Navy members who have three or more ribbons, they can elect to wear only their three highest-ranked ones instead of all of them and if their top three ribbons are obscured by a lapel, they can stagger the top row. In the U.S. Marine Corps, they can be worn in rows of three or four, with optional staggering and can be spaced between rows. In the U.S. Army, they can be worn staggered with spacing in between rows. A U.S. serviceman's complete ribbon display is known by a variety of nicknames. It can be referred to colloquially as a "ribbon rack" or "rack" for short, or "fruit salad" or a "salad bar."

General George S. Patton's ribbon bars
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Navy Distinguished Service ribbon.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg width= Silver Lifesaving Medal ribbon.svg
Mexican Border Service Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
American Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Ordre de Léopold GO ribbon.svgUK MID 1920-94.svg Croix de Guerre 1940-1945 with palm (Belgium) - ribbon bar.png
Legion Honneur GO ribbon.svg Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 ribbon.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
Croix de guerre 1939–1945 stripe bronsepalme.svg Medaille de la France Liberee.svg LUX Ordre de Mérite civil et militaire d'Adolphe de Nassau - Grand-croix BAR.svg LUX Croix de Guerre ribbon.svg
Ordre de l'Ouissam Alaouite GC ribbon (Maroc).svg Order of Kutuzov 1 Ribbon.svg Order of the Bath UK ribbon.svg OBE Military ribbon.svg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Army Regulation 600-8-22, 2006, P. 72&73, 6--2 Service ribbons, a.
  2. ^ Defense Logistics Agency (2015). "MIL-DTL-11589". Defense Logistics Agency.
  3. ^ a b c d e "COLOR CONVERSION LIST-8/14/95". Archived from the original on December 7, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

External links[edit]