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Author Topic: Military-related question: medals  (Read 488 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Military-related question: medals
« on: January 11, 2013, 11:09:01 AM »
There's one thing that always puzzles when I happen to see American military officers on TV: they all seem to have so many medals! I mean, the medal ribbons on the left-breast side of their uniform jackets: American officers usually have a few square inches of ribbons there. I wonder: how do they get so many awards and medals? I always thought that medals are something soldiers get rarely, in special occassions...

Offline Oniya

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2013, 11:14:18 AM »
If there's a lot of ribbons, etc., they're usually trying to portray the character as being of high rank, with a long and valiant service.  Here's a quick chart of what the various ribbons are, and what you can get them for:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awards_and_decorations_of_the_United_States_military

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2013, 11:29:26 AM »
If you are referring to the rectangles of bars many personnel have or what is cmmonly called "fruit salad" these are service and campaign ribbons representing personal commendations and all engagements the unit to which the military member has been assigned has participated in during the member's tenure.




Offline Oniya

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2013, 11:32:46 AM »
Many of those also have corresponding medals, but most people just wear the ribbon part - saves them from too much clanking when they walk.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2013, 11:37:48 AM »
Yes, that's what I was referring to.

I looked through the ribbons' descriptions... It seems that they aren't necessarily something one gets for doing something truly exceptional, right? Some of them seem to get awarded for rather normal stuff like having simply served some time beyong the Arctic Circle etc. Not all of them are awards of the Medal of Honor caliber...

Offline Silverfyre

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2013, 11:40:20 AM »
The Medal of Honor is the U.S.'s highest military honor.  Not everything has to be such a caliber.  Serving in any theater of war is worthy of a commendation and being shot at for eighteen months straight in the middle of some foreign country where you are not only hated but the enemy is trying to kill you at every turn is worth at least a ribbon (and far much more if you ask me).  Not everything that is awarded in the military has to be "exceptional" like the Metal of Honor.  Our definitions of "exceptional" obviously differ.

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2013, 12:03:55 PM »
My Google-fu is failing me because I don't know the correct terms to use for searching...

Each unit has a history of campaigns and the ribbons for each campaign are displayed for parade purposes affixed to the top of a pole or standard that is carried by the honor guard.  Some of the poles have hundreds of ribbons attached because the unit's existence can date back to pre-Civil War era. 

I've been looking for a picture and can't find one.

Offline Silverfyre

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2013, 12:05:04 PM »

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2013, 12:09:57 PM »
That give some added information about the ribbons, thanks.

What I'm looking for though is a picture of the unit ribbons on display for parade purposes.  A pole, like a flag pole, it topped with at finial from which unit citation ribbons, about 18- 24-inches long, are hung.  This tells the history of the unit's engagements in conflicts since it's formation.  I've seen them in documentaries but can't find an image online to save me.

Think of the Roman army and the emblems they carried with the eagles and such during their triiumphal marches.  This is similar but has a display of ribbons instead.

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2013, 12:12:17 PM »
Yes, that's what I was referring to.

I looked through the ribbons' descriptions... It seems that they aren't necessarily something one gets for doing something truly exceptional, right? Some of them seem to get awarded for rather normal stuff like having simply served some time beyong the Arctic Circle etc. Not all of them are awards of the Medal of Honor caliber...

Exactly - although serving a deployment near the poles, or in any active theater, or occupation, is a job that deserves recognition.  If nothing else, each of those ribbons represents a certain period of time that the officer has dedicated to the service of his or her country.

BeMi - the Wiki link I posted shows depictions of the streamer-type ribbons, just not displayed on an actual standard pole.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 12:13:27 PM by Oniya »

Offline Silverfyre

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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2013, 12:12:27 PM »
Not the best picture I could find but it at least shows the flag and the ribbons.


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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2013, 12:29:51 PM »
Thank you guys.  With the terms you all used I found something.



Though this is not the impressive display I was hoping to find this shows another use of the ribbons awarded to military personnel and the origin of the bars they wear on their dress uniforms. 


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Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2013, 12:31:30 PM »
That's still a very decorated unit.  Happy to have helped.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2013, 12:38:52 PM »
It works like this.. you got ribbons and medals.. the ribbon bar (or fruit salad) is what you typically wear. Be it for duty, going to MOST ceremonies or doing things like 'manning the rails' as you enter/leave port or depart for deployment (Yes, I had one CO that made us wear our 'Class A' dress uniforms flying to/from our det sites. BLEH.. cause nothing is more fun that wearing the Navy Dress Blues all the way to Sciliy)

The medals/ribbons combo is use for certain events (Military funerals come to mind), as well as being designated for other events. I've had to wear the damn mixture for squadron retirements, relocation, military retirements, and a few other events that the coordinators called for them. I personally had a relatively mix with something like 12 medals out of my salad. The reason I say 'damned' because they are a. Expensive to mount when you have more than 4..(because if you have more than 4..they have to GODDAMNED OVERLAP.. so you have to PAY someone to do the damn things). b. The fuckers are DELICATE to the extreme.. I have ruined four sets going through hatchways and bumping to someone.

Most expensive set I ever saw was of a Senior Chief who was a former member of the Teams.. it cost him something like $350 a set. And due to being a senior NCO..had had a second set for his 'jacket' dress uniform as well. And he had some expensive ones.. like the Kuwait liberation medal. (the original GOLD ones)

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Military-related question: medals
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2013, 07:49:47 AM »
Basic guideline is anything important you do can get you a ribbon, really important events like honorable service over so many years or combat actions add medals and then you have flag honors for the unit and patches and the like. A basic rule my father told me the more colorful and shiney the uniform in dress the more important the person is to the service and the more respect they are due even if they never go over private.

If a man or woman has a purple heart though they deserve the utmost respect they took a combat wound in a hot zone and earned it.