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Combat Action Ribbon
Combat Action Ribbon

USCG 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
Type Ribbon (Decoration)
Eligibility Active participation of ground or surface combat on or after December 7, 1941
Awarded for Actively engaged in ground combat with an enemy of the United States.
Status Current issue
Established Dept. of the Navy - February 17, 1969
U.S. Coast Guard - July 16, 2008
Next (higher) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon
Related Air Force Combat Action Medal
Army Combat Action Badge

The Combat Action Ribbon (CAR) is a personal decoration of the United States Department of the Navy and U.S. Coast Guard that may be awarded to those who, in any grade including and below that of a Captain in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard (or Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps), have actively participated in ground or surface combat.

Additional awards of the Combat Action Ribbon are denoted by gold and silver 5/16 inch stars.

U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps[]

The Combat Action Ribbon was established during the Vietnam War by Secretary of the Navy Notice (SECNAVNOTE 1650),[1] dated February 17, 1969 with retroactive award to March 1, 1961.

In October 1999 World War II and Korean War Veterans became retroactively eligible for the Combat Action Ribbon by Public Law 106-65—Oct. 5, 1999, 113 STAT.588, G, Sec. 564 (Pub.L. 106–65), "Retroactive Award of the Navy Combat Action Ribbon", permitted the Secretary of the Navy 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 Dec. 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.

Personnel who earned the Combat Infantryman Badge or Combat Medical Badge while a member of the United States Army may be authorized to wear the Combat Action Ribbon upon application to the Department of the Navy. As of May 2005, the United States Army has created a new decoration known as the Combat Action Badge (previously known as the Combat Recognition Ribbon) which is considered the direct Army equivalent to the Combat Action Ribbon, though the CAB is not available to infantry or medical Soldiers who are in combat arms units, and is available to officers at or below the rank of Colonel.

Retroactive awards of the Combat Action Ribbon, for retired, deceased, or discharged personnel, are handled by the Navy Liaison Officer to the National Personnel Records Center.

While any eligible Sailor or Marine may receive the ribbon, SECNAVINST 1650.1H[2] lists units and operations whose members or participants are authorized to wear it.

The Navy/Marine Corps version of the Combat Action Ribbon may be awarded to members of the Coast Guard if they are operating with a Navy or Marine Corps unit.

U.S. Coast Guard[]

The Coast Guard version of the Combat Action Ribbon was created on July 16, 2008 (Coast Guard members who saw combat action prior to this date were awarded the U.S. Navy Combat Action Ribbon, e.g., for combat action in Vietnam).

The criterion for the USCG Combat Action Ribbon is satisfactory performance under enemy fire while actively participating in a ground or maritime engagement.[3]

Criteria 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.

Initially, all other similar awards from other military 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 to allow wear of the Navy/Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon.[4]


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The original article can be found at Combat Action Ribbon and the edit history here.