How to Put on U.S. Army Ribbons & Awards

Proper arrangement is important when displaying Army awards.

Displaying awards and decorations earned during service can be a source of great pride for many soldiers in the United States Army. In order to display these awards, however, soldiers should adhere to a specific set of regulations governing the wear of ribbons and medals set forth by Army Regulation (AR) 670-1 in Chapter 29. These regulations spell out exactly which awards should be worn on different uniforms and exactly how they should be displayed in order to present a uniform appearance throughout the Army.

Determine which uniform will be worn. Each uniform and its designed use is outlined in AR 670-1 and each soldier should wear the proper uniform depending on the event. The type of uniform worn greatly effects the manner in which decorations are displayed.

Gather all awards to be worn on the chosen uniform and order them according to precedence. AR 670-1 outlines a specific order in which awards should be worn. The most important awards should be worn at the top of an arrangement and from right to left. The order of importance is led by the Medal of Honor and other U.S. military decorations and followed by unit awards, non-military awards, campaign and service awards, non-military unit awards and other foreign awards.

Slide each ribbon on to the ribbon mount, if applicable, according to order of precedence. Ribbons are like an abbreviated symbol of a full-sized medal and are subject to the same rules as other awards. No more than four ribbons are allowed on each row. If more than four are worn, soldiers should start a second, third or even fourth row. The top row should always have the fewest amount of ribbons. The ribbon mount should be pinned centered over the left breast pocket on the uniform shirt.

Pin each medal on to the left breast of the uniform if wearing full-sized awards. Full-sized medals are generally worn with service dress uniforms for more formal, ceremonial occasions. The ribbon adorning the top of the medal should be centered above the breast pocket. If soldiers need to wear more than four medals, they should create additional rows with the ribbons at the top of each medal spaced 1/8 of an inch above its preceding row. It is perfectly acceptable for one row of ribbons to hang down and partially overlap the other. All medals should be worn according to their order of precedence.

Attach miniature medals to the left breast when prescribed for wear. Miniature medals are a scaled down version of full sized medals and should be worn with mess dress uniforms prescribed for dinner parties and other evening events. Miniature medals are worn on a mount that is no longer than 2 3/4 inches wide and should be mounted in order of precedence and in multiple rows if necessary. Otherwise, miniature medals should be worn in the same manner as full-sized ribbons.

Marshall Moore is a freelance sports writer with three years of experience in the daily newspaper industry and has won multiple awards from the Kansas Press Association for his writing and reporting. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007 with a degree in journalism.