Medal 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.

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


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).[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  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 linksEdit

  • Danish service ribbons