Coast Guard Auxiliary Ribbons: A Comprehensive Guide

Coast Guard Auxiliary Ribbons group

For those who serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, wearing Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons on the uniform is more than a stylish statement. Each ribbon represents a story of dedication, expertise, and service to the maritime community.

Whether you're a newcomer eager to learn about the symbolism behind the ribbons or a seasoned veteran seeking deeper insight, this guide dissects the significance of ribbons, ranging from awards for lifesaving to recognition of crucial training. By understanding the meaning behind these ribbons, we honor the service and commitment of every Coast Guard Auxiliary member.

The Grandeur of the Ribbon Rack

Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons and the racks they create are a canvas of honor, a mosaic of sacrifice and service. For those adorned in the prescribed order of precedence, it speaks volumes to their experience and commitments. Each ribbon detail represents both individual achievements and collective objectives met, making it a symbol of the unyielding spirit that flows across the Coast Guard ranks.

Visit any Coast Guard Auxiliary event, and the first thing you notice about the Coast Guard Auxiliary member is the colorful ribbon racks. Each ribbon has a story to tell, and we are here to decode the narrative of each ribbon – one thread at a time.

Coast Guard Auxiliary Ribbons OSR

Understanding Ribbon Colors and Meanings

In order to understand the significance of the Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons, it is vital to familiarize oneself with the color schemes and what they represent. A ribbon’s color was chosen not just for aesthetics, but to convey a deeper meaning and unifying association with particular values and achievements.

The coveted Auxiliary Commandant Letter of Commendation Ribbon (ACLOC) is the Auxiliary’s equivalent to the Coast Guard’s Commandant Letter of Commendation (CLOC) Ribbon. The award is intended for Auxiliarists serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard or Auxiliary for an act of service resulting in unusual and/or outstanding achievement, whose performance is lesser than that required for the Auxiliary Achievement Medal.

The award can also be used to recognize an Auxiliarist’s service/performance for a special event or project. Commanding officers/Group Commanders, Directors, DVCs of HQ, MLC, ISC or district offices, O-4 and above, can approve the ACLOC. Recommendations are made on the CG-1650 award recommendation form and submitted to the approving official, via the Auxiliarist’s chain of leadership and management.

This one of many Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons is identifiable as Auxiliary ribbon because it has a white stripe down the middle of the ribbon.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Membership Ribbon is one of the Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons given for membership. In this case, the award is presented to any member who completes five cumulative (needs NOT be consecutive) years of Auxiliary membership. The light and dark blue colors represent service on various bodies of water.

Order of Precedence

Every Coast Guard Auxiliary member’s ribbon rack tells a personal history of achievements and milestones. But in what order should these symbols of honor be arrayed? The order of precedence is a guide that ensures each ribbon’s grandeur is best showcased, reflecting the individual’s progress and service to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the nation. Understanding this order is fundamental as it is not just about placement – it is also about pride and respect for the commendation’s worth.

There are more than 30 unique U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons that can be worn by auxiliarists on their uniforms.

coast guard auxiliary ribbons officer

Deeper into the Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons

Beyond the ceremonial color and placement, each of the Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons possesses a rich history – a story of courage in a rescue, leadership in the line of duty, or the relentless pursuit of operational excellence. We explore some of the more popular Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons, the criteria for accolade, and information about the ribbon.

Distinguished Service Medal Ribbon

The Auxiliary Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) recognizes Auxiliarists who distinguish themselves by contributing exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service to the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Coast Guard Auxiliary Distinguished Service Medal is only awarded by the Commandant.

Coast Guard Unit Commendation Ribbon

Auxiliarists are eligible to receive the Coast Guard Unit Commendation and the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation Medals. The award consists of a ribbon only, there are no miniature medals. A flag officer must approve these awards.

To be eligible, an Auxiliarist must have participated directly in at least 50 percent of the action in a single operational incident for which the Coast Guard unit involved received a citation for one of these awards. The operational “O” is attached when authorized. Auxiliarists indicate multiple awards by 5/16-inch gold or silver stars. Specific Auxiliary units awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation are authorized to fly the award pennant for three years after the award.

Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal Ribbon

The Auxiliary Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) is awarded to Auxiliarists who have contributed exceptional meritorious service to the Coast Guard and/or Auxiliary. Auxiliarists who serve in any capacity within the Auxiliary are eligible. The Auxiliary MSM may be awarded by any flag officer. The meritorious performance of duty must have enhanced Auxiliary goals.

This performance must clearly be of a nature much higher than that normally expected, and which has a significant positive effect on the ability of the Coast Guard and/or the Auxiliary to complete its missions and goals.

In Conclusion: Wear with Pride, Serve with Valor

The Coast Guard Auxiliary ribbons are more than just tokens of achievement. They encapsulate the doctrine of selfless service and the embodiment of Coast Guard ideals. To wear these ribbons is to carry on a legacy of maritime stewardship that dates back over two centuries.

The next time you encounter a Coast Guard Auxiliary member, take a moment to observe the ribbons on their uniform. Each ribbon is a statement of their virtue and commitment to duty. It is the collective spirit of these individuals and the stories woven into their ribbon racks that continues to steer the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary on a course of service and excellence.

Coast Guard Auxiliary Ribbons membership

For those who have yet to earn their ribbons, this guide serves as both an inspiration and a roadmap for the extraordinary path that lies ahead, a path rich with opportunities to contribute to the greater good. Whether it’s through operational achievements or community service, each ribbon symbolizes a chapter in the United States’ ongoing maritime chronicle.

To the Coast Guard Auxiliary members, past, present, and future, we salute your service – ribbon by ribbon, story by story. Your dedication serves as a beacon to all those who cherish the sea and the security of our shores. Wear your ribbons with pride, for they not only personify your achievements but also the ideals you uphold. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is an embodiment of commitment and cooperation, and the ribbons adorning its members honor the legacy and future of service at sea.

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