Authorized foreign decorations of the United States military


Authorized foreign decorations of the United States military

Authorized foreign decorations of the United States military are those military decorations which have been approved for wear by members of the United States armed forces but whose awarding authority is the government of a country other than the United States.

Policy and Determination

The wear of foreign decorations may either be approved on a case-by-case basis or a general order may be declared allowing for blanket approval to all U.S. service members to wear a particular non-U.S. decoration.

The following is a list of foreign decorations which have been approved for wear on United States military uniforms. Such awards are always worn after all United States decorations and international military awards. The list below is by no means comprehensive, but does display the awards which have been bestowed to U.S. service members by the governments of foreign countries.

Awards of Specific Nations

Belgium

*
* Croix de Guerre
*

Belguim decorations were presented mainly during WWII.

Canada

*
*
*
*
*
*

Canadian decorations were mainly awarded during WWI and WWII. The Meritorious Service Cross and Meritorious Service Medal are currently the only Canadian awards still being awarded to US personnel today. Most of those were awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

China

*

Chinese decorations were only rarely awarded to very senior US officers during WWII.

Czechoslovakia / Czech Republic

*
*Czechoslovak War Cross
#
#

Czech Order of the White Lion was only rarely awarded to very senior US officers. The Czechoslovak War Cross a little more commonly awarded to officers, then the Czech Order of the White Lion was, during WWI and WWII.

Estonian

*

Estonian decorations are only rarely awarded to very senior US officers. Most of these are awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

France

*
*
*
*
*Cross of War
#
#
#
*

French decorations were presented to US service members extensivly during WWI and WWII. By far, the Croix de guerre was the most commonly bestowed decoration to United States service members of all ranks.

The National Order of the Legion of Honor, French National Order of Merit and French Military Decoration are the only French medals still being awarded to US personnel today. Most of these are awarded to senior US officers in Europe usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

Germany

*
*
*
*

German decorations have been awarded to United States soldiers beginning as far back as the American Revolution. By the time of the First World War, German decorations had faded from the military memory of the United States and, during the actual conflict where Germany and America were on opposing sides, the wear of any German decoration by an American soldier would have been unthinkable.

The sole authorization of a Nazi decoration to U.S. personnel was in 1938 when the Order of the German Eagle was awarded to a small number of U.S. military personnel who had either served in Germany in a diplomatic posting or who had performed an act of service to the German state. The Order was entered in service records, but was never authorized for display on a United States uniform.

In the 21st century United States military, the German Proficiency and Marksmanship Badges are far more commonly awarded, mainly to U.S. Army and Air Force personnel. The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was last awarded to a US officer in 2003 and is today rarely awarded to only very senior US officers. Most of those were awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

Greece

*

Greek decorations were only rarely awarded to very senior US officers, during WWII.

Hungary

* Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic

Hungarian decorations are only rarely awarded to very senior US officers. Most of those were awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

Italy

*
*
*
*

Italian decorations are only rarely awarded to very senior US officers. The first presentations of Italian decorations to U.S. personnel were made in the months following World War II. This was mainly done to foster a new era of friendly relations between the US and Italy. There have been some rare post-WWII presentations, most of those were awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

Mexico

*

Mexican decorations were mainly presented to very senior US officers during World War II. There have been some rare post-WWII presentations, but these are mainly confined to the senior ranks of the US military.

Morocco

*

The Order of Ouissam Alaouite was awarded mainly to United States military officers who had served on the Operation Torch planning staff during WWII. In the film "Patton", George C. Scott plays then Major General George S. Patton who is awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite at the start of the film. There have been some rare post-WWII presentations, but these are mainly confined to the senior ranks of the US military.

Japan

*
*
*

The first presentations of Japanese decorations to U.S. personnel were made in the months following World War II when the new Japanese government presented several decorations to senior U.S. military officers then in charge of the occupation force garrisoning Japan. This was mainly done to foster a new era of friendly relations between the US and Japan and to recognize the joint and allied nature which the new Japanese Self Defense Force would have with the United States armed forces.

Today Japanese decorations are only awarded to senior US officers in the United States Pacific Command usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

Republic of Korea (South Korea)

* South Korean Samil National Security Medal
* South Korean Cheon-Su National Security Medal
* Korean Presidential Unit Citation
*

Korean decorations were first awarded to U.S. service members during the Korean War. The award of Korean medals in the 21st century is mainly confined to senior U.S. military leaders attached to either USFK or CNFK.

Kuwait

*

The Kuwait Liberation Medal was commonly awarded to all U.S. service members with in-theater service during the Gulf War.

Lithuania

* Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas

Lithuanian decorations are only rarely awarded to very senior US officers. Most of those were awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

Luxembourg

*
*
*

Luxembourg decorations were presented mainly during World War II. There have been some rare post-WWII presentations, but most of those were awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

The Netherlands

*
*
*
*

The Netherlands presented awards to U.S. service members mainly during World War II; the Honorary Sabre was very rarely awarded to very senior US officers. There have been some rare post-WWII presentations, but most of these are were awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

Peru

*

The Order of the Sun was only rarely awarded to very senior US officers during World War II

Philippines

*
*
*
* Philippines Presidential Unit Citation
*
*
*

The Philippine Medal of Valor, Distinguished Conduct Star and Philippine Legion of Honor were only rarely awarded to very senior US officers, during WWII. The Philippine Defense Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal and Philippine Independence Medal were commonly awarded to soldiers and sailors of all ranks during World War II.

Poland

*
*
*
*
*
*

Polish decorations were first presented to U.S. senior military leaders in the aftermath of World War II as a measure of thanking the Allies for liberating Poland from Nazi Germany. In reality, however, the USSR engaged in the physical liberation of this nation with British and American troops having little to no part in actions on the Eastern Front.

When Poland fell behind the Iron Curtain, awards to U.S. service members all but ceased. In the 21st century, with Poland now a member in NATO, awards have resumed to U.S. personnel, but most of those were awarded to the SACEUR usually as "end-of-tour" decorations.

Romania

*
*

Romanian decorations were only rarely awarded to very senior US officers, during WWI and WWII.

Saudi Arabia

*

The Kuwait Liberation Medal was a little less commonly awarded to all U.S. service members, it was awarded only during the dates of 17 January 1991 and 28 February 1991 with in-theater service of the Gulf War.

South Vietnam

Senior Leadership Decorations

* National Order of Vietnam
*

Heroism Decorations

*

Common Decorations

*
*
*

Unit Citations

* Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
*
*

Other Awards
*
*
*
*
*

South Vietnamese decorations, also known as awards of the Republic of Vietnam, were first issued to United States service members beginning around 1964. The Military Merit Medal was awarded solely to enlisted U.S. service members who had been killed in battle, while the National Order and Distinguished Service Order were awarded only to senior U.S. military personnel. The Gallantry Cross and Campaign Medal were commonly awarded to all US personnel and the remainder of the decorations were awarded with different frequency between the U.S. service branches and amongst officer/enlisted personnel.

Soviet Union / Russia

*
*
*

Soviet decorations were only rarely awarded to very senior US officers during WWII. Due to the different ribbon bar sizing between US and USSR decorations, Soviet ribbons were also impractical for daily wear on United States uniforms. In addition, by the 1950s at the start of the Cold War, most US officers who had been awarded such medals during World War II simply choose to stop wearing them.

United Kingdom

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Britain's highest award for gallantry the Victoria Cross has only awarded to one U.S. military member, the U.S. Unknown Soldier was awarded the Victoria Cross, on November 11, 1921.

United Kingdom decorations were awarded extensively to U.S. service members during both the First World War and World War II. The awards such as the Order of the Bath and the Order of the British Empire were reserved mainly for senior U.S. military leaders. The remaining decorations were awarded frequently amongst the entire enlisted and officer corps of the U.S. military. The Distinguished Flying Cross was a common decoration for those Americans attached to the Eagle Squadrons; when some of those personnel transferred back to the United States Army Air Forces after America entered the war, the British DFC became a fairly common site on U.S. uniforms during that time period.

In the 21st century United States military, the awarding of British decorations to U.S. service members is still somewhat common, most often to officers assigned in England or other various capacities with NATO European based defense groups.

Yugoslavia

*

The Order of the White Eagle was only rarely awarded to very senior US officers, during World War II.

References

* "Case Reference Guide for the authorization of military awards and decorations", Military Personnel Records Center; St. Louis, Missouri
* SECNAVINST 1650.1H (Navy Awards Manual)
*AFI 36-2803 (Air Force Awards and Decorations Program)


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