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Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oakleaf-3dSilver oakleaf-3d
Bronze and Silver Oak Leaf Clusters
Awarded by United States
Type Ribbon device
Awarded for Worn to denote subsequent decorations and awards.[1]
Status Currently in use
Not to be confused with the oak leaf rank insignia of a Major or Lieutenant Colonel

An oak leaf cluster is a miniature metal device worn by members of the seven uniformed services of the United States on medals and ribbons issued by the United States Army, Air Force, and Department of Defense to denote subsequent decorations and awards.[2] It is bronze or silver in appearance, formed as a twig of four oak leaves with three acorns on the stem. The bronze oak leaf cluster represents one additional award, while the silver oak leaf cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze oak leaf clusters.[3]

Wear and examplesEdit

Oak leaf clusters are worn with the stems of the leaves pointing to the wearer’s right. For medals, 13/32 inch oak leaf clusters are worn on the medal's suspension ribbon. If four oak leaf clusters are worn on the suspension ribbon, the fourth is placed above the middle one in the row of three.[3] For service ribbons, 5/16 inch oak leaf clusters are worn, with no more than four oak leaf clusters being worn side-by-side.[3][4] If the number of authorized oak leaf clusters exceeds four, a second ribbon is authorized for wear and is worn after the first ribbon.[3] The second ribbon counts as one additional award, after which more leaf clusters may be added to the second ribbon. If future awards reduce the number of oak leaf clusters worn on the first ribbon due to bronze oak leaf clusters being replaced by a silver oak leaf cluster, the second ribbon is removed and the appropriate number of devices is placed on the first ribbon.[3] The sequence of bronze and silver oak leaf clusters for the first through twenty-first awards of an Army Commendation Medal would be as follows:

First award Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Second award
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Third award
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Fourth award
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Fifth award
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Sixth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Seventh award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Eighth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Ninth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Tenth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Eleventh award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Twelfth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Thirteenth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Fourteenth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Fifteenth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Sixteenth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Seventeenth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Eighteenth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Nineteenth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Twentieth award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Twenty-first award
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Silver oakleaf-3d
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg

Decorations and awardsEdit

When authorized, oak leaf clusters may be worn on United States Army, Air Force, and Department of Defense decorations and awards issued to the following seven uniformed services: the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Army personnel[5] Air Force personnel[6] Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, PHS, and NOAA personnel[7][8][9][10]
Distinguished Service Cross and Air Force Cross Distinguished Service Cross and Air Force Cross Distinguished Service Cross and Air Force Cross
Defense Distinguished Service Medal Defense Distinguished Service Medal Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Service Medal and Air Force Distinguished Service Medal Distinguished Service Medal and Air Force Distinguished Service Medal Distinguished Service Medal and Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross Distinguished Flying Cross
Soldier's Medal and Airman's Medal Soldier's Medal and Airman's Medal Soldier's Medal and Airman's Medal
Bronze Star Medal Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart Purple Heart
Defense Meritorious Service Medal Defense Meritorious Service Medal Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal
Aerial Achievement Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army and Air Force Commendation Medal Army and Air Force Commendation Medal Army and Air Force Commendation Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal Joint Service Achievement Medal Joint Service Achievement Medal
Army and Air Force Achievement Medal Army and Air Force Achievement Medal Army and Air Force Achievement Medal
Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal Air Force Good Conduct Medal
Air Force Longevity Service Award
Overseas Service Ribbon (long and short tours)
Presidential Unit Citation Presidential Unit Citation
Joint Meritorious Unit Award Joint Meritorious Unit Award Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Valorous Unit Award Gallant Unit Citation
Meritorious Unit Commendation Meritorious Unit Award
Superior Unit Award Outstanding Unit Award
Organizational Excellence Award
Air Force NCO PME Graduate Ribbon
Air Force Training Ribbon

Except for the Air Medal, unique decorations issued by the Army or Air Force, and those decorations and awards issued by the Department of Defense, the other uniformed services use 5/16 inch stars to indicate subsequent awards. A gold 5/16 inch star is equivalent to a bronze oak leaf cluster, while a silver 5/16 inch star is equivalent to a silver oak leaf cluster.[11] While the Air Force uses oak leaf clusters for the Air Medal, since the Vietnam War the Army has used 3/16 inch bronze Arabic numerals to denote subsequent awards, in which case the ribbon denotes the first award and numerals starting with the numeral "2" denote additional awards.[12]

Other nationsEdit

In other nations, oak leaf clusters are also used as symbols for various awards and decorations. In Germany, the German oak is the national tree of Germany, thus oak leaves are a prominent symbol on most German military orders. During World War II, the Knight's Cross of the German Iron Cross could be awarded with the additional distinction of oak leaves (mit Eichenlaub). Of the 7,313 awards of the Knight's Cross, only 882 received oak leaves. After World War II, Iron Crosses awarded previously could be worn by the recipient if the swastika was replaced by oak leaves. The Bundeswehr awards the Cross of Honour for Bravery for extraordinary bravery. The Cross of Honour for Bravery differs from the Badge of Honour by an adornment in the shape of stylized double oak leaves.[13] Furthermore, it was featured on the Pfennig in Germany and since the introduction of the euro in 2001 it is used on the obverse side of the German euro coinage. In earlier times, the Pour le Mérite, the highest military order in the Kingdom of Prussia, could also be awarded with oak leaves. A civil version of the order, for accomplishments in the arts and sciences, still exists in the Federal Republic of Germany.

In Commonwealth countries, a bronze oak leaf signifies a Mention in Despatches, and is worn as a gallantry award in its own right, rather than to signify multiple instances of campaign service. The Commonwealth equivalent of a United States oak leaf cluster is a medal bar worn with a campaign medal.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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