"FREQUENTLY ASKED  QUESTIONS
ABOUT AWARDS"

_________________
John Lindgren

 

 

 

 

 

I am writing this for the families of the 503d Troopers who have found his medals, and are wondering what they are for.  The topic of medals, ribbons and appurtenances can fill several books, so this can only be considered a primer.

 

4In what order are a 503d Trooper's ribbons and badges arranged?  

 

4I inherited my dad's wings. What is the star on it for? 

 

4Only one star? But he jumped more than once! 

 

4What are the standard medals a Trooper might have been awarded?

 

4What do the other devices on his medals and badges mean? 

 
In what order are a 503d trooper's ribbons and badges arranged? I don't think the medal arrangement should pose any great problem for someone refurbishing a uniform. In my experience, few current service people  recognize WWII campaign medals much less their proper order when worn.  But let's get it right, shall we?

There are three groups;  awards, campaign medals and foreign decorations. They are worn over the left breast  in that order [from top to bottom and from the wearer's right to left. The awards precedence; DSC, SS, BSM, PH, GCM [Good Conduct Medal]. The modern soldier would recognize awards, of course, since they haven't changed much  - though they have added a few.

The campaign medals, which  follow the awards, and are generally worn in the order they were earned. For instance, my campaign medals follow the history of the 503d, and  in proper order are'  American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific, National Defense Service, Armed Forces Expedition, WWII Victory, Occupation. Followed by a foreign award;  Philippine Liberation. 

The parachute qualification badge is worn on the left breast centered just above the ribbons. The combat infantryman badge, if one has been awarded,  is worn above the qualification badge.

Those who jumped on Corregidor are authorized one bronze star  on the parachute badge centered on the lines 3/16th of an inch below the canopy's edge.  Similarly, a long term Trooper involved on the Corregidor jump is authorized a bronze arrowhead followed by four bronze stars [for New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon, Southern Philippines] on the Asiatic Pacific campaign medal.

On the right breast a trooper is authorized to wear the Presidential Unit Citation [Corregidor] and to the left of it, the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. The blue stripe on the PPUC must be to the wearer's right.  The presidential citations are authorized to be worn always by 503 members who were on Corregidor. Members assigned to the 503d are authorized to wear both of them only when they are assigned and cannot wear the PUC's when they leave the unit.


      I wouldn't think most folk would know what all the campaign ribbons look like and the easiest way to overcome this shortcoming is to get a free catalogue from <Medals of America> by calling 1-800-308-0849. It is a handsome piece of work with all the medals, ribbons, devices, badges and much else shown in living color with text that tells us what the pictures mean. If you want to brave the Internet, US Military has a series of pages, and so does Medals of America  The US Army has a site on  Ribbon Precedence and one on Rank Insignia - if you have half a day or so to kill you can find THEIR medal display.

   

I inherited my dad's wings. What is the star on it for? 

 

The star is for the combat jump on Corregidor.   The Regimental Combat Team got credit for one only combat jump.  Corregidor, and generally only those in Second and Third Battalion, who jumped  on 16 February 1945 from 0835 to 1325 have attained this official entitlement.

There were two other jumps into combat by the 503d, but neither are officially credited combat jumps.  This is for two interrelated reasons - the 503d, as an independently commanded  Combat Team, lacked a strong presence in the Corridors of Command, and without the lobbying power of  a cabal of officers seeking the recognition of the 503d Team's accomplishment, no timely consideration occurred, and the issue was closed.  Recent attempts to redress the anomaly also failed due to the fact that independent Combat Teams lacked the power to force reconsideration of decisions signed off by General MacArthur.  In declining review, it was said that the jumps were not into landing zones under immediate control of Japanese forces.  This is a dubious reason, given that some of the units involved in the Noemfoor operation arrived amphibiously after the 503d drop, and yet were awarded the bronze arrowhead of a combat assault.  This anomaly can only be explained by their having more powerful friends than the independently commanded 503d.

 

NADZAB

NOEMFOOR

CORREGIDOR

First Bn

x

x

 

Second Bn

x

 

Third Bn

x

x

One  bronze star goes in the middle of  the suspension lines, 3/16th of an inch below the canopy.  (For point of reference, two stars go on  the base of each spread wings.  Three stars has the one in the suspension lines plus  the two on  the wings.)

Answer furnished by John Lindgren, with assistance from Don Abbott,
Tony Sierra, Jack Herzig  &  Paul Whitman

There are NO circumstances where a WWII 503d member could earn more than one bronze service on his parachute badge.

DA G0O 109, dated 26 September 1946 "Units Accredited With Assault Landings"  has one entry at paragraph f; 

"Corregidor Island - 16 February 1945 - 0835 to 1330 hours" designating; 161st Airborne Engineer Battalion, C Company C 161 Airborne Engineer Battalion, 462d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and the 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment as participating in an airborne assault landing by the theater commander. 

It would appear that units landing after February 16, 1945, would not be entitled to wear the bronze arrowhead.

This would include most members of the 1st Battalion  reinforced.

AR 600 - 8 -22,  25 February 1995 is the authority for the award of the bronze service star on the parachute badge and the bronze arrowhead on the Asiatic Pacific Ribbon.

The register [p. 306] shows an assault landing only on February 16, 1945 - meaning no arrowhead is authorized for units coming on the island  after 16 February.

To qualify for a bronze star on the badge ".. Each soldier must physically exit the aircraft.  Should a unit be denied air assault credit, no air assault credit for the purpose of this badge will accrue to the individual soldier." This handily takes care of Nadzab and Noemfoor.


Question 2; Is there any difference in the entitlements between those who jumped and those who came by boat. The answer is above. Not only is the boat member not entitled to a bronze service star on the wings, the regulation clearly shows he is not entitled to an arrowhead. 
 

Answer furnished by John Lindgren

Only one combat star? He jumped more than once! Why? 

I put this question to the powers that be. The regulations, general orders and pamphlet  pertaining to unit awards that I got from the Department of the Army, Military Awards Branch  explains this, and why it is so.    

 Their letter to me dated September 26, 1997 states:

 "...On 20 November 1986 the C/S, Army approved authorization of a bronze service star to the Parachutist Badge [sic] to denote a soldier's participation in a combat jump. Since all elements of  a unit may not have participated in the assault landing .....the bronze service star is awarded only for combat parachute jumps, orders are required to confirm award of  these badges [i.e. bronze stars] "

 [1] War Department General Order 109 dated 26 September 1946 "Units Credited With Assault Landings " is the authority of the award of the bronze service star on the badge for the 503.  The first paragraph states in part;

 "...the units listed ...were designated by their theater commander as having participated in an amphibious or airborne assault landing."

 If there are those who feel the 503d was not given their due, we can look to Douglas MacArthur who had the final say. If he felt the corps or field army commanders' who would determine whether an "assault landing" was made were in error, he could have rejected their recommendations. The schedule's columns shows:-

 [1] Unit; 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment

[2] Campaigns; Leyte, Luzon, New Guinea, Southern Philippines

[3] Distinguished Unit Commendation  16 - 28 Feb 45, WDGO 53 1945

[4] A(ssault) Corregidor Island 16 Feb 45; F (oreign awards) 56 Philippine Presidential Unit Citation  7 Dec 41 - 10 May 42,  or 17 Oct 44 to 4 Jul 45. DAGO 47 - 50.

 The General Order tells it all. In the eyes of the War Department, the 503d made only one assault landing. One and only one star is authorized for wear on the parachute qualification badge for the 503d Corregidor Trooper.  The unfounded but popular belief in some quarters that two other stars are authorized for Nadzab and Noemfoor is incorrect.

One and only one bronze arrowhead is authorized to be worn by  Corregidor veterans on the Asiatic-Pacific Medal. 

Why weren't these two jumps recognized as assault landings? There may have been several higher headquarters involved, but USAFFE agreed to one and only one assault landing for the US Army's first parachute regiment.

To further muddy the waters, War Department General Order 109 - 1946 restricts the Corregidor assault credit to "16 February 1945 from 0835 to 1325" - meaning those 1st Battalion and supporting units that landed on 17 February or after are not authorized to wear the arrowhead device.

 The four bronze service stars are not affected.

 DA Pamphlet "Unit Citation and Campaign Participation Credit Register"  July 1961 and a 1997 DA letter to me show WDGO 109 as a current reference,  meaning its contents are still in force.

 The member's service record should show the campaign credits, but more often than not doesn't record this information. 

While the directives tell us what we WWII veterans are entitled to, since none of us are US Army members we can wear as many stars, arrowheads and medals as we please.  There are those who will do just that. I won't,  for  I believe we owe those who did earn them some respect [the 505 PIR (82d Div) which earned four stars to wear on their wings.] Sporting awards one didn't earn is reprehensible.       

 

One bronze service star may be worn for each campaign;
one silver service star in lieu of five bronze:
  • Philippine Islands -- 7 Dec 1941-10 May 1942
  • Burma, 1942 -- 7 Dec 1941-26 May 1942
  • Central Pacific -- 7 Dec 1941-6 Dec 1943
  • East Indies -- 1 Jan-22 Jul 1942
  • India-Burma -- 2 Apr 1942-28 Jan 1945
  • Air Offensive, Japan -- 17 Apr 1942-2 Sep 1945
  • Aleutian Islands -- 3 Jun 1942-24 Aug 1943
  • China Defensive -- 4 Jul 1942-4 May 1945
  • Papua -- 23 Jul 1942-23 Jan 1943
  • Guadalcanal -- 7 Aug 1942-21 Feb 1943
  • New Guinea -- 24 Jan 1943-31 Dec 1944
  • Northern Solomons -- 22 Feb 1943-21 Nov 1944
  • Eastern Mandates -- 31 Jan-14 Jun 1944
  • Bismarck Archipelago -- 15 Dec 1943-27 Nov 1944
  • Western Pacific -- 15 Jun 1944-2 Sep 1945
  • Leyte -- 17 Oct 1944-1 Jul 1945
  • Luzon -- 15 Dec 1944-4 Jul 1945
  • Central Burma -- 29 Jan-15 Jul 1945
  • Southern Philippines -- 27 Feb-4 Jul 1945
  • Ryukyus -- 26 Mar-2 Jul 1945
  • China Offensive -- 5 May-2 Sep 1945

Ribbon colors decoded:

  • Background; yellow-orange represents the final setting of the sun (symbol of Japanese Imperialism)
  • Center Grouping; red/white/blue represents the United States
  • Left and Right Groupings; red/white represents Japan

 

This is the Asiatic Pacific Medal of a trooper who was not on the Corregidor assault on 16 February 1945 as only those troopers are entitled to a bronze arrowhead as well as the four stars.  The four bronze stars on the Asiatic Pacific campaign medal are for New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon and Southern Philippines.

What are the standard medals a Trooper might have been awarded?

 

CAMPAIGN MEDALS ARE...

 

(1)   Asiatic Pacific with one star for each of these campaigns-New Guinea, Luzon, Southern Philippines; see AR 672-50-1

(2)   Distinguished (Presidential) Unit Citation, AR 220-315

(3)   American Campaign Medal see AR-672-19-1

(4)   W.W.II Victory Medal see AR 672-15-1

(5)   Army Occupation Medal see AR 672-15-1

(6)   National Defense Service Medal AR 600-70

(7)   CIB see AR 600-70

 

FOREIGN DECORATIONS...

(1)   Philippine Liberation Medal AR-672-15-1

(2)   Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (DAGO) 47

Answer furnished by Tony Sierra

What do the other devices on his medals and badges mean? 

  Appurtenances

(1)   A bronze  replica of an Indian arrowhead, 1/4-inch tall is awarded to be worn on the Asiatic Pacific Medal only by those who fought on Corregidor between  0835 to 1325. Those 1st Battalion and supporting units that landed on 17 February or after are not authorized to wear the arrowhead device.  For the 503d trooper it denotes participation in either the combat parachute jump, or the amphibious assault landing. A soldier must actually exit the aircraft or watercraft to receive assault credit. Individual assault credit is tied directly to the combat assault credit decision for the unit.  The Arrowhead is worn on both the service and suspension ribbons of the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.
(2)    A five-pointed bronze metal star 3/16-inch in diameter may be worn on the parachutist qualification badge only by those who jumped on Corregidor Feb 16th, 1945. 

Other stars cannot be worn for Nadzab and Noemfoor. 

The Bronze Service Star is worn on Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon for the  for participation in Leyte, Luzon, New Guinea and Southern Philippines.

A silver Service Star is worn in lieu of five bronze.

(3)    The Presidential Unit Citation may be worn only by those members who fought with the 503rd on Corregidor or are members of an active duty 503rd Unit.  They may wear the PUC only while assigned to a 503rd unit.
(4)   The Philippine Presidential Unit Citation may be worn by members who served in the Philippines any time up to the end of hostilities in August 1945.
(5)    Only those whose branch was Infantry and are otherwise qualified (see AR 600-70) are awarded the CIB.  CIB Recipients may, on application, be awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
(6) "V" (Valor) Device
There are several decorations awarded by the US Army which are earned for achievement and service, or, in battle, for valor and heroism. To distinguish the award of the decorations for valor a bronze "V" for Valor device is attached. No more than one "V" may be worn on a ribbon.
(7) Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
The bronze oak leaf cluster represents second and subsequent entitlements of awards.
 
 
 

Answer furnished by Tony Sierra

Only one combat star? He jumped more than once! Why? 

There are NO circumstances where a WWII 503d member could earn more than one bronze service on his parachute badge.

 

Letter: John,

I know you are right about the jump stars on the parachute wings.  I still believe the original intent was to treat them as I have done (show stars for Nadzab and Corregidor and not for Noemfoor which the Second Battalion missed).  I think linking the parachute wing stars with the assault regulation ended up with the unintended result of making it so no one could have more than one star.  Furthermore I believe the requirement that there be an active defense on the ground for either a jump or an amphibious landing to get a bronze arrowhead was something added by chairborne staff people to cover their rears and make it so it would be impossible to qualify.

Don Abbott
 

 
 

 

 

         

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