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 -
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;
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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.
letter to me dated September 26, 1997 states:
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
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
"...the units listed ...were designated by their theater commander as
having participated in an amphibious or airborne assault landing."
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:-
Unit; 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment
Campaigns; Leyte, Luzon, New Guinea, Southern Philippines
Distinguished Unit Commendation 16 - 28 Feb 45, WDGO 53 1945
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.
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
One and only one
bronze arrowhead is authorized to be worn by
veterans on the Asiatic-Pacific Medal.
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
assault credit to
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.
four bronze service stars are not affected.
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.
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.
are the standard medals a Trooper might have been awarded?
CAMPAIGN MEDALS ARE...
Asiatic Pacific with one star for each of these
campaigns-New Guinea, Luzon, Southern Philippines; see AR 672-50-1
Distinguished (Presidential) Unit Citation, AR 220-315
American Campaign Medal see AR-672-19-1
W.W.II Victory Medal see AR 672-15-1
Army Occupation Medal see AR 672-15-1
National Defense Service Medal AR 600-70
CIB see AR 600-70
Philippine Liberation Medal AR-672-15-1
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (DAGO) 47
furnished by Tony Sierra
What do the
other devices on his medals and badges mean?
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.
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
in Leyte, Luzon, New Guinea and Southern Philippines.
A silver Service Star is worn in
lieu of five bronze.
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
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.
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.
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
The bronze oak leaf cluster represents second and subsequent
entitlements of awards.
furnished by Tony Sierra
Only one combat star? He jumped more than once!
There are NO circumstances where a WWII
503d member could earn more than one bronze service on his parachute
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.