Below you will find two pages of ribbons worn on US military uniforms for medals and  awards up through the Korean War.  Check the links below for ribbons awarded after the Korean War.  Understand there are ribbons and there are medals.  Every medal also has a corresponding ribbon (example - Silver Star), some ribbons on a uniform are ribbons only, with no corresponding medal (example - Presidential Unit Citation). A military decoration (a medal) is awarded to an individual for a specific achievement.  These medals are always a distinctive shape.  A service medal is awarded to all participants in a specific campaign in a specific part of the world.  Service medals are always circular.    Every participant in World War II who served on active duty at any time between 7 Dec 1941 to 31 Dec 1946 was awarded  the World War II Victory Medal.  Every member of the military who served in the Asiatic Pacific area  at any time from 7 Dec 1941 to 2 Mar 1946 was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. It is usually possible for you to identify ribbons on a uniform which may have been in a closet for 50 years or more.  Go to the last link below and use that commercial site to identify the ribbons. This is an excellent site with medals and ribbons for every military branch. I use the site frequently but have no connection with it in any manner.

You can also go to one of the links to see the order the ribbons should appear on the uniform, starting at the top and working down from left to right.  Many veterans of World War II were not given their medals and ribbons until being discharged and many times they have them out of sequence on their uniforms.  Many veterans never received the medals they should have.  You can correct this today by applying for those medals.  Details are below. Standard medals for a returning North China Marine would be: Purple Heart (maybe-see link below)Good Conduct Medal (3 years good conduct needed), perhaps with bar for second award American Defense Service Medal w/base clasp Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal. Those Marines stationed in China anywhere between 7 Jul 1937 and 7 Sep 1939 would also qualify for the China Service Medal. All POWs are now entitled to the POW Medal (and ribbon) which did not exist until much later.  Ordering information is below. The last link below has both ribbons and medals. See this link for excellent views of all medals and ribbons as far back as 1860.

To obtain replacement medals - do a Google search for "Standard Form 180" This will get you any number of sites where you can download the form (Form 180) which must be filled out and sent in. Allow six months or more for a reply. Simply follow directions with the form. An individual can do this for their own medals, or a relative can request medals. I used to have a link here but the sites kept changing. Just do the Google search for a current site.

To apply for a Purple Heart - do a Google search for "how to apply for a Purple Heart" This will get you a Form 180 and directions for a Purple Heart request. You will need two buddy letters to go with the request, letters from witnesses. The process may take a while. It took us five years of submitting papers and making phone calls. Even with buddy letters you may not be successful. Some of the people you deal with in this process seem to be petty bureaucrats.

Correct Manner of Wear of USMC Ribbons-loads slowly

Medals and Ribbons - extensive site with information on medals, ribbons, devices

Medals and Ribbons- best source for information. The site can be difficult to work your way through. It might be easier to call them and ask for their catalog. 1-800-308-0849

The above is a commercial site but has all the medals and ribbons for all branches. It is the best source of medals and ribbons, both for research and for purchase. Try to stay away from purchase of the Commemorative Medals. They are only a marketing tool to get your money and have no real meaning. They demean the actual medals and ribbons earned by the individual.


You can also do a Google search by simply entering the name of the medal or device.

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