How To Find Your Medals and Ribbons
First, let me state that I’m not an expert at this, this post is based on my experience. But hopefully, this guide will help you find your ribbons and medals as well as get them put on your uniform correctly.
Based on their website, they should send you the medals, but they really don’t talk about ribbons and some ribbons do not have a medal.
When requesting medals, type or clearly print the Veteran’s full name, include the Veteran’s branch of service, service number, or Social Security number, and provide the Veteran’s exact or approximate dates of military service. The request must contain the Veteran’s signature or next of kin if the Veteran is deceased. If available, include a copy of the discharge or separation document, WDAGO Form 53-55, or DD Form 214.
I know that your DD-214 Block 13 (at least on the Nov 88 version of the form). Mine lists everything from what I can tell.
National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal (w/2 star), Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (w/1 star) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (w/1 star), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Letter of Appreciation (4th award), Letter of Commendation, Rifle and Pistol badge
But If I recall, I think I had seven ribbons, but I don’t know. I will have to see if I have a photo somewhere.
Military Awards and Decorations
The NPRC also provides information and guidance on how to request military awards and decorations online and by mail for veterans and their next of kin; replace certain military medals, and obtain a Cold War Recognition Certificate.
This is available for the records of a service member who separated before or during 1956. For records for individuals who separated after 1956, these records can be requested through FOIA. The general public may also purchase a copy of the veteran’s OMPF to determine the awards due and obtain the medals from a commercial source. Individuals can request information on military service medals, decorations, and awards online: https://www.archives.gov/
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
For Coast Guard:
Coast Guard Personnel Service Center
4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 900 (PSC-PSD-MA)
Arlington, VA 20598-7200
There are several websites that I know that you can purchase the ribbons from as well (they aren’t cheap that is for sure):
(Don’t buy them from Amazon, they are 3-4x the price on average)
I also recommend that if you are interested in seeing if you rate any additional awards since you got out that you search the Marine Corps ALMARS (All Marine Corps Activities). On a whim, I searched and discovered that I rate a Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) for my time with the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity. I have never had my DD-214 corrected to reflect it, but it isn’t like I’m wearing my ribbons and medals out in town.
Once you have all the ribbons and medals, you can go to the online Ribbon Checker website and put in what ribbons you have what devices you have for each ribbon and it will put them in the correct order and give you an image of what they should look like as well as a text printout.
If you don’t have a copy of your DD-214, I’m posting a guide to that very soon, please stand by.
**FYI** If you plan on trying to purchase a CMOH, you will not be able to do so. If you are a recipient of a CMOH, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (https://www.cmohs.org/) will be able to help you out.