Oak leaf cluster

Oak leaf cluster
United States Oak Leaf Clusters
U.S. Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster 
U.S. Silver Oak Leaf Cluster 
Awarded by United States Military
Type Service Ribbon Accoutrement
Eligibility Subsequent Award
Awarded for "To denote the subsequent award of certain military decorations."
Status Currently awarded
Last awarded Ongoing
Not to be confused with the insignia of a Major or Lieutenant Colonel

An oak leaf cluster is a common device which is placed on U.S. Army and Air Force awards and decorations (and those of some other nations) to denote those who have received more than one bestowal of a particular decoration.[1] The number of oak leaf clusters typically indicates the number of subsequent awards of the decoration. In British and commonwealth forces a medal bar is used for the same purpose.



A bronze oak leaf cluster is worn to denote award of the second and subsequent awards of the same decoration. A silver oak leaf cluster is worn instead of five bronze oak leaf clusters.

Both oak leaf clusters, regardless of medal material, come in two sizes: 0.41 inch (1.03 cm) long for the full size suspension ribbon, and 0.31 inch (0.79 cm) long for the service ribbon bar. The design for each size and material is the same, a twig of four oak leaves with three acorns on the stem

The 0.31 inch (0.79 cm) oak leaf clusters joined together in series of 2, 3, and 4 clusters (sometimes referred to as "single constructed") are authorized for optional purchase and wear of service ribbons and unit award emblems.


While the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps award service stars for subsequent awards, all services wear the oak leaf cluster for subsequent awards of the following Department of Defense and joint service awards:

Oak leaf clusters are not issued for the Legion of Merit awarded in degrees to foreign nationals.

Gold oak leaf cluster

Proposed U.S. Gold Oak Leaf Cluster

The United States military issues only bronze and silver oak leaf clusters. Gold oak leaf clusters were briefly considered as a device for the Air Medal, but this was not adopted by any of the services.

Other nations

Commonwealth of Nations

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 US oak leaves is a bar worn with a campaign medal.


The German oak is the national tree of Germany, thus oak leaves are a prominent symbol on most German military orders.

Kingdom of Prussia

The Pour le Mérite, the highest military order in the Kingdom of Prussia, could 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.

Third Reich

In 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.

Federal Republic of Germany

Iron Crosses rewarded in WWII 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 andornment in the shape of stylized double oak leaves.[2]

Further 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.


See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • oak-leaf cluster — noun (US) A form of additional military decoration • • • Main Entry: ↑oak * * * oak leaf cluster «OHK LEEF», a cluster of bronze or silver oak leaves and acorns given as an honor to a person in the United States armed forces who has already… …   Useful english dictionary

  • oak-leaf cluster — ☆ oak leaf cluster [ōk′lēf΄ ] n. a small, bronze cluster of oak leaves and acorns awarded to the holder of a U.S. Army or Air Force decoration for each new award of that decoration: a silver cluster equals five bronze clusters * * * …   Universalium

  • oak-leaf cluster — ☆ oak leaf cluster [ōk′lēf΄ ] n. a small, bronze cluster of oak leaves and acorns awarded to the holder of a U.S. Army or Air Force decoration for each new award of that decoration: a silver cluster equals five bronze clusters …   English World dictionary

  • oak leaf cluster — oak′ leaf clus′ter n. mil a bronze military decoration in the form of oak leaves, affixed to another decoration to signify a second award of the same medal • Etymology: 1915–20, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • oak-leaf cluster — noun Date: 1918 a bronze or silver cluster of oak leaves and acorns added to various military decorations to signify a second or subsequent award of the basic decoration …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • oak leaf cluster — a U.S. military decoration in the form of a small bronze twig bearing four oak leaves and three acorns, worn on the ribbon of another decoration for valor, wounds, or distinguished service to signify a second award of the same medal. [1915 20,… …   Universalium

  • Oak Leaf Cluster — noun a United States military decoration consisting of bronze or silver oak leaves and acorns awarded to anyone who has won a given medal before • Hypernyms: ↑decoration, ↑laurel wreath, ↑medal, ↑medallion, ↑palm, ↑ribbon …   Useful english dictionary

  • Oak Leaf — may refer to: Military Oak leaf cluster, a U.S. military decoration A bronze oak leaf device is also used to signify a Mention in Despatches or the award of the Queen s Commendation for Valuable Service in Commonwealth militaries An additional… …   Wikipedia

  • Oak — Quercus redirects here. For other uses, see Quercus (disambiguation). This article is about oaks (Quercus). For other uses of Oak , see Oak (disambiguation). Oak Foliage and acorns of Quercus robur …   Wikipedia

  • cluster — clusteringly, adv. clustery, adj. /klus teuhr/, n. 1. a number of things of the same kind, growing or held together; a bunch: a cluster of grapes. 2. a group of things or persons close together: There was a cluster of tourists at the gate. 3. U.S …   Universalium

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