- Oak leaf cluster
United States Oak Leaf Clusters 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 Statistics Last awarded Ongoing
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. 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:
- Defense Distinguished Service Medal
- Defense Superior Service Medal
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- Joint Service Commendation Medal
- Joint Service Achievement Medal
- Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Oak leaf clusters are not issued for the Legion of Merit awarded in degrees to foreign nationals.
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.
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.
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.
- ^ "Oak-leaf cluster - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-webster.com. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oak-leaf+cluster. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
- ^ "Stiftungserlass des BMVg vom 13. August 2008" (in (German)). Bundeswehr.de. http://www.bundeswehr.de/fileserving/PortalFiles/C1256EF40036B05B/W27KACAR767INFODE/Stiftungserlass.pdf?yw_repository=youatweb. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
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