In the next nine editions of our 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps, we will cover six streamers per week to outline all 54 streamers of the United States Marine Corps. Before outlining each, it is important to note that some of the streamers are for the Navy or Army; however they can be awarded to a Marine Corps unit if they operated as part of the Army or Navy unit receiving the streamer.
Presidential Unit Citation (Navy)
The Presidential Unit Citation is the highest honor a unit can receive and is awarded to units that “display such gallantry, determination, and espirit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign”. Originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation, the Presidential Unit Citation has been awarded to units for extraordinary heroism dating back to December 7th 1941, which marks the start of the United States’ involvement in WWII.
Presidential Unit Citation (Army)
Much like the Navy’s version of the award, the Army’s Presidential Unit Citation is the highest honor a unit can receive. The criteria for award is exactly the same in that it is awarded to units that “display such gallantry, determination, and espirit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign”. The Army has also been awarding the streamer dating back to the dawn of the US involvement in WWII, beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
The Joint Meritorious Unit Award is the only streamer awarded by the Department of Defense. Established in 1981 by the Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award is given to “joint units or activities where the joint activity must either report through Unified, Combined, or Specified Command channels or pursue a joint mission under the cognizance of the Secretary of Defense; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the commander of a Unified, Specified or Combined Command that is also a joint command; or the Secretary of a military department that has been designated the Executive Agent for the Secretary of Defense”. The award has been granted retroactively dating back to 1979 and is considered to be a high honor, representing the equivalent of the Defense Superior Service Medal.
Navy Unit Commendation
The Navy Unit Commendation, established by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in 1944, is the unit equivalent of the Silver Star Medal for individuals. The streamer is awarded by the Navy Secretary to “any ship; aircraft wing, group, squadron, detachment or crew; or other unit of the United States Navy or Marine Corps which has since 6 December 1941 distinguished itself in action against the enemy with outstanding heroism but not sufficient to justify award of the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation”. Furthermore, the streamer can be awarded for combat service that went above and beyond other units performing a similar duty.
Valorous Unit Award (Army)
The Valorous Unit Award is an Army streamer that can be presented to a Marine Corps unit if they served alongside an Army unit and demonstrated equal courage in battle. Representing the second highest award a unit can receive, the Valorous Unit Award is equivalent to the individual achievement, the Silver Star. The award is presented to a unit for “extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent part for actions occurring on or after 3 August 1963”. Despite the high honor, the streamer is awarded for lesser degrees of “gallantry, determination, and espirit de corps” than the recipients of the Presidential Unit Citation.
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy/Marine Corps)
A mid-level award issued in the name of the Secretary of the Navy, the Meritorious Unit Commendation is given to “any military command which displays exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, heroic deeds, or valorous actions”. Units in the Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard are eligible to receive the award when operating with the United States Navy.
Stay tuned for our next installation, which covers the Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Revolutionary War, Quasi-War with France, Barbary Wars, War of 1812 and African Slave Trade streamers. We will be posting a set of six streamers each week and you won’t want to miss it!
Tyler has over ten years of experience in the military and tactical industry. The son of company founder Steve Berg, Tyler grew up assisting with the business and absorbing everything about the industry. Having recently graduated from college with a degree in Business and Communications, Tyler has joined our team full time. Follow Tyler as he shares fresh perspectives on everything from military history to cutting edge tactical gear.