Coast Guard Unit Commendation

Coast Guard Unit Commendation
Awarded by United States Coast Guard
Type Ribbon
Eligibility Non-combatant Military Unit
Awarded for "[V]alorous or extremely meritorious service, not involving combat, but in support of Coast Guard operations."
Status Currently awarded
First awarded 1963
Last awarded On going
Next (higher) Presidential Unit Citation (US)
Equivalent DoD - Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Army - Valorous Unit Award
Navy - Navy Unit Commendation
Air Force - Gallant Unit Citation
Next (lower) Meritorious Unit Commendation

The Coast Guard Unit Commendation is the highest peacetime unit award that may be awarded to military commands of the United States Coast Guard. The decoration was first created in 1963 and is presented to members of any Coast Guard unit that distinguishes itself by valorous or extremely meritorious service, not involving combat, but in support of Coast Guard operations.

It may also be awarded to units and personnel of the other U.S. armed forces, typically when in support of operations where the Coast Guard is the lead service. One example was the award of the commendation with Operational Distinguishing Device to rescue squadrons of the U.S. Air Force and maritime patrol squadrons and helicopter squadrons of the U.S. Navy, when said units assisted the Coast Guard during search and recovery operations following the January 1986 loss of the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger.

Additional awards of the Coast Guard Unit Commendation are denoted by award stars. The Operational Distinguishing Device, a 5/16 inch silver letter "O" centered on the unit of the uniform ribbon, is also authorized for units which are presented the decoration for field operations and conditions.

Prior to 2003, the Coast Guard Unit Commendation was subordinate to the Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award. With the transfer of the Coast Guard to the Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award became obsolete, making the Coast Guard Unit Commendation the senior peacetime award, but junior to the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant, awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation to the Coast Guard Auxiliary on June 23, 2014, for members active from June 24, 2009 to June 23, 2014. "Beyond the day to day, the Auxiliary has been there as part of the Coast Guard's total force in every major disaster," said Coast Guard Commandant ADM Zukunft at the ceremony. "During disasters, the Auxiliary takes action to provide air support, conduct search and rescue, fix aids to navigation, conduct public affairs and augment units at home stations whose responders are deployed." References: ALAUX 011/14; COMDTINST M16790.1G (Auxiliary Manual), Chapter 10; and COMDTINST M1650.25D, Medals and Awards Manual.

See also: Awards and decorations of the United States military


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