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12 August 2010 @ 12:26 am
Ribbons and badges and facts, oh my!  
On and off I had being attempting to decipher the ribbons on Major Davis of SG-1 fame's dress blues. I'd found most of them, but couldn't suss out the last few, so I asked little_details to help out and managed to figure out the rest. In the comments, someone mentioned wanting to do this for the rest of the main characters and I thought 'what the hell?' and did so. Behind the cut are the ribbons on the uniforms of Sam, Jack, John, Cam and Davis. Because, yes, I am that geeky.

ETA: Over at the little_details post, someone linked me this site which is chock full of detaily goodness. She has done the medals for Jack, Sam, Hammond and Jacob. You can see them here. Her Jack and Sam stuff agrees with mine in terms of the ribbons, but not the devices (clusters/stars), in some cases. Which is fine, because I had trouble figuring them out anyway. :-D


Insignia Badges: These are the silver pins worn above the stripes, which indicate the role, occupation, skill set or division of the Air Force the person works in. A plain one indicates a normal rank, one with a star on the top indicates a senior rank and one with a star on the top with a laurel around it indicates a master rank.

Stripes/Ribbons/Medals: Each medal awarded has two parts - the ribbon and the metal medallion. Rather than wear the heavy medallions of all your medals, you wear a stripe replica of the ribbon part. Stripes are worn three across rows, in the order of precedence (basically how big an honour it is to receive them), from top to bottom, left to right. So your most awesome stripe is in the top row, to the left and then it goes down from there.

Oak Leaves: When you are given an award more than once, rather than add another identical stripe, you are given a bronze oak leaf cluster pin to put on the stripe to show you've gotten the same medal again. Each time you are awarded the medal, you get another oak leaf. So, if a person has 3 oak leaves on their stripes, they have been given that medal four times. If a person receives the medal more than five times (a stripe+ four clusters), a silver cluster is given and replaces the four bronze ones. This continues for each subsequent awarding of five bronze oak leaves.

More Info: Here is an excellent resource to find out what the individual ribbons mean.

(click on the images for them to get bigger)

* = indicates one oak leaf cluster

Gen. Jack O'Neil (circa S10 'Avalon')

USAF Master Parachutist Badge
USAF Master Space and Missiles Operation Badge (Old version)
Defense Distinguished Service MedalDistinguished Service MedalDefense Superior Service Medal
Airman's MedalDefense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal (***)
Air Medal (**)Aerial Achievement MedalJoint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal (**)Air Force Achievement Medal (**)Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (****)
Air Force Organizational Excellence AwardCombat Readiness Medal (*)National Defense Service Medal (*)
Vietnam Service MedalSouthwest Asia Service MedalAir Force Overseas Ribbon Long Tour
Air Force Longevity Medal (***)Republic of Vietnam Campaign MedalKuwait Liberation Medal - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

What it means: Um, basically O'Neill is awesome. He's got a lot of medals for defending the nation and I can't tell whether one of the clusters on his Outstanding Unit is silver or not (which would mean he's won it nine times), but either way he's seen a lot action. You can also see he's fought all over the world. Both he and Carter's insignia badges for space and missile are the old versions, which means they were given before 2004. Interestingly, he doesn't have the Air Force Training medal, which is given to everyone upon completion of training. Which means he was trained before Aug. 14, 1974.

Lt. Col. Samantha Carter (circa S10 'Avalon')

USAF Senior Space and Missiles Operation Badge (Old version)
Airman's Medal Meritorious Service MedalAir Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement MedalAir Force Organizational Excellence AwardNational Defense Service Medal (*)
Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon (*) Small Arms Expert Marksmanship RibbonAir Force Training Ribbon

What it means: Sam is the least decorated of the characters, including Major Davis. It makes sense, since she worked mostly in the science divisions and probably didn't see as much action before joining the Stargate Programme. She also hasn't completed an overseas tour.

Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell

Command Pilot Badge
Parachutist Badge
Distinguished Flying CrossPurple Heart Meritorious Service Medal (***)
Air Medal(***)Aerial Achievement MedalAir Force Commendation Medal (*)
Air Force Achievement Medal Air Force Outstanding Unit AwardNational Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary MedaGlobal War on Terrorism ExpeditionaryAir Force Overseas Ribbon - Short Tour
Air Force Expeditionary Service MedalAir Force Longevity Medal (***)Air Force Training Ribbon

What it means: Cam got a helluva lot of citations for his whole 'saving SG-1's asses in Antarctica' thing. Interestingly, the first image we see of him is in his dress blues, with all his medals showing. I wonder if that was a subconscious gesture on the writers' part to say 'hey, this guy isn't Jack, but he's awesome'?

Lt. Col. John Sheppard (circa. S3 'Sunday')
(apologies for the crappy cap quality. Due to this, it was hard to tell how many clusters he was wearing, so I've guessed a little.)

Command Pilot Badge
Distinguished Flying Cross (*)Meritorious Service Medal (*)
Air Medal (*) Air Force Commendation Medal(*) Aerial Achievement Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal Air Force Outstanding Unit AwardAir Force Recognition Medal
National Defense Service Medal Afghanistan Campaign Medal Global War On Terrorism Service Medal
Air Force Overseas Ribbon- Long Tour Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon (*) Air Force Training Ribbon

What it means: Basically, John is really talented pilot, which is a surprise to no one. His medals are sort of a mix of O'Neill and Mitchell, which makes sense since his character plays the same role in the series as they do.

Major Paul Davis (circa S6 'Disclosure')

Intelligence Badge
Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal (*) Air Force Commendation Medal (*) Air Force Achievement Medal
Joint Merit Unit Award w/ Gold Frame AF Gallant Unit Citation National Defence Service Medal
Armed Forced Service Medal Air Force Overseas Short Tour Air Force Longevity Medal(*)
Small Arms Expert Marksman Air Force Training Ribbon United Nations Medal

What it means: Davis is mostly awarded for non-combat roles, which isn't surprising due to his liaison role. Though he has seen at least some action and is considered an expert marksman with small arms.

So, that's that. Hope this has been educational, or at least interesting for you. Please feel free to correct any mistakes on my part. If you want to link to this please do so. If you know of a place I could post it that might be of use, please let me know.
Current Mood: geekygeeky
Current Music: Ultraviolet - The Stiff Dylans
Davealphawox on August 12th, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
Nice job :)

I wonder... didn't Carter say early in Season 1 that she spent time in the air over enemy territory? I might have to pull out Children of the Gods and watch (if I can find my S1 DVDs!)

That is odd that the technical advisors would let Mitchell's Silver Star slip down his ribbon panel like that. They usually catch that stuff!
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on August 13th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
Another person commented below about the Carter thing. She wondered if the writers retconned it later. Apparently there were no female pilots during the Gulf War. Either that, or she wasn't there long enough to qualify as a tour. You have to be overseas 300 days in 18 months for a short tour.

It's possible that it isn't a silver star. It could be a Global War on Terrorism Badge, though I can't see the yellow in it.

Silver StarGlobal War on Terrorism (Expeditionary)

Davealphawox on August 13th, 2010 03:27 am (UTC)
I think it's the Global War one. The thin white stripe surrounded by the dark blue looks more pronounced than the one at the edge of the Silver Star.

Yeah, Carter probably didn't pull that long of a tour considering her primary job.

If Sam and Jack are pilots, where are their wings? I don't remember if they were on the right breast. Mitchell had wings, and Jack did say he flew F-16's.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on August 13th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
The Command Pilot badges count as wings for Cameron and Sheppard. It's possible that the Space and Missile Badges count as wings, but I think O'Neill should have Pilot wings, as he would not have gone directly into the space programme, where Carter might have.

There is etiquette in other branches of the military on how many badges you can wear at at a time and some badges are not mandatory. I couldn't find the rules for the Air Force uniforms, but it could be that they can only wear their most recent badges, or that they've chosen not to wear them.
utah_yodautah_yoda on August 13th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
that is so cool. I'm going to have to remember this so when/if I get around to writing any SG-1 fic, I'll have it to look at. I'm sure a lot of sites would love this; as soon as my brain coughs up some names, I'll pass them along.

Carter said she spent time flying in Iraq, but I read somewhere that there were no female combat pilots during the Gulf War, so maybe the powers that be decided to ignore that comment. This seems to support that.
The Writer They Call Tay: SG: SG-1 3.0awanderingbard on August 13th, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
It looks like you have to spend at least 300 days during an 18 month period to qualify a 'short tour', so maybe Carter didn't spend enough time overseas to earn it. Or, as you say maybe they've retconned it.
utah_yodautah_yoda on August 20th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Huh. I'd love a few minutes for a q&a with a military adviser to the show, wouldn't you? I wonder how much attention the writers paid.

Does SG-1_debrief know about this post? It seems like that's on of the faster ways to get things out to the fandom, and I'm sure a lot of people would be interested.
not, alas, hilary tamar: SG1--Paul Davishilarytamar on September 20th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
You have no idea how happy it makes me to have found this. I spent several hours earlier today going through screencaps of "Disclosure", but I'd only managed to get a couple of ribbons out of them. This is hugely satisfying to read – thank you for all this work.