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Cadet Ribbons and Awards      Senior Member Ribbons and Awards      Historic Ribbons and Awards

A Historial View of Civil Air Patrol Ribbons

Civil Air Patrol has a colorful history when it comes to ribbons and awards!
Ribbon designs from the 1940s and 1950s where overseen by a military Heraldry Institute, which reviewed designs to make sure CAP ribbons did not look like existing military ribbons (both foreign and domestic).
When CAP redesigned the Cadet and Senior Member programs in 1964, the number of new ribbons required was more than the Heraldry Institute could support, so the job went to CAP's Chief Textbook Illustrator at National Headquarters.
The new ribbons contained geometric shapes and images of aircraft, making them very unique but also causing members to refer to them affectionately as "Captain Crunch Ribbons", "Cartoon Ribbons", "Cracker Jack Prizes", etc. These ribbons received design updates in the 1980s which removed imagery and gave the ribbons a more "military" appearance.
By 1970, the number of CAP ribbons was considered to be excessive and CAP experienced a "great ribbon purge" where almost all activity ribbons, and even some achievement ribbons, were eliminated.
This page contains images and descriptions for all (known) ribbons. To see a historical snapshot of CAP ribbons, select a year from the drop-down list and the rack builder will show you the ribbons available from that year.







Military Awards to Civil Air Patrol
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
Air Medal1942 Awarded to members of the armed forces for heroic or meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight. During WWII, a total of 824 CAP members received the Air Medal with two CAP members (Edmond Edwards and Hugh Sharp, Jr.) being awarded the Air Medal twice. Sixteen Air Medals were awarded posthumously to CAP members.
AF Organizational Excellence Award2016 In an unprecedented act of recognition, the Secretary of the Air Force awarded the United States Air Force Organizational Excellence Award to CAP for the period of 01 OCT 2012 to 31 AUG 2016
 
Civil Air Patrol Decorations
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
Silver Medal of Valor1960 Awarded for distinguished and conspicuous heroic action, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of normal duty.
Bronze Medal of Valor1957 Awarded for distinguished and conspicuous heroic action where danger to self is probable and known. Was simply known as The Medal of Valor until creation of the Silver Medal of Valor in 1960.
Distinguished Service Medal19541982Awarded for conspicuous performance of outstanding service in a duty of great responsibility where the position held and results obtained reflect upon the accomplishments and prestige of CAP on a national scale.
Distinguished Service Medal1982 
Exceptional Service Award19541982Awarded for exceptionally outstanding service to CAP in a duty of great responsibility while serving in any capacity with CAP. However, the duty should carry the ultimate responsibility for the successful operation of a region, wing, or major project within the region or wing.
Exceptional Service Award1982 
Meritorious Service Award19541982Awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service rendered specifically on behalf of CAP.
Meritorious Service Award1982 
Commander’s Commendation Award1980 Awarded for outstanding duty performance.
CAP Achievement Award2008 Awarded for outstanding service to the unit, group or wing.
Lifesaving Award (with silver star)1976 Awarded to members who save a human life, but do not meet the criteria for the Bronze or Silver Medal of Valor. Members who are credited with a save as a result of participation in a blood or organ transport mission are awarded the basic ribbon. A silver star is attached to the ribbon in recognition of lifesaving actions other than blood or organ transport. Initially only to senior members but was awarded to cadets beginning in 1977.
Lifesaving Award1976 
National Commander's Unit Citation2006 The National Commander's Unit Citation Award is awarded only at the discretion of the National Commander to units providing services or achievements above and beyond those normally recognized by a Unit Citation Award.
Unit Citation Award1960 Awarded to CAP units for exceptionally meritorious service or exceptionally outstanding achievement which clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units. Before 1980, members wore all Unit Citation awards that the unit received before they were members. After 1980, members only wear ribbons for the units that they were a member of at the time the citation was awarded and, once awarded, members may continue to wear the ribbon even if they transfer out of the unit at a later date.
 
Professional Development Awards
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
National Commander’s Citation Award19641982Highest award in the CAP Senior Member Training Program prior to January 1978. When ribbon designs were simplified in 1982, there were so few recipients of this award that a new ribbon was not manufactured. Instead, the Gill Robb Wilson award ribbon was inverted to indicate the National Commander's Citation.
National Commander’s Citation Award1982 
Gill Robb Wilson Award19641982Successfully complete Level V training requirements of the Senior Member Professional Development Program
Gill Robb Wilson Award1982 
Paul E. Garber Award1979 Successfully complete Level IV training requirements of the Senior Member Professional Development Program
Aerospace Award (Later the Grover Leoning Award)19641982Successfully complete Level III training requirements of the Senior Member Professional Development Program
Aerospace Award (Later the Grover Leoning Award)1982 
Senior Member Certificate of Proficiency19671971Senior Members who received the Senior Member Certificate of Proficiency were (briefly) authorized to wear the Certificate of Proficiency ribbon that had formerly been awarded to cadets.
Leadership Award19641982Successfully complete technician rating in a training specialty. Bronze star attachment indicates senior rating and silver start attachment indicates master rating
Leadership Award1982 
Membership Award19641982Successfully complete Level I CAP Orientation Course.
Membership Award1982 
 
Senior Aerospace Education Awards
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
A. Scott Crossfield Award1998 Awarded by National Headquarters to members who have earned the master level rating in the aerospace education specialty track and served as aerospace education officer.
Brigadier General Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager Award (AEPSM)1982 Awarded for successful completion of the Aerospace Education Program for Senior Members (AEPSM).
 
Cadet Program Awards/Achievements (1942-1964)
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
Blue Merit Ribbon19491957Initially awarded to "Cadets who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Cadet Program or by extraordinary acts of heroism under unusually hazardous conditions". Later awarded for 3 years of cadet service
White Merit Ribbon19491957Initially awarded to cadets who attained a 90% score in the Secondary Training program, later awarded for 2 years of cadet service
Red Merit Ribbon19491957Initially awarded to cadets who attained a 90% score in the Basic Training program, later awarded for 1 year of cadet service
Cadet Certificate of Proficiency19561964The Certificate of Proficiency (COP) was the highest milestone award of the cadet program prior to 1964. Bronze clasp attachments were added to the COP ribbon for continued participation and completion of achievements 7, 8, and 9 of the cadet program. Unsure what exactly cadets were given from 1950-53 to recognize the COP. From 1954-56 cadets received a certificate signed by the Air Force Chief of Staff and the CAP National Commander but the COP ribbon was not introduced until 1956.
Cadet Certificate of Proficiency (Ach 7)19571964
Cadet Certificate of Proficiency (Ach 8)19571964
Cadet Certificate of Proficiency (Ach 9)19571964
Cadet Certificate of Proficiency (earned prior to 1964)1964 
Blue Cadet Training Ribbon (Ach 6)19571964Awarded for completion of achievement 6 of the pre-1964 cadet program
Blue Cadet Training Ribbon (Ach 5)19571964Awarded for completion of achievement 5 of the pre-1964 cadet program
White Cadet Training Ribbon (Ach 4)19571964Awarded for completion of achievement 4 of the pre-1964 cadet program
White Cadet Training Ribbon (Ach 3)19571964Awarded for completion of achievement 3 of the pre-1964 cadet program
Red Cadet Training Ribbon (Ach 2)19571964Awarded for completion of achievement 2 of the pre-1964 cadet program
Red Cadet Training Ribbon (Ach 1)19571964Awarded for completion of achievement 1 of the pre-1964 cadet program
 
Cadet Program Awards/Achievements (1964-Present)
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
Col. Frank Borman Falcon Award19641979Awarded to members who achieved the highest possible accomplishments in the CAP Cadet Program (Spaatz Award) and who took subsequent steps to become dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders (discontinued 30 JUN 1979). The original falcon head ribbon was actually made of metal-enamel. A new cloth ribbon design (two-star) was adopted in 1979 and an alternate design (one-star) appeared circa 1998.
Col. Frank Borman Falcon Award (earned prior to 1979)1979 
Col. Frank Borman Falcon Award (Alternate Version)1998 
Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award19641985Awarded for completion of all phases of the CAP cadet program and passing the General Carl A. Spaatz Award examination and the cadet is promoted to grade of C/Col. This is the current pinnacle of the cadet program. A silver star can be attached to the ribbon by senior members who attended Cadet Officers' School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama as a cadet.
Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award1985 
Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award (COS Star)1985 
Gen. Ira C. Eaker Award1998 Awarded for completion of the specific requirements in Phase IV of the cadet program and the cadet is promoted to grade of C/LtCol. A silver star can be attached to the ribbon by senior members who attended Cadet Officers' School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama as a cadet.
Gen. Ira C. Eaker Award (COS Star)1998 
Amelia Earhart Award19641985Awarded for completion of the specific requirements in Phase III of the cadet program. At this point, the cadet is promoted to grade of C/Capt. A silver star can be attached to the ribbon by senior members who attended Cadet Officers' School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama as a cadet. From 1991 until the adoption of the General Ira C. Eaker Award, a silver clasp was used to recognize completion of Phase IV of the cadet program.
Amelia Earhart Award1985 
Amelia Earhart Award (COS Star)1985 
Amelia Earhart Award (Phase IV Clasp)19912002
Amelia Earhart Award (Phase IV Clasp & COS Star)19912002
Billy Mitchell Award19641985Awarded for completion of the specific requirements in Phases I and II of the CAP cadet program and passing a comprehensive examination. At this point, the cadet is promoted to grade of C/2dLt (prior to 1998, cadets were promoted to the grade of Flight Officer and prior to 1984, cadets were promoted to the grade of Warrant Officer). Cadets who have attended Cadet Officers' School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama may wear a silver star attachment to this ribbon. From Jan 1971 to Sep 1971 all achievement ribbons were to be removed once Mitchell Award had been earned.
Billy Mitchell Award1985 
Billy Mitchell Award (COS Star)1985 
Neil Armstrong Achievement1998 Awarded for completion of the Neil Armstrong Achievement
Dr. Robert H. Goddard Achievement19641971Awarded for completion of the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Achievement. A silver star attachment may be added by cadets who have earned both the Billy Mitchell Award and the CAP Model Rocketry Badge. The Goddard ribbon was eliminated in the 1971 ribbon purge, but was reinstated in June 1972
Dr. Robert H. Goddard Achievement19721985
Dr. Robert H. Goddard Achievement (Rocketry Star)19801985
Dr. Robert H. Goddard Achievement1985 
Dr. Robert H. Goddard Achievement (Rocketry Star)1985 
Gen. Jimmy Doolittle Achievement19641985Awarded for completion of the Gen. Jimmy Doolittle Achievement
Gen. Jimmy Doolittle Achievement1985 
Charles Lindberg Achievement19641985Awarded for completion of the Charles Lindberg Achievement
Charles Lindberg Achievement1985 
Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement19641985Awarded for completion of the Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement
Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement1985 
Wright Brothers Achievement19641985Awarded for completion of the Wright Brothers Achievement
Wright Brothers Achievement (Wright Brothers Award after 2003)1985 
Mary Feik Achievement2003 Awarded for completion of the Mary Feik Achievement
Gen. Hap Arnold Achievement19641985Awarded for completion of the Gen. Hap Arnold Achievement
Gen. Hap Arnold Achievement1985 
Gen. J.F. Curry Achievement19641985Awarded for completion of the Gen. J.F. Curry Achievement
Gen. J.F. Curry Achievement1985 
 
Service Awards
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
Special Award, Commander (NEC)19661971Awarded by the National Executive Committee (NEC) for service as National Commander or National Vice Commander
Special Award, Commander (Region)19661971For service as CAP Region Commander
Special Award, Commander (Wing)19661971For service as CAP Wing Commander
Special Award, Commander (Group)19661971For service as CAP Group Commander
Special Award, Commander (Squadron)19661971For service as CAP Squadron Commander
Command Service Ribbon (National)1998 For service as CAP National Commander
Command Service Ribbon (Region)1998 For service as CAP Region Commander
Command Service Ribbon (Wing)1998 For service as CAP Wing Commander
Command Service Ribbon (Group)1998 For service as CAP Group Commander
Command Service Ribbon (Squadron)1998 For service as CAP Squadron Commander
AFA Squadron Cadet of the Year1998 An annual award established by the Air Force Association (AFA) to recognize the outstanding CAP cadet in each squadron.
AFSA Squadron NCO of the Year1998 An annual award established by the Air Force Sergeants Association to recognize the outstanding CAP cadet NCO in each squadron.
VFW Cadet Officer Award1998 An annual award established by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to recognize the outstanding CAP cadet officer in each squadron.
VFW Cadet NCO Award1998 An annual award established by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to recognize the outstanding CAP cadet NCO in each squadron.
Blue Service Award194419491,000 hours + 2 years
Red Service Award19441949500 hours + 18 months
Green Service Award19441949250 hours + 1 year
Silver Service Ribbon (25 Years of Service)1967197125 years of CAP service
Blue Service Award (Senior Member)194919712,000 hours + 6 years
White Service Award (Senior Member)194919711,000 hours + 4 years
Red Service Award (Senior Member)19491982Awarded for two years of CAP service, with attachments added to indicate five-year increments. Originally, in addition to two years of service, the Red Service Award also required at least 500 hours of active participation. The Red Service Award was not awarded to cadets until 1971. When the propeller was removed from the ribbon in 1982, cadets continued to use the propeller version until 1985 (to allow NHQ to exhaust old-style ribbon supplies from inventory).
Red Service Award (Cadet)19711985
Red Service Award (Senior Member)19821985
Red Service Award1985 
 
Activity and Participation Awards
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
Organizer Ribbon19611971Awarded to the member instrumental in organizing a particular unit of which he is a member
Cadre Ribbon19611971Awarded to the members of the CAP who rendered the most assistance toward the formation of a new unit
FAA Orientation Course19611971FAA Orientation Course participation
Jet Age (or Aerospace Age) Orientation Course19611971Jet Age (or Aerospace Age) Orientation Course participation
Jet Orientation Course19611971Jet Orientation Course participation
Space Age Orientation Course19611971Space Age Orientation Course participation
NCFE (National Cadet Flying Encampment)19651971NCFE (National Cadet Flying Encampment) participants were awarded the basic ribbon. Cadets completing their glider pilot certificate at the encampment wore a silver star attachment and those completing their private pilot certificate wore two silver star attachments.
NCFE – Glider Pilot19651971
NCFE – Private Pilot19651971
RCFE (Regional Cadet Flying Encampment)19661971RCFE (Regional Cadet Flying Encampment) participants were awarded the basic ribbon. Cadets completing their glider pilot certificate at the encampment wore a silver star attachment and those completing their private pilot certificate wore two silver star attachments.
RCFE – Glider Pilot19661971
RCFE – Private Pilot19661971
ECI Course Completion (complete ECI course 7c)19671971ECI Course Completion (complete ECI course 7c)
ECI Training Ribbon19671971ECI Training (other courses)
Cadet Leadership School Ribbon19681970Cadet Leadership School Ribbon participation. This very short-lived ribbon was originally worn between the Goddard Achievement and the General Billy Mitchell Award.
Communications Service19681971Awarded for completion of an array of communications training activities and service for 3+ years as a communications officer. A bronze star attachment was authorized for also holding a valid commercial or amateur radio license.
National Search & Rescue Training19701971National Search & Rescue Training Academy participation
Aircrew SAR Find (Senior Members Only)19561971Awarded to any CAP member of the wing making a find (distress or non-distress) on a search and rescue mission. A propeller attachment indicates the member was part of an aircrew making the find. Initially awarded only to senior members, cadets became eligible beginning in 1971.
SAR Find (Senior Members Only)19561971
Aircrew SAR Find19711982
SAR Find19711982
Aircrew SAR Find1982 
SAR Find1982 
Air Search and Rescue Aircrew (Senior Members Only)19561960Awarded for completing 10 search and rescue sorties in an actual search and rescue mission. A bronze clasp is awarded for each additional 10 sorties. A propeller attachment indicates the member was part of an aircrew making the find. Initially awarded only to senior members, cadets became eligible beginning in 1960.
Air Search and Rescue (Senior Members Only)19561960
Air Search and Rescue Aircrew1960 
Air Search and Rescue1960 
Counterdrug Ribbon1998 Awarded to senior members for participation in 10 counterdrug sorties. A bronze clasp is awarded for each additional 10 sorties.
Civil Defense Ribbon (Vietnam Era? all-cloth)19701979Two different versions of the Civil Defense ribbon are known to have been used by CAP, however origin of the horizontal-striped version is uncertain.
Civil Defense Ribbon w/metallic CD attachment19701979
Disaster Relief Ribbon1980 Awarded for participation in five actual/evaluated disaster relief missions and completion of additional training requirements. The Disaster Relief Ribbon with a silver “V” device awarded for participation in a disaster relief effort for a Presidential declared disaster. Participation in any Presidential declared disaster since 1990 qualifies.
Disaster Relief Ribbon (Presidential Declared)1998 
Homeland Security Ribbon2007 Awarded for participation in ten actual Homeland Security sorties as defined by the tasking organization as being in the interest of the security and/or defense of the nation. Clasps may be added to the ribbon for participation in every ten additional sorties.
Cadet Orientation Pilot1998 Awarded to members who provide 50 cadet orientation flights. A bronze clasp may be added for each additional 50 flights.
Community Service Ribbon1998 Awarded to members who complete 60 hours of community service outside of Civil Air Patrol.
International Air Cadet Exchange19561985Awarded to cadets and senior member escorts participating in the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) outside the continental limits of the United States. Original exchange programs were gender-segregated with female cadets typically traveling to Canada. The same ribbon design was awarded for both exchanges but a different design was adopted for the Girls’ Exchange from 1961-1968. This was the last CAP ribbon to feature the distinctive propeller design until it was simplified in 1985.
Girls’ Exchange19561961
Girls’ Exchange19611968
International Air Cadet Exchange1985 
International Drill Competition19561971Awarded for participation in the International Cadet Drill Competition.
National Drill Competition19561961Awarded for participation in the National Cadet Drill Competition.
National Drill Competition19611971
National Cadet Competition1977 
National Color Guard Competition1998 Awarded for participation in the National Color Guard Competition.
Cadet Advisory Council1964 Awarded to all primary members of each cadet advisory council. Bronze, Silver, and Gold stars have been used to indicate the highest echelon at which the cadet served.
National Special Activities19611971Awarded to cadets and senior members who participate in national cadet special activities which do not have a distinctive ribbon of their own.
National Cadet Special Activities1987 
Encampment Participation19541971Awarded to cadets for satisfactory completion of an encampment and to senior members for service as a member of an encampment staff. Original design was part of the 1971 purge and a new design was reauthorized in 1985.
Encampment Ribbon1985 
Senior Recruiter Ribbon1963 Awarded to senior members who recruit seven new qualified cadets or senior members for CAP. A bronze clasp is awarded for each additional 10 members recruited.
Cadet Recruiter Ribbon1961 Awarded to cadets who recruit two new qualified cadets or senior members for CAP. A bronze clasp is awarded for each additional two members recruited.
 
Civil Air Patrol Wartime Service Awards
Award or Ribbon NameAuthorizedRetiredRibbon ImageNotes
Wartime Service1982 Six pictographic ribbons are authorized for wartime service between February 1942 and July 1945. As these ribbons are no longer manufactured, a simplified design was approved in 1982 as a replacement for all wartime service ribbons. While exceedingly rare, these pictographic ribbons are still authorized.
Anti-Submarine Coastal Patrol1954 
Southern Liaison Patrol1954 
Tow-Target & Tracking1954 
Courier1954 
Forest Patrol1954 
Missing Aircraft1954